The Kef Q900 was just awarded a Stereophile recommendation in full range Class C. These are also in your budget.
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I am VERY impressed with what the 1.7 Maggie can do, but, it may be harder than others to properly locate and it does put some demand on the amps that it is coupled. It is a speaker without much of a really deep bottom end, but it does everything else so exceptionally well.
Another candidate I heard at a show and like quite a lot for the money is the Odyssey Lorelei speaker (smallish, thin floorstander). I believe it is a $2,700 speaker.
For a bit more money (I believe it sells for around $3,000), with a more lively sound I like the tall, very thin speaker made by the Italian company Synthesis. This model has a touch leaner sound than the Lorelei and is meant to be used with tube amps.
Again at a show, I heard and liked, for the money, a somewhat big box speaker from Tyler Acoustics.
I have a few different amps, all maintained and in good working order. Among them are a Perreaux PFM1150, one or two VSP Labs TransMOS 150's, and a Heathkit AA-1600.
The Perreaux is a wide-bandwidth design (out to 3Mhz) with rise times under 1 microsecond. It's rated at 100 wpc into 8 ohms, and probably something close to 200 into 4. Damping factor is >500.
The VSP TransMOS amps are very high current and stable even into a short circuit, rated at 150/300 wpc into 8/4 ohms. They are also bridgeable to mono, so if I bridge them I'm getting at least 300 wpc. Damping factor is also high.
The Heathkit is easily 40 lbs, maybe 45. It's rated at 120 wpc into 8 ohms, but is massively overbuilt and probably making around 180. It's also a robust high current design with high damping factor.
I don't have any class A, low powered, or tube amps, not that I'm against them; I just don't have any.
Well, I auditioned 3 speakers on my list today. First was the MartinLogan Motion 40s. That's a nice little speaker, very linear, quick, room-filling dispersion, doesn't take up much room. Then I refreshed my memory on the Sonus Faber Veneres. They reconfirmed on the one hand how beguiling they are, but on the other hand also revealed their limitations on sorting out large scale orchestral music.
Finally I tried the Magneplanar 1.7s, and they seem to be exactly what I was looking for, other than bass down to 30 Hz. But they do everything above 45 Hz so well that i don't care much about the rest, and anyway I can fix that with subs, which I already have. These aced everything from solo voice with one acoustic instrument to combo jazz to large scale orchestra (Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov), and in all caess they scaled up and down according to the ensemble size, and always floated the images in space like a live concert.
Thanks for all your suggestions, especially turning me on to the Odyssey Loreleis. That's a lot of speaker, both for a modest price and demure footprint.
But at this point, the Maggies are what I'm going to put my money on.
I had the 1.7's myself. For the most part, I didn't care for them but the one thing I did like about them was the bass. They don't go as low as a lot of other speakers do, but the bass you do get is very high quality. A good power amp will help as well. Also, make sure they are fully broken in before you make any other changes to your system.
They were used. I just thought the sound was average and they sounded like a very good mid fi speaker. Not exactly what I was looking for."
I thought the same thing. They were good, but not great. But that's just my opinion. A lot of people think they're great. Its just a matter of what you like.
Rebbi: I never had Ohms; I have Mirage OMD-15s, which are also mid-sized omnidirectional floorstanders.
Zd542: Interesting perspective on the Mag 1.7s. I was much more taken by the 1.7s' soundstage, transparency, and sense of "you are there," while obviously missing the bottom octave. You're right, however, that the bass that is there is of very high quality, quick and accurate with all the overtones on time and where they belong. That's certainly better than trying to tame a +10dB hump at 100-150 Hz.
Fortunately I have a pair of small (9" cube) very fast subs that should have no trouble blending with the Maggies. My biggest problem right now is blending the Maggies visually with the room.
I'm still sort of tempted by 2 or 3 of the small footprint towers such as the MartinLogan Motion 40s and Revel Performa F206s.