I have three thoughts on this subject, have been considering it awhile myself as I listen around. 1. visual illusion affects the listening experience; small boxes image better because they look smaller and somehow that makes the image illusion more effective. 2. Sizzly tweeters kill imaging. 3. Room placement is probably more important to imaging than anything else. With all this said, the best-imaging speakers I've ever heard were Dynaudios, although my experience is not all that broad. Will be interested to hear other opinions.
I find very few absolutes in audio, but in my experience and in general monitors tend to pull the disappearing act better than floorstanders. My guess is that due to the smaller cabinet area around the drivers less sound is reflected that would otherwise give audible clues as to the speaker's presence. But, there are some floorstanders that disappear better than some monitors, hence my comment on absolutes.
That said, there are plenty of floorstanders that do a fantastic job of disappearing in a room and provide near full range performance, decreasing the need for a subwoofer. Some I've heard that do a great job of being heard but not seen that are in your budget range(no particular order): Soliloquy 6.2, Audio Physic Spark III, Joseph Audio RM22si, Silverline Panatella II, Thiel CS1.5(now 1.6), and the Triangle Antal(all but the Thiels should work fine with tubes). Although they are all excellent speakers and share the ability to hide in a room, each is very different sonically so, as always, try to hear as many as you can--but then that's half the fun, right? Best of luck.
i note that some one has just listed a pair of paragon jubilee/jems for 2300. i have owned these speakers for 5 years now and i can't speak too highly of them. see my prior posts on this board and on audio asylum for my comments. i can't figure out why anyone would sell them. they replaced my quad 63's which are now in the attic. these speakers truly disappear and are neutral and transparent. they are not a difficult load for an amp. i run my with a baron or a sonic's frontier. they are very revealing without being bright. paragon is out of business due to marketing problems not design and implementation. check them out.
I think that there is only one absolute in audio: if you are ever unfortunate enough to get zapped by the high voltages of a tube amp, and live, you will ABSOLUTELY never make that mistake again! Happy Tunes!
If you like how Mirage does it, check out their MRM-1 Reference Monitors. I'm running mine with a pair of VAC PA160 mkII monoblocks and they disappear on a daily basis. Well suited for small to medium rooms. I would not, however, recommend them for a large listening room.
I think that smaller speakers ( especially two ways ) have several distinct advantages over larger speakers:
1) The drivers are closer together, creating more of an illusion of a point source
2) There is less baffle area for diffraction
3) There is less cabinet to resonate or create a "boxy" sound
4) There are typically less components in the signal path / crossover to get in the way
Having said all of that, there are some larger speakers that can "disappear" wonderfully. Much of this is obviously their design. The other variables would be placement, room acoustics and the quality of signal being fed to them.
I have changed components within a system and gone from having two speakers in the room to having live performers in my room. The speakers didn't change, the room acoustics didn't change, but the signal chain did. Don't overlook your system and room as working as a "system". It all adds up or subtracts from the total presentation of what we hear. Sean
My 2 cents.
I have found the Paradigm Referance 100 ver.2 to completly disapear when I installed the AIG Imagers II's with Aragon 4004's MKII's. Image better than my B&W 802 w/BAT VK-60 mono's. ????
First of all let me compliment you on your choice of amps. The Aragon beats a good percentage of the known higher end amps, regardless of the price! Imaging and bass with the Aragon is incredible. My next step is Aragon 8008BB. I am currently using the 4004MKII which is pretty close, minus the balanced outputs that I am in pursuit of. If you would like an excellent match with your system, try, if you can find it somewhere, auditioning the Epos ES14. Incredible speakers. They are larger than your average monitors and ideally require their own stands. You will not be dissapointed. Don't play the price tag game. Because the speaker costs more does not make it better. I have had Martin Logans, Pro-Arc, Dynaudio, KEF, Vandersteen, B&W, and Sonus Faber and have still not been able to obtain audio erection. My favorite speakers have been of a little known nature. I have a pair of KEF Q60 speakers that I paid $300 for that have sounded as good and better than the B&Ws and the above mentioned.
Check out Totem. The Forest is a bit over your budget, but there are a couple of speakers in the line that are less, I just haven't heard them. The Forest images like crazy, has a wide and deep soundstage and can move a fair bit of air. The Aragon would be a good match, too. It is true, though, that imaging and soundstaging are very dependent on speaker placement and room acoustics, so keep fooling around with treatments and positioning. I improved my system a lot by moving it to a long wall setup, as described elsewhere on this site and on the Immedia and Audio Physic web sites. Noise on the power line also needs to be reduced as much as possible, as many spatial clues are very low level. Good luck.
try Von Schweikert speakers
VR4mkii's are legendary for disappearing in the room and giving great imaging
I have the old Vortex screens and they are marvelous
in a 15 by 27 long room I have them along the long wall equal distant from me (9 foot triangle).
spend time on the setup for imaging, move the speakers an inch at a time from the wall then from each other.
I get pinpoint imaging even with a 36 inch proton tv between and slightly recessed from the speakers. I get depth and sound extending beyond the speakers.
the speakers literally disappear in the room
small versus larger speakers
my von schweikerts are large monitor floor standing speakers but are designed to disappear in the room
when I sold B&W the larger speakers nautilus 801, 802, 803 were too caught up in cabinet noise, but the 805's with Vandersteen subs sounded better, less cabinet reverberation.
my old B&W matrix 2's have great sat characteristics
the cabinet's matric deadens the sound, none of the less expensive B&W monitor series today come close