I need help trying to decide which bookshelf speakers to purchase


Let me try to narrow it down.
I have an NAD T777 V3 with surround sound.  I am looking for two bookshelf speakers for stereo listening.  I want to keep the budget around $3K new or used.  Room size is 20' X 18' with an additional open foyer with a stair well and an opening to a hall way.  Not a totally closed square room.

So far I have tried the following speakers.  Elac UB5s, SVS Ultras, Revel Concerta 2 M16, Paradigm Prestige 15, and Dynaudio X18.  We don't have many audio stores around, so I can't listen to many speakers.  We have the Best Buys. and NFM, but not much else.  So far I have purchased all speakers without hearing them except the SVS Ultras.

I don't want to keep spending money on speakers without hearing them.  My plan is to get some recommendations on speakers, and travel to places that have new speakers so I can listen, or take a chance on used speakers without hearing them.

Let me list the speakers I have tried.  I would rate the speakers I have tried in this order (Favorite to least favorite)

Dynaudio X18,
Paradigm Prestige 15 (a close second),
SVS Ultras,
Elac UB5,
Revel M16

I noticed some speakers for sale on this site.

Totem Mani 2 Signatures,
T+A Elektroakustic TCD410,
Dynaudio Contour 20 Bookshelf Speakers


I know it's a stretch, but based on what I like in speakers so far, do you think I would like the ones I listed? What are their characteristics?
Thanks!
stttt
Sorry to hear you're using an AV receiver. Not much your speakers can do until you get something capable of giving them a good signal. Swap that thing out for a decent stereo integrated. Won't even cost you a dime. Sell your surrounds, all the other HT whatever, and with the money buy some decent cables.
@sttt,
Millercarbon is correct. You will achieve better results with a better amp and preamp.
I would recommend a pair of Vandersteen VLR's, but be sure to put them near the corners.
Many know me as a Vandy fanboy, but I have to say they really are quite good for the money-especially used.
Bob
Hey all. Thanks for your time. I have a 35 year old NAD 2200 and Pre-Amp, but I wanted new equipment, so I upgraded this year. This newer NAD is supposed to play in stereo mode and turn of surround sound. Has different zones. Is that any better? I hate to go back to my old stuff.
@OP,
Sometimes, it is better to have simplicity.
Your T777 should be more than adequate to power the Vandy VLR's.
I have no experience with the other speakers you listed.
B

Naturally your new NAD is capable of good driving of a pair of bookshelf speakers. Seems to be a nice piece. Not to very high spl's though. Any decent speaker cables will do. After you invested your first 40K dollars in equipment then you can maybe take a look at the cables. The Totem is a classic. I'd like a pair. 
I'd get the Paradigm Prestige 75Fs - no more floor space than the bookshelves on stands and radically better for your room size!
Gosta, I don't think I will spend 40K on equipment.  There would be a divorce and I would lose half of everything.
One word, Buchart S400's (Mads Burchart- of Denmark) 
There a pairs of Nola boxer listed on eBay ! For less than 800 I don’t think you can go wrong with it , do your hw on this one you will not disappointed! Good luck my friend 
Can't comment on the NAD T777. NAD equipment has evolved to include more digital equipment than analog. That said.......

I use a Nad C375BEE integrated for music only. Auditioned MANY bookshelf speakers and found that the clear winner was the PSB Imagine B. Probably because NAD and PSB are/were sister companies. I have never been able to find a good pair of PSB Synchrony 1B speakers since they have been out of production for several years but they are regarded as the superior PSB bookshelf.

If you want to change to a different amp then that starts a new search. If possible, try to audition your amp with PSB speakers. There may be other brands that sound better with NAD equipment but I haven't found them.

$3K. Dynaudio Special 40. Outstanding. At Audio Advisor you get the 40s and the correct Dynaudio Stand 6 thrown in. A $500 value. 

