Need feedback on loudspeakers


Hello All,
I have been researching a lot about loudspeakers lately - their measurements including sensitivity, impedance, phase, etc to make sure that they match in my system. Also had a chance to listen to a couple, but yet undecided, since I am not able to listen to all of the ones I have shortlisted below. I have a very short list of criteria for the speakers:

Sensitivity more than 88db
Nominal impedance 8 ohms and minimum not dipping below 3.5 ohms
Go down to about 27-30Hz
Price range is about $7k new/used

The loudspeakers that I have short listed are:
Spendor D7
PSB Imagine T3
ProAc D30
PMC Twenty 24
Tannoy Definition DC10T
Revel F208
Focal 1038 (used)

Could also consider the following, but not sure if they would match in my system because of their nominal 4 ohms impedance:
Sonus Faber Olympica III (used)
ProAc D40R (used)
Audio Physic Scorpio 25 (used)
PMC Twenty 26 (used, but has low sensitivity)

I love speakers that have the sound image starting about 2-3 feet behind the speaker front face, throw a wide image and disappear completely. That is what my current speakers do. My room is 15 X 18 X 8 and the speakers are placed very precisely (5feet from back wall and 3 feet from side walls) to achieve this imaging. I have a few panels to tame the sound in the room. My amp is Parasound A21 and I have an excellent Promitheus TVC. Current sources are able to effectively drive the amp and the speakers, without any issues.
I have listened to PSB Imagine T3 and Audio Physic Classic 20, and found that they image per my liking.
I know I have listed too many speakers. But would love to hear from owners of these brands on the "vocal characteristic" of the loudspeakers, now that I have provided a brief explanation of my preferences. There is no denying that the best way to seek a set of speakers is to audition in person. But sometimes this is not possible. Please provide your feedback, as much as you can. Thank You in advance!
milpai
I would definitely listen to some Tannoys. I have a vintage pair of 12" HPD Dual Concentric I use every day, and they have the deepest soundstage of most any speaker I've heard, also they sometimes project a wrap-around effect that is very enjoyable.

Regards,
Dan

Unless your listening room is in an auditorium, may I ask why you are concerned about speakers of 4 ohm nominal impedance when you have a Parasound A21?  It puts out 400 wpc RMS into 4 ohms. 

I drive 4 ohm Vienna Acoustics with my Marantz Reference PM15S2 that only puts out 140 wpc into 4 ohms without any issues.  The volume makes me back of the knob long before the amp ever gets warm.  Or even remotely gets close to clipping.

On your first list, I have heard the Spendor D7 and PSB Imagine T3 and both were very impressive.  On your second list, I have heard the SF Olympica III's and would suggest you seek out an audition.  You'll have no problems driving them.

Dan,
Thank you for the feedback on the Tannoys. I believe I did listen to the Tannoy 10A at AXPONA last year. I believe they were fairly new pair of loudspeakers. Sounded slightly upfront than what I am used to. But will seek out more audition.

Paraneer,
Very good question on why I am concerned about 4 ohm loudspeaker. As I have mentioned, I have a TVC. A TVC generally sounds best when you are not near the maximum value position. My TVC has 24 positions for maximum volume. Currently I am listening to anywhere between 14-16, depending on the loudness of the CD/SACDs and more recently, Bluetooth streaming.If I get a more sensitive speaker, this position would go much lower and I can derive maximum benefit as far as sound quality is concerned. Mind you, in my system anything above position 17 drives me off the room, since it is too loud.
If you could compare and contrast between the Spendor D7 and the PSB T3, that would be helpful, since I am aware of how the PSB sounds. About the Sonus Faber - did they sound better than the D7 and T3?
I've never owned a Spendor that I didn't like !

I would give a nod to the Spendors I heard but in all fairness, they were driven by ARC electronics. Full bodied sound but very accurate too.

The PSB T3’s I recently heard at Axpona and driven by NAD gear. Very nice too but I preferred the Spendors.

