follow your heart not your budget ...
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I have the Maggies 1.6 hooked to a Marantz SR-18 in my home theater room with the maggie center and rear surrounds, I have not heard the other speakers you talked about. My wife and I picked these over the others we heard and never been disapointed in what we bought. the sound is awesome in our room, we turned our garage a few years ago in to HT room. the speakers gave us the sound we were looking for, very W I D E soundstage, it gave us a you are there sound, which some others did not, you need to go hear the speakers and pick one that will meet your needs. we did and are just LOVING IT. Greg
i hate when people throw new products into the mix (i.e., ignore your question), BUT i almost bought the joseph 22's two weeks ago, but then heard the meadowlark kestrel hotrods at the last minute. they have fantastic imaging and a smoother sound, particularly for female vocals -- and cost almost a grand less:) (list = $1500). you should definitely check them out. apparently, a lot of people prefer the kestrels even to the shearwaters, which is what i originally wanted to hear. the maggies are a totally different ball of wax. can't comment on the proacs or sparks.
I know many people rave about the RM22si. I bought a pair and had them for a month in my home. They were bright and very hard to listen to. I tried different cables, amps and interconnects with them and couldn't get them to sound even close to good. They sounded thin and congested. I traded up at the dealer I bought them from and bought Aeriel Acoustics. I also demoed a pair of the Kestrel Hotrods that Mateored spoke of. I can say without a doubt that they are much nicer than the Joseph Audios. They have a richer sound with unbelievable bass. They are a great deal at $1500 retail. I don't like the finish on them though. The veneer is not great and chips easily. I do think that the Shearwaters are better than the Kestrels, and you can probably get the non Hotrods for about $2250. They will give you the same full sound and are more refined. I don't have a lot of experience and am struggling with my setup, as you can see by my post, but I do have experience with the Kestrels and Joseph Audios. It's not even close. I also heard the Audio Physic Sparks and they sounded good in the listening room, but they are bright and detailed speakers that I think I would get tired listening to. Good luck
Room Size? The Proacs are gorgious sounding speakers with no low end whatsoever. In a small room they have image space and warmth that is second to none (and they can be driven by some wonderful low power tubes to make them even better!). In a medium room or larger they must have a sub, so their cost to listen to goes up $1K. The Magnepan 1.6qr are planars. You love planars, or you don't. No box speaker can give you the sound stage a planar does. As far as planars go, Magnepan is the standard others are measured against. For $1500 the 1.6QR will give you a sound stage that is big, rich and coherrent,clear and all without being loud. The more power the better.