I need your expertise selecting an amp & speakers

Well, the amp selection is multiple choice but the speakers are open-ended.

I started down this quasi-audiophile slippery slope around 2 years ago when I decided to upgrade my Paradigm 5 channel setup (Monitor 9s up front). I was using a Denon 3802 to drive them and I didn't really care for the sound. The room was pretty large and the speakers weren't able to fill it with sound. In retrospect the speakers were pretty decent so I probably should have tried some other things before upgrading them...

After a lot of research (and not a lot of auditioning) I decided on a pair of Magnepan 3.5Rs driven by mono-block Classe DR-15s and a REL Strata III sub using my Denon 3802 as a preamp. It was in a large family room with a half cathedral ceiling and the maggies did a great job of filling the room with sound. I intended to make this a 5 channel setup but never got around to selecting a center speaker or surrounds. I strongly prefer digital music (lossless) over CDs so I had a Sonos system with a Benchmark DAC1 with balanced output going directly to the DR-15s and bypassing the Denon when I wanted to listed to music.

2 years and 1 divorce later and I have downgraded my living arrangements significantly. The maggies are much to large for my new small living room (will provide dimensions/description in a follow-up after I find my tape measure but I'm guessing its 12x12 or 14x14).

I picked up several amps and other equipment I never got around to selling the items I wasn't using. So here's my complete inventory:

2 Classe DR-15s (stereo: 175wpc/8ohms, 350wpc/4ohms, mono: 700wpc/8ohms, 1400wpc/4 ohms)
2 Classe CA-100s (stereo: 100wpc/8ohms, 200wpc/4ohms, mono: 200wpc/8ohms, 400wpc/4 ohms)
1 McIntosh MC2120 (120wpc)
1 B&K Reference 3220 (3-channels, 220wpc/8ohms, 325wpc/4ohms, planned to use this for the center and rears)
1 Bel Canto eVo 200.2 (100wpc/8ohms, 200wpc/4 ohms )
2 Benchmark DAC1s (1 black, 1 silver)
1 Bel Canto DAC2
Pair of Magenpan MG 3.5Rs with Mye stands
REL Strata III sub
Blue Jeans Cable interconnects and speaker wires
Monster Power HTS 3500 power conditioner

Everything is in great shape so I'm looking to use what I have and just purchase new speakers. I also just purchased a Denon 2809 (4 HDMI inputs, new DACS, Audyssey tuning) that I'll use as a pre-amp for the fronts but maybe directly for the center and rear channels. I'd like to use 1 (or more if necessary) of the amps, 1 of the Benchmark DAC1s and the Strata III.

My priority is music and I listen to rock primarily. Depending upon the cost, I may just purchased 2 fronts now and get the 3 other speakers to complete the 5 channels later. I also watch movies but mostly at night when the kids are in bed so the volume is pretty low. I would like to have decent sound when watching movies and I can have moderate volume.

So, in addition to the small room and needing to keep the speakers close to the wall, I also have some young children and I'd like to keep the speakers away from them (if possible).

I just auditioned a pair of Magnepan MC1s which I thought would solve all of my problems: wall mounted so no concerns about taking up floor space, they're away from the kids, decent prices. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the sound. They remind me of the 3.5Rs somewhat but I'm missing the highs and they don't have a full sound.

I thought I might go with a full B&W setup with a pair of 683s in front. I haven't listened to them but I think they may be too big (physically and sound-wise) for the room.

I'm thinking a decent pair of bookshelf speakers along with the sub may give me the sound I'm looking for. I don't have a lot of time to audition different speakers so I'm trying to research as much as possible to create a short list.

My budget is $1500 for the front pair and I'm hoping to replicate the quality of sound I have heard from the 3.5 maggies (hopefully my expecations aren't too high).

I'm reading more about B&W, Dynaudio, Revel, Focal, AST, Von Schweikert and others. I know there are local dealers for B&W and Dynaudio but not sure about the others.

I heard a pair of B&W FPM4s (wall mounted) at a store but I was not impressed.

To today I was (virtually) looking at Salk SongTowers which also led to Strata Minis based on a review comparison. Then the Salk HT3s look very interesting! Are all of these too big for my room or can they be placed close to the wall? If these could work I might be able to rationalize going way over my budget with the HT3s by selling the REL and sticking with a 2-channel setup indefinitely...

The sources will be HD cable/DVD/Xbox/Apple TV and Sonos -> Denon 2809 -> separate amp. Also, for dedicated music it will be Sonos -> Benchmark DAC1 -> separate amp (using balanced cables if the amp supports it).