I liked the Olympics III’s best of all. Driven by a 200 wpc McIntosh in my audition. Very powerful speaker and sounds much larger than it looks. Again, I encourage you to give them a listen.


I think you may be confusing sensitivity and efficiency? For an amp like yours, I’d only look at sensitivity (usually spec’d at 2.83V). Provided the amp can drive the impedance (yours can), an 88dB sensitivity 4 ohms speaker will play just as loud as an 88dB sensitivity 8 ohm speaker, with no difference in volume setting for equal output. The efficiency (rated at 1W, not at a voltage!) of the 4 ohm speaker would be 3dB lower, but that doesn’t actually matter (at any volume setting level, the amp will put 3dB more power into the 4 ohms than into 8 ohms, that’s all).
If you can run at 4 ohm, I recommend adding Wilson Sophia 2's to your list.  I recently upgraded my speakers to this model and I am extremely happy.  Prices used are excellent at about $6500 - $7500 right now, darn good value for a $16,700 speaker.
My only advice is very generic. When possible, you should always audition speakers at home. 
Seriously  look at ClaytoN Shaw Speaker the Hologram-3
Open baffle speaker. 45 day audition.  Buy the S version better compression driver
And a turbo Xover option. It is s open baffle design, 2-15 inch drivers 
And a Great compression driver 94db @1W 4 ohm and crossover at a very low
800 HZ. At only 3 ft tall it sound great and very open yet images very good.
I had the revel F8 which were pretty redpectable. The Spatial audio M3
Beat them on many levels  .and who else will give you 45 days to try out.
Great speakers   .

Paraneer,
When I hear the Imagine T3, they had partnered it with the NAD. I feel digital amp tech has not yet caught with Class AB amplification. The Totem Forest Signatures were driven by some nice McIntosh. I felt that was the reason why the NAD sound felt a bit "blunt" compared to the Totems. The salesman was pushing me to the Totem and that is what put me off.
How would you describe the sound of the Spendors compared to the PSB?
About the Olympicas, I have read a number of threads that stated they do not go a deep. For the price that one pays for these loudspeakers, I would hope they would go much deeper. They are rated as 40Hz and that is what my current speakers rated. I am sure the quality of Sonus 40Hz is much better than my loudspeaker 40Hz. I will try to audition them.

bwaslo,
I am sure, it is sensitivity I am thinking.

marktomaras,
Thank You for the suggestion. But Wilsons are not on my list.

gsm18439,
Absolutely agree. Trust me, when I built the system in 2005, I was in the Bay Area (CA) and every single component was purchased from brick-n-mortar shop, except for the cables. My amplifier dealer at that point, loaned me NAD, Cambridge and Arcam integrated to listen at my home. But with many brick-n-mortar shops closing down, this is unfortunately not possible, unless you live in/near a big city.

audioman58,
I am really not into open baffle loudspeakers, at least for now. Who knows how things change in future.

Please keep the feedback coming. Would really like to hear about various characteristics of the loudspeakers listed. If you have compared any of the speakers listed above, would like to hear about their strengths and weakness.
I have the O3.  I can assure you there is more than enough bass.

And it sounds great.
How would you describe the sound of the Spendors compared to the PSB?

To me, I preferred the Spendors over the PSB's - they sounded more full bodied yet the slight upper bass coloration I did hear did not affect their accuracy.  Very resolving speaker.  I also was at a dealer where I had more control over the music played and they were driven with electronics more to my liking.  The PSB's were heard in a suite at Axpona with NAD gear that I also think was digital.


About the Olympicas, I have read a number of threads that stated they do not go a deep. For the price that one pays for these loudspeakers, I would hope they would go much deeper. They are rated as 40Hz and that is what my current speakers rated. I am sure the quality of Sonus 40Hz is much better than my loudspeaker 40Hz. I will try to audition them.

