Ever consider Magnepan 3.6's? I used to run them with a Musician II and they were magical!
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IMO, one issue you have is running your Cary CDP directly to the Spectron amp. You may have an impedance mismatch causing bass roll off in your amp, which will have the effect of making your speakers sound bright because of the lack of bass to balance the sound. Also, the Spectron II is not as refined as some other SS amps, including the Spectron III. The Totem speakers are not forgiving as you have heard.
I read post after post where people tried running CD players directly into their amps and discovered better sound by adding a preamp despite the less-is-more theory in the signal chain.
Bottom line, I don't believe your problem necessarily lies with your speakers, but rather with a mismatch caused by the combination of your electronics and speakers.
If you're determined to buy new speakers, then you should try to find speakers you like and match an amp to them, not the other way around...which you will discover results in a fair amount of "tail chasing".
TVAD - thanks, but I am certain that is not the problem. I actually took the CDP and amp to the dealer to audition the Sonus. I also hooked it up to some Ushers. The sibiliance I hear with the Totems was not there. I have also tried a BAT preamp in line without much change in the sound. Not worth spending the money on a preamp.
Bottom line - I am convinced there is absolutely nothing wrong with my electronics. To the contrary, the Sonus dealer told me that it is the best sounding CD direct setup he has heard.
So - back to the original question - I am still looking for new speakers.. . .
FWIW, Von Schweikert used to demo their speakers
with Spectron Musician II amps.
Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE are an incredible value at current used prices (and in your price range). Some of the best speakers VS ever made. In the black/black color scheme, they really disappear into a room. Even the black/cherry does pretty well in this regard. They are 3" over your height limit.
They are revealing speakers, though. They will not hide bumps and warts.
My post above incorrectly links a reviewer's VS/Spectron system to Von
Schweikert speaker demonstrations. Two separate circumstances. Greg Weaver
did use a Spectron Musician II with VR4 Gen III HSE speakers in his personal
In 2002 or 2003, Von Schweikert did demo their speakers with Spectron
Musician II amps. I believe Albert Von Schweikert used a VAC preamp in this
How about the Thiel CS 2.4s? If resolution with soundstage is what you're after they are worth investigating. My experience with older Thiels was they presented a top end with too much energy. The newer versions seem to provide the detail and air without bothering my ears.
Maybe it's my ears but they are definitely worth listening to.
First think TVAD could have point on the amp being issue.Cables are right ones to soften things up (sold Krell so needed to tell friends who bough Krell even though boss went elsewhere).Fact is you have one of my favorite speakers because I am someone who think gear is waaay overpriced new and used.
I'd say from your list the Dali's are a must.I sold a few lines years back (B&W,KEF and couple non-Brits).Of your list not familiar with Vienna enough (passed at show).PSB are bang for buck but I would go elsewhere myself.Sonus's are a hit or miss speaker in line.You might be a Maggie person if you have space.I don't like them and listen a lot at Friends who has classic 3.6/Bryston 4B ST I got him (he had III's before).Above mentioned Von Schweikerts aren't bad choice.I'd add maybe Spendor.Or used pair of B&W 803N/S.Audio Physic if you use them on long wall (the way they disperse).But I think Totem is damn hard to beat in terms of value though I'd check Usher line used.By ignoring patents and assembling in Taiwan they have big bang for buck.If you were going for new amp and it was low powered SS (pass),Class T (Redwine)or low tubes Silveline has great sound that is highly sensitive.But from your list think Dali is worth the hunt and Usher is you can find.