Not it sure what their return policy is. Crutchfield. Same speakers but no stands but 30 day trial period with a small return fee.

i doubt you return them. 
Sorry, I missed your request to not buy and return speakers. No Dynaudio near? 
I'd second atl4love's recommendation of that pair of Nola Boxers on ebay. I bought a pair of the originals and liked them so much I upgraded to the S1 version, sold the originals to a friend with a full McIntosh stack and now he's in love with the Boxers. They've worked beautifully for me with both tubes and solid-state. Do a search for reviews, there are quite a few online.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nola-Boxer-Speakers-Orig-Packing-Excellent-Sound-And-Condition-Rave-Reviews/202689277809?hash=item2f3138ef71:g:AnAAAOSwl0xc6Uye

I agree with millercarbon also.
Best bookshelf speakers I've ever heard are Lenehan Audio ML1 and ML2 reference.
With the money you have, you may get a pair of ML1's against the Australian dollar.
I currently run a pair of ML1 ultimates, with a Gieseler Groß DAC, Datasat RA2400 and Lenehan Audio Ribbonflex cables.

I cheat, I have springs under my speakers and under my amplfier - the springs make a significant difference.

stereo.net.au is a good place to see forum reviews.


For those who are into loudspeaker design/ building.
It has 3mm spring steel plates lining the cabinet, and the crossover has 12AWG hand wound air core inductors. The ultimate version has cast Duelund capacitors and resistors. They weigh 26lbs each, and are (12.8 x 6.7 x 10.0"). Not very well known in USA, but I do know that in New York City they bested Magico Mini's in a shootout.


What part of the world are you in?
On Saturday, June 29th from 10am-4pm in Scottsdale, Arizona
for $10 you may listen to Tekton, Spatial , ZU, Salk, Joseph, Sanders, LSA and MarkAudio-SOTA. Five of the above brands will fit your budget.
Show pricing for some models.
The AZAVClub.com is putting on this event and we need Attendees!!

Come one come all. Did I mention the just released D’Agostino gear we will have ???
Apoligies, ML1 ultimate and ML2 ultimate (ML2 ultimates are lined with solid copper plates, chosen due to copper's high Young's modulus) are the two best standmount speakers I've ever heard.
Think about the least expensive KEFs.
Post removed 
If you don't have anything constructive to say - move along.  Yeah - I'm talking to you bongofury!
Easy there big guy. What I said was constructive. I am moving along.
You need easy to drive speakers so Nola Boxer 3s for under $3000, great reviews of them all over the internet.
KEF LS50 are nice passive for very clear audio. I own the KEF LS50 Wireless (active), and I am a big fan of how they don’t get in the way of my vinyl collection. Apparently, in 2016-2017 they win a number of awards. Also, outstanding options for digital streaming, which I’m not heavily into other than Tidal or Spotify occasionally. The DSP of the LS50w is nice if you actually have to put them on a bookshelf or console as they have an associated App to control it based on your listening room. $2000 is a solid buy for these actives, and probably half that for the passives.
musicloversaudio, we do have Paradigm in town (KC) and I listened to them (Prestige 75F) and they sounded pretty good.  I agree they take up the same space when you consider a stand with a bookshelf on top of it.  I must be old school.  I like the bookshelf look. 
mrdon I had never heard of these Buchart S400's .  I am adding them to my list.  The reviews are good and they air ship them from Denmark free for a 30 day trial.  They must be confident.  I will say I would feel a bit guilty returning speakers all the way to Denmark if I did not like them.  Gotta
Totem Mani 2 are excellent but will need a decent amount of good quality power to come alive, need space around and behind them to show their potential, and require well built solid/heavy stands. Definitely not "book shelf" speakers.  
of the ones on your list, i was very impressed with the paradigm prestige + the dynaudio contour, though i don't know how they'd play with your nad (the dynaudio do need quite a bit of power). per jrpnde, however, i'd look seriously at psb, which has a definite synergy with nad--the synchrony are excellent and i frequently see them on ebay

Fritz Carrera and you're done.