Another more controlled audition at a dealer, with my own music and ss electronics.  I found no faults with the bass and I thought the Olympica III's were rated to 35 Hz?  Sure sounded like they were to me.  And yes being a true 3 way, even 40 Hz bass from these would sound quite different crossed over to a dedicated midrange driver.  They impressed me the most but unfortunately out of my price range

But this is a classic case of why one must hear all speakers on their short list if possible.  We all hear and perceive what we hear differently.  And preferably we can hear these speakers in our own home with our own electronics.  There are simply too many variables when heard at a dealer or a show.  But even these types of auditions are better than none at all.  Good luck to you in your search.

As brick-and-mortar shops close down, more manufacturers are offering in-home trial periods. Tekton, Spatial, Zu, to name three. If consumers are more demanding, I think that more manufacturers will follow suit. I am not sure where you live, but I have even had local delears/distributors visit me with one or more speakers in-tow. 
Paraneer,
Your feedback on PSB vs Spendor is much appreciated. I am surprised that the Spendor sounded more full bodied than the PSB, since the PSBs have more drivers. You are correct on the Olympica III. They are rated at 35Hz. But the Spendors and PSBs go down even further at 29Hz and 24Hz(+-3db). The Olympica III even used are a stretch, and my wife would kill me. But I will give them a try.

gsm18449,
I have listened to various Zu at AXPONA last year. But I was somehow not impressed. And they most likely do well with tubes, where I am all for solid state. I am near Cleveland, and do not have dealers near me for any of these loudspeakers except the Revel. I will have to travel south 3 hours to listen to PSB, Focal and Sonus, which is perfectly fine. I plan to do that soon. The dealer closest to me has Revel and GoldenEar. I had listened to GoldenEar at AudioConcepts in Dallas Texas and did not like them. Also to me, loudspeakers are also "instruments of music". From that aspect, I do not like the looks of GEs. They also have DSP in them, and I tend to stay away from such loudspeakers. Bash me for how I feel, but that is what I feel.
Hands down, find a nice used pair of Verity Parsifal Encores. These usually sell used in the $5k to $6k range for a speaker that was $20k new and will best all the speakers you listed.  I have owned a pair since 2004, they are excellent speakers.

Milpai,

Not sure where your located, but Audio Revelation is located in Carlsbad CA and they carry the Proac and Tannoy line. Jay is a good guy will give you his honest opinion on both lines. I purchased my D-30R's from him and have been very pleased with them.
Your feedback on PSB vs Spendor is much appreciated. I am surprised that the Spendor sounded more full bodied than the PSB, since the PSBs have more drivers
.The electronics used and my own music that I brought with me for the demo will make a difference.  You may arrive at an entirely different conclusion.  Good luck and keep us posted with your findings.

@cmach . Totally agree with you.  Jay at Audio Revelation is an honest guy that helps you get the most out of your equipment.  He certainly doesn't try to sell you the most expensive piece, but rather the one he honestly thinks will create the best synergy with what you already have.  Great guy and a great lineup of brands.  No, I've no affiliation with him other than I sure wish I lived in Carlsbad, Ca. 

Milpai, I'd strongly recommend you give him a call.  As previously stated, he has both ProAc and Tannoy.  Regards.............
Paraneer,
When I purchased the Parasound A21 locally, I found that one's room makes a HUGE difference. I was comparing the amp section of my then NAD C352 to the A21 at the dealers, and the "upgrade" in sound was alright. But when I got the amp home, it was a HUGE difference. There was no comparison.

cmach,
Can you please elaborate the extremes frequencies of the ProAc D30R? How low does that speaker go? They are listed at 20Hz, but I have doubts with just a single driver doing the mid/woofer duties. What other loudspeakers (brands) did you compare the D30R with, while auditioning? I am near Cleveland OH. So shipping from CA would be a kind of expensive. But nevertheless I will reach out to Jay and discuss with him, since he has ProAc, Tannoy and KEF. BTW, I moved from Laguna Beach, years back to my current location.

