I would personally change the speakers. Perhaps you could look into the Golden Ear series of speakers? They have gotten rave reviews and are great for high quality stereo and home theater.
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You need to start listening to some equipment. You have an overall idea as to what type of sound you are looking for, but have no idea how to get it. You need to demo as much equipment as you can. This is not something you can throw money at. Aside from that, if you just bought new speakers, are you sure they're broken in? Put at least 150-200 hours on them before you judge them.
Focal does not have a huge rep for bass response at the lower price levels. Light airy highs and a liquid, neutral mid range are their forte. It is true what you write about a receiver not being great on two channel music, I have a Denon and had to work very hard with the settings to get decent two channel sound for music. One thing that helped me is I can bi-amp the fronts with the surround channels on the Denon, but focal speakers are not bi-wireable.
Since you are shooting for a 7.1 setup, I'd recommend using your sub and setting the receiver in 2.1 mode with the Arias when playing two channel music, that should fill the sound out.
I submit that the focals are an easy load for most amps, with a sensitivity as high as 92db, maybe a future purchase would be a pre amp with a home theater by pass, you tried using the maranta as a pre amp only, try it the other way around, with the marantz as amp only.
I was drawn to this thread because of the Arias, this is a speaker I'd love to have in my listening room. I would definitely run it in a 2.1 system, though. Digging deep is not really what their reputed to do well. Nice speakers though, congrats on them. If you do decide to swap them out, consider monitor audio's silver line, audition the rx-6 if possible.