My take on the Dunlavy's is that they were some "potentially" good tools to work with (although I never thought the SM-1's sounded good, AT ALL! (warm and bland, compared to the superior SC-1). I used to sell these speakers on a retail level, and we got the speakers (up to the 5's in our store) sounding very very good in our setup. They were revealing speakers, with great detail, dynamics (for a passive), and great speed, and also soundstaging capabilities. Midrange, and extension was fine also.
What I have noticed, is that they did certain things better than some speakers, and compromised other aspects. They had a much better impulse response time than just about any other passive speaker I've heard! Dynamics, for the most part were very good. However, I did noticed that instuments could sound a bit bigger than they were from other speakers, in the same setup. So, not sure, but the perspective is on the "large" side - if that matters to you.
Another plus with the Dun's, is that, due to the multiple drive, first order array design, you can place these speakers MUCH further apart than other speaker designs, and still get a solid soundstage! I believe this is do to a number of factors - one, the multiple driver arrays reinforce the transient response, and tend to cancel out distortions that you might hear as differences between the drivers - two, the first order crossover has multiple drivers all carying the same frequencies, for even more reinforcement, and perfect phase. As for coherence, no problem as well.
John Dunlavy did believe strongly that all associated, equal rated equipment and cabling sounded/performed the same, and that you could use just about anything to drive his speakers, for same results. I heard his setups and demo rooms, and things DID NOT sound so good! We got INFINITELY better results in our retail stores with his speakers, than he likely ever got!- lol.
Anyway, I have heard more neutral sounding speakers, tonally, throughout the line. But, with the right associated equiopment, you will likely get some great results with the VI's, IMO. At least, it's worth a try, if you have the seeds planted. Otherwise, you'll never know.
I'd be looking for tube preamp (Cary, Cat, Copeland,etc) with solid state amp with them, or SS throughout. (maybe Pass Aleph P or Krell Sig pre, with similar - and with Pass, Coda, Threshold, Levinson, Spectral, M. Fidelity, or similar amps) (on the low side, Audio Research tube pre's, and McCormack, Mcintosh amps)
One other thing, if you blow drivers, how are you going to replace things?!!! I know a little something about how Dunlavy engineered his speaker designs. And he always measured drivers, and adjusted things at the crossovers, to match the other speaker pairs! If you replace a blown driver in the speaker, what are you going to replace them with? They are out of biz. Also, how will things measure up if the driver performs different? These would all be concerns for me, if I'm buying such expensive speakers. But, maybe it wouldn't be so bad, I dunno.
Anyway, I think the speakers are great high end, dynamic type speakers, that do well with Reggae, Rock, heavy dynamic stuff, and yes, movies! (although I'd still use bass mgmnt, and have active subs in the system). For other types of music, other speakers offer easy competition, IMO>