Search this site for those names, and you'll find consistently glowing reviews.

atl4love added Nola Boxer 2, to the list.  Thanks!
dynguy I am interested in the Dyno Special 40, Contour 20, or the Evoke 20.  The Evoke is a new line and I am curious about those.  The nearest Dynaudio dealer is a couple hundred miles from here.  I may make the trip to check them out.

I am leaning toward Dynaudio, but want to hear some other speakers too.  I am not going to purchase anything soon.  I want to take some time and get it right. 

Like I said earlier, I tried these speakers and I like the Dyno's, but want to see whats out there for a better sound.  I really do like the X18s. Dynaudio X18,
Paradigm Prestige 15 (a close second),
SVS Ultras,
Elac UB5,
Revel M16

gdnrbob Bob, two speakers in one?  The tweeter inside the woofer?  I admit I am a real piker when it comes to audio, but that scares me.  I know Vandersteens have a tremendous reputation, and if I come across the VLRs or the VLR CT, I will take a look.  The Kef's look the same way and I have avoided them too.  Added to the list.

rixthetrick  Don't know if the wife would go with those colors.  The speakers appear to be well built speakers.  One speaker weighs 12kg (26.4lbs). Some heavy material in there.

firstnot I live in Misery.  Won' be coming to AZ anytime soon, but would love to see the event.
bongofury1956 Hi Bongo!

bignamehere I remember Kef back in the 80s.  I can't remember why I didn't like them.  I ended up purchasing Mordaunt Shorts back then and I loved them and wish I had never sold them.  I know the speakers today are better then those Shorts,  Those short could move some air.  You could actually see it. I was turned off by Kef back in the day and have not looked back.  Maybe I should give them a listen.  You may have talked me into a listen, but I'm skeptical.  I thank you for chiming in though.  It may open my mind.
loomisjohnson I am leaning toward Dynaudio.  I plan on selling the Prestige 15 b.

So far these are the ones I want to check.
Totem Forest or Mani-2 signature?

Nola Boxer 2

Buchart S400's

Dynaudio Special 40, Contour 20 or Evoke 20

Vandersteen VLR ct

Since Kef is sold all over, I will give them a listen. (still skeptical)
This search and audition will not happen overnight.  I need to save some more cash and sell some speakers.  I will add more to speakers to this list. I will post again when I finally make a purchase.  Thanks for your help!     

777 v3 has Dirac.   Makes such a huge impact that I think speaker choice is less critical with some of the quality pieces mentioned. Revel M16s I currently own are one my favorites.  Cambridge Aeros match in my theater are a great match for my 758 V3 and have a very different sound in mids that is very attractive.
brewered The Dirac works pretty good.  Takes a while to set it up.  I had to work with the Dirac folks to get it to work with Windows 10.  There was a minor coding error in the software and it wouldn't work on Windows 10.  I was basically their tester helping them get it to work with Windows 10.  I am in IT and my son is a programmer and I tried to resolve it myself, but in the end, Dirac fixed it for me.  They have since updated it the next version.  They were very responsive and great to work with.

It's funny how we have different preferences for speakers.  I did not like the Revels at all.  I never could get them set up correctly.  The bass boomed.  I think it was because of our room, and how the furniture is set up.  I think the speakers were too boxed in.  I put them in the garage with my old amp (NAD 2200) and they sound great out in the open.  I planned on selling them, but one of them fell off the freezer and broke the corner.  I duct taped it back up and will leave them in the garage now.  They can take a beating and keep on ticking.  It fell 6'
The surround sound sounds great, even with different speakers.  I think Dirac is responsible for that.  I just want a couple of really good speakers for the front/stereo.  Somehow the amp dedicates the amps to the front speakers when it is zoned correctly.  I think that's the term.  Turning on speaker B automatically puts it in stereo mode.
  
For a really good sound at a “moderate” price, look at Audioengine.