carmenc,
Thank You for the suggestion. What loudspeakers do you have?
@milpai ; you're welcome.  I have Tannoy dc8 monitors.  Love them.  Just got done placing them on their new Skylan stands.  I had Proac d20r, but sold them as my room is rather small.  I had Tannoy Precision 6.2 previously, but these Definition series are in a whole new league.  Warm midrange yet lively and rhythmic.  I don't detect the slight midrange glare that I did with the Precision.  Now I'm on a journey for cables.  I'm having good results with solid core and the Tannoys.  I do have to say that the Proac midrange is quite magical and emotional as I like to call it.  Best of luck to you!  Regards........

carmenc,
Thank You for letting me know about your speaker journey. If you were to go into a room like mine, which of the 2 speakers you would have preferred? The D20R or the DC8? I consider my room as medium, but some might call it small, and I would agree.
As for cables, I suggest that you try to reach Paul at Clear Day cables. Let him know about the speakers your own and he will send you the correct configuration of cables. I found that he does not try to sell you more than what is needed. At the same time, you will be surprised by how excellent his cables are.
You are one lucky SOB.  There is a pair of Joseph Audio Perspectives for sale here now in your price range that rarely come up used.  They do everything you're looking for.  Hurry.  They won't last long, and you can sell them at no loss if you're an idiot and don't like them (just kidding about the idiot part).  Best of luck. 

Totem Forest Signature is very dynamic at even low levels and very spatial...sound staging champs!!

@milpai .....thanks much for the cable advice.  I've read a lot about Clear Day cables and am quite curious.  In your size room, I'd probably try and stretch for the Proac d30r.  They have tighter and better quality bass than the 20r.  The Tannoys are very good though and seem to be at home playing a wider range of music types.  If I listened to mostly vocal and small jazz groups like I used to, the Proacs would be my choice.  Nowadays I mix it up more with various genres and the Tannoys seem to respond better as they're more dynamic.  Tough call really.  Regards......

Thanks for letting me know soix :-)

dave_b,
Last year I auditioned PSB Imagin3 T3 and the Totem Forest Sigs in DC area at the same dealer. I felt it was a unfair contest, since the PSBs were hooked up to the new NAD separates (M series) while the Totems were hooked to some high end McIntosh. The rep was pushing me towards the Totems, when I actually went in to hear the PSBs. That sort of put me off on the Totems. Nevertheless the Totems sounded pretty nice. One thing I did find - you need to really "up" that volume on the amp to get the Totems to sound up to their full potentials. At lower volumes they loose their charm.

carmenc,
You are welcome. Hope you have the same positive experience that I have with Clear Day. As far as I can recall the demo of the Tannoys I had last year at AXPONA, I can very well understand what you mean by the "dynamic" sound of the Tannoys. If I were to guess what you mean, I think they are more upfront than the ProAc - is that right? Looks like I have to do a bit of traveling this summer to listen to a few speakers. One more loudspeakers that impressed me was the LeHave floorstanding model at AXPONA. But it is beyond my budget.
The Magnepan 3.7i is very good. I bet the combo of an A21 and the 1.7i would sound sweet indeed. I have the MMG's and have heard the 3.7. I was astonished by the sound from a good amp.
FYI, Totems are renowned for low level dynamics.  If they did not deliver low level excitement than they were not properly fed enough juice.  Macintosh is notoriously over rated and under powered!  Also, use MIT cables if you want to hear music and not just random emphasis in various frequency domains from wires with variable results.
2pysyop,
Thank You for the recommendation of the Magnepans. I am sure they would sound good in the right system. For my requirements, they are simply too large a speakers and they are slightly less efficient than what I am looking for.