In summary, I'm looking for a pair of great sounding (especially for rock music) bookshelf or floor standing speakers which cost around $1500-2000 here on audiogon and can be placed within 6-10 inches of the wall. If they are bookshelf speakers I want a full range of sound which can fill the room when paired with a REL Strata III sub. The "ideal candidate" will be from a line which also has matching center and rears that can be purchased later. If you're making a recommendation then I'd appreciate your input on which of my existing amp(s) you'd pair them with and why.

Thanks for taking the time to read my long post!
Zooropa check these out all on the GON...

Focal Jm Lab Electra 1007 BE
Usher Be-718

2 Classe DR-15s for the monitors because the amps will bring the best out of the midrange and bass.
Thanks Lapierre, I appreciate your recommendations and will check them out.
Hi Zooropa.
I like your idea of bookshelves (standmounts, really)with that great sub.

You can't go wrong with anything from Focal or Usher. There are other great brands on AGon in your price range.

In general, speakers w/o ports should be placed near a wall and speakers w/ ports away from the wall.

Also, if you get standmounters you will need good stands which could cost $250 and up (up, up). Most AGon sellers of standmounters are also selling the stands (for additional $$$, of course).

You have a wide ranging collection of amps, so pick the speakers first and then match your amps.
Thanks for the feedback Mmarvin19.

At this point I'm leaning toward the Salk SongTowers. I exchanged some emails with Jim Salk (he's quick to reply!) and he said the SongTowers are fairly easy to place in a room and 12" clearance in the back should be fine. That's more than I was hoping for but the speakers are only 11.25" deep so its less than 2 feet into the room. That's about the depth of the cabinet which will house my equipment so I won't be taking up any additional floor space.

One update to my first post: the room dimensions are 14' wide, 15' deep with an 8' ceiling. The primary listening position is about 10' from the front wall and 7' from each side wall.

I haven't heard the SongTowers but the comments from people that have them over on the Salk forum on audiocircle.com are very encouraging.

I've posed this question to Jim but I'll post it here as well:
Any thoughts on which of my amps to pair them with?
Should I still keep the REL Strata III or will the bass be sufficient?
Magnepan has some very compact (about 9x12") panels coming out pretty soon. They use downsized elements from the 3.7 so they are very refined sounding. I just heard a demo of them last night. They're made to be paired with a separate woofer Maggie makes that's made of the same type of bass panel as the 20.1. I was very impressed with the sound of these. If you really like the sound of your Maggies, ou may want to hold off on your speaker purchase until you find out the timetable on this small panel model.
Hi Johnnyb53. I heard about their new design and saw some pictures as well. I don't know when they will be available or the price so I'm not sure about waiting (my 3.5Rs are too big for my room so I'm without speakers right now). Also, the bass units which have an "end table" design may be difficult to fit into my room.

Were the panels mounted on a wall or was there some clearance behind them? How would you compare the sound quality to other speakers you've owned/heard?
Hi Zooropa.

With the Salk Song Towers I would use your Classe DR-15 (175W @ 8ohms)unless the Salks are less than 8ohms. Of course, Jim Salk's opinion will trump everyone else's.

Def keep the REL sub. The Salks go down to about 40Hz and there is plenty of music info below that(down to about 25Hz).
Thanks for your input Mmarvin19.

Jim thought that any of the amps would sufficiently drive the Song Towers except for the Classe CA-100 (although I assume 2 would be fine in mono block mode).

I'm hoping that bass is low enough for me but I suspect I'll end up keeping the REL.

I think I'll wait until the Song Towers arrive before selling the other amps so I can audition them to see which sounds best.
02-06-09: Zooropa320
Hi Johnnyb53. I heard about their new design and saw some pictures as well. I don't know when they will be available or the price so I'm not sure about waiting (my 3.5Rs are too big for my room so I'm without speakers right now). Also, the bass units which have an "end table" design may be difficult to fit into my room.

Were the panels mounted on a wall or was there some clearance behind them? How would you compare the sound quality to other speakers you've owned/heard?
The bass units are a bit wide (maybe 24"), but they're low and very shallow. Also, they make them in various levels of trim so you can forego the glass tops that make them bigger and heavier.

The panels are designed with desktop or table top in mind. They were sitting on a table with about 1 foot in front of the wall.

As to the sound, that's precisely my point. Granted, to sell the idea, they had 4 speaker panels instead of two, and they had at least 150w feeding each speaker. The thing is, the speakers were up to the task. They reproduced the sound of a drum kit better than anything I've ever heard, and they were very transparent, fast, linear, and involving.

The woofer is very cool, as that panel responds up to 7kHz, making integration a breeze.

They sort of hedged about the price. They said they'd probably be more than a pair of 1.6s because it's a downsized 3.7, which integrates a maggie panel with a true ribbon.

Certainly the most amazing 10"x12" speaker (regardless of depth, which in this case is about an inch) I've personally ever heard.