My friend has a pair of NHT 2.9's. I did some research on them and they recommend 4-10 inches from wall, and the bigger brother 3.3's are supposed to go right against the back wall. I found the reviews online at stereophile only a couple of days ago. The 2.9's go to about 35hz I believe, not quite as deep as my Vandersteens, but I think the 3.3 go quite deep. Check out the reviews, I am only recalling from memory. They sound very nice.
3.3's are a great "against the wall" recommendation however, from front to back they are huge. So I don't know how inconspicuous they canm ever be.
Gradient Revolution speakers are designed to be placed near the wall and have received many rave reviews over the years - though they are power hungry (about 93db I think)
The Guru speakers would be perfect:
They were a hit at the Home Entertainment Show in NYC 2007:
I heard them at the show with a friend and we were amazed at the clarity of sound and depth of bass. As you can read in the above, they are designed to be placed against the wall, are not large, and about one-third the price of your budget. But, don't be fooled by the low price, they are incredible speakers, though they may be tough to audition.
gradient revolutions, klipsch cornwalls, allison ones or threes(hard to find)
IME, the older Merlin VSM SE benefits from near wall placement (bass and mid bass flesh out). Merlin designer Bobby P has recommendations for wall treatment so that imaging doesn't suffer (too much) from this arrangement. IMHO, the newer iterations of the speaker do not like near wall placement and should be out in "free space". If your placement needs change later, the "super bam" mod is available from Merlin and the modified SE is IME definitely better out away from the wall (much like the current versions).
The VSM is a smallish floorstander and the older SE should fall comfortably within your budget.
Cain and Cain WWWS (Walla Walla Wall of Sound) ... single driver "horn" speaker designed to be placed flush against the wall. Wide at about 3ft but only about 8" deep. Great speaker for tubes or even solid state (chip amps or the First Watt amps in particular).
North Creek Big Kat (link below). Buying the kit and having Lee Taylor do the boxes would likely have you out for less than 5k, plus an afternoon for assembly. I've not heard the Big Kat, but I have the smaller Eskas, which work quite well a few inches from the wall. John
I own both NHT 2.9s (fronts for H/T) and 3.3's for music both can be placed close to wall. Veiwing front on they don,t look too big but from the side they are quite deep. Bottom line they sound great , are easy to set up with less of the problems that the room itself effects most speakers . Cheers
The 2.9s specs are 26khz to 26 hz not 35 as stated. The 3.3.s are 23 khz to 22 khz. Cheers
thanks for everyones input. Keep the ideas coming though as some of these will be hard to audition.
The new BLue Circle PEnnies are designed to go close to walls.
Disclaimer: haven't heard these yet but am intrigued by the design.
I would look at the new Zu Essence, just reviewed in the latest Stereophile. I have not heard it, but I have heard the recently discontinued Druid and it was a very good speaker.
The Ohm Walsh speakers are supposed to be pretty flexible as to placement and seating position. Lots of commentary here on the 'gon. They also have a very generous trial/return policy.
Tannoy Prestige Series seems to fit your requirement quite nicely. Within your budget, there is Turnbery HE, or if you can stretch it / find used, go Canterbury. Ok to be place close to wall / corner, not as fussy to set up, legendary musicality, with timeless classic looks to boot.