dave_b,
Don't get me wrong; the Totems sounded pretty good. I will consider them again when I visit DC next month.
Don't get me wrong either...I don't own Totem speakers now but I have had several of their speakers over the years and was impressed with their dynamic contrast and 3D soundstaging.  Another obvious choice for superior sound reproduction would be the Wilson Sophia 1 or 2 used.  Very few of the other speakers on the list mentioned here can compete with the Wilson speakers.  Remember, the speaker reproduces whatever flows downstream....sometimes a mismatch in quality will high-lite the discrepancy,  
dave_b,
No issues at all. I found that a local dealer carries Totem and Revel. I will have a chance to compare the Totem Sigs to the Revel F208. I have heard Revels a long time back and do not recollect their signature sound. But I know many on this forum like Revel sound.
Any feedbacks from Revel/Audio Physic/PMC owners?
Specifications as you listed mean absolutely nothing.....you must listen and like the speaker you buy.  Any perceived wart not revealed in the specs will eventually become intolerable and a waste of money.
To an extent, yes stringreen. One thing is, because of the TVC, I really need to take care of the loudspeaker sensitivity. A loudspeaker with low efficiency might sound great in a system that has a powerful amp and an active linestage. But it might not sound in my system, as I would be close to the max volume level on my TVC. So, specs would matter to a certain extent. I am trying to find genuine experiences of folks on this forum who own some speakers mentioned, that would be worthwhile driving a few hours to audition.
I have not heard the Spendor or Tannoy's listed, but of the others, I would suggest the ProAc's for your preferences.
Seeing you enjoy jazz and classical and are used to a good stable image and deep stage, audition the D7 as well as the new D9. Also hear a classic Spendor ; preferably sp1 in latest incarnation. Best on the true sounds of instruments in a concert hall setting

If you get a chance, take a listen to a pair of Klipsch La Scalas or as said magnapan 3.7. They sound better as they wear in. Yes a little large but sound great.
I own PSB T3 imagines! Pair for a little over 7000.00! Excellent sound, warm , very nice looking! Will tell you this! Theirs a old adage in electronics, a superior amp will make cheaper speakers sing! Buy very expensive speakers and drive them with a medium priced amp and preamp is a waste of money! Watts arnt the issue, it's amperage! Spend your money on a Jeff Rowland amp, then buy moderate speakers !!!!
I own PSB T3 imagines! Pair for a little over 7000.00! Excellent sound, warm , very nice looking! Will tell you this! Theirs a old adage in electronics, a superior amp will make cheaper speakers sing! Buy very expensive speakers and drive them with a medium priced amp and preamp is a waste of money! Watts arnt the issue, it's amperage! Spend your money on a Jeff Rowland amp, then buy moderate speakers !!!!
For $7000, I would be all over listening tests of B&W's diamond series.
You can't find a company that had done more actual research, makes their cabinets (now) and drivers, and has the lightest, stiffest tweeter possible with today's technology, diamond dust! 
Take A look Bache audio 002 , if you close  to Connecticut   or
Chicago you can get  Listen Or Read The Review in http://hometheaterreview.com/bache-audio-002ab-floorstanding-speaker-reviewed/   
Thanks knownothing.

hm1, I am hoping to audition the Spendor at some point. Really interested. Way back in 2005, I spoke to a dealer in the Bay Area and for some reason he kind of said that Spendors have peculiar sound that you either like or don't. Never followed-up after that. So will do it this time.

wwaterman2,
The Klipschs and Magnepans are a bit too large for me. But thanks for the recommendations.

pennsy,
I do understand what you are saying. I really take time carefully matching my system and the components I purchase, since I am not a equipment swapping guy. The A21 is a awesome amp that I like and it matches my TVC. The TVC matches active line stage at least up to $4.5K. I experienced that in my system. I am very much happy with my system and can confidently say that I just am looking at loudspeakers at this point.

danvignau,
I will check out if a local dealer has B&W 804s with them. That is the only one I can aim for at this point. But last time I heard these at a shop, with McIntosh gear, they sounded a bit analytic.

bache,
The 002 seems nice loudspeakers, but way out of my range. I would prefer a non-active loudspeaker.
pennsy ,
Also wanted to point out that most folks don't "get" the loudspeaker positions correct in their room. Precise measurements make a HUGE difference. Amