The ones you suggest are very good speakers. I am especially intrigued by the Gallos. But how about Triangle Celius? I listened to them recently and found them great...and they're going to save you some money.
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Contrary to the above, I find B&Ws to be upfront and dynamic, certainly not laid back. They are great with rock material and sound best with warm electronics due to the metal-dome tweeter. On the other hand, I find the Sonus Faber Grand Piano to be laidback and excels in jazz and vocals. B&Ws do rock music and HT better than Sonus Fabers. Both are colored speakers that have a distinctive house sound of their own. I have owned the B&W N805 and SF Grand Piano, the latter for 3 years.
Since you have listened to the Grand Pianos yourself and liked it, it's a wiser choice to go with that speaker rather than taking a chance without listening to the other two speakers.
I sold the original 804N's for years and have to agree with above .If you going to go HT with these the rare Due might pop up for rears but you'll have a great HT timbre matched set with the $1200 Gallo center.Would suggest you look at the Class D amps sold here by Underwoodwally.Great reviews and much cheaper than other Class D.Always thought the 804's gave up imaging and you'd be better off with 805's and fast sub or go to 803's (used for $3K either N or S are great speaker and work well with different amps.Great Soundstage too).Go for Gallo's.SF's are great for piano and concerto music but given what you music described not forward enough.I am thinking of same issues but thinking Usher,Totem,or Dali since I tilt toward tunes and HT is much less an ambition.But if you look at price Gallo's HT is hard to beat.
I have an all-Gallo surround sound system and thoroughly enjoy it. The speakers are very fast, sweet, smooth, and clear. Try to stay within the Reference line, the timbre-matching is very important in a surround sound system. I originally had the Dues for Center and Surrounds, replaced them with Ref. AVs - WOW!
Keep an eye out here (this is where I got of ALL mine), the Gallos can be found for very good prices if you don't mind buying used.
Fronts - $1250
Surrounds - $1495 (smokin' deal!)
Watch for a Ref. AV Center, I got mine off Audiogon for $895 delivered...
With some careful shopping, you could put together a complete Reference surround setup for $3500-4000. You'd have to spend over $20,000 to beat 'em...
Back to the original questions.
SF - colored, and too warm sounding. It's cool if you like SF (no flames plz), but if you are looking for fast, accurate sound, this is not where it's at
B&W - I agree with most above posters. I have heard great sound out of 802N and larger B&Ws, but only with huge krell amps in front. The smaller ones have also sounded thing, bright, fatiguing, and boring to me
Gallo - These have piqued my interest personally. They are fast, detailed, and image and soundstage great. They have a unique percussive effect to the highs which I like. I'm strongly considering purchasing a new pair from a local dealer after auditioning them in home
What will match good with the 3.1s like center and surrounds? Or do I have to stick with the gallo line?"
With multi-speaker set ups it is best that the speakers be as close in sound as possible. So yes, you should stick with the Gallo line.
Why is it that no one asks if they can use different speakers on the left and right channels of their stereos?
Scramble the words a little and we get
thin, bright, fatiguing(don't think this word exist), dynamic = boring
On the other hand, the respective antonyms
fat, warm, smooth, laid back = exciting
Can be a possibility although technically speaking it should be the other way round. Some like it hot while some like it cold.
Buy the Gallo's. They are more affordable, and I think even smoother than the B&Ws. I got mine new for 2100 and change (internet sale). Best deal in audio. Shame that they are discontinued. You won't be able to get them soon, and the 3.5s (their replacements) are going for about 6K. Shame the price has doubled, but I guess Gallo figured out he was selling a bargain.
Never heard the Gallo 3.1... but for me the nod goes to the B&Ws.
Your tastes are the same as mine "What I want is a speaker that is very fast, tight bass, with great imaging". I also listen mostly to Rock (... and metal, industrial... uhm all the usual audiophile stuff too....) and have really like the 703s. For the first year I had them I thought they were a little bass shy but learned they just needed more current to get moving.
For what it is worth the 703s don't sound that much different from the 804s. The 703s are a little more forward and a tad brighter. The 703s are only $1800 used. But if you want to use them for home theater the 804s would be better because they make centers to match.
I know the next to models are out of your budget but It will give a little insight to JM lab vs B&W. I listened to Jm labs Focal 1037 and B&W 803D (and 802D...) back to back. For me (a big fan of high energy rock music) the B&Ws were much better. Rock requires the same tasks as Classical music. The speakers need to be coherent, dynamic, and image well. I thought the B&Ws did all these things better than the 1037s. The 1037s had a little more detail in the upper mids but as a whole the speaker lack integration to my ear. The sound stage is also huge on the almost all B&Ws.
But here is the thing with B&W. You will hear a lot of people they are they are laid back. This is true for the 802Ds and up but the smaller speakers 803s and down have a different sound... one that lends it self to rock.
So all in all the Gallo may be good and B&W will also fit the bill too. I would scratch the grand pianos off the list and add Thiel CS2.4 (used). The Thiels are a little out of your budget but are GREAT speakers! The only fault they have IMO is they are a little bright. But you said you like things a little bright so it might be a match made in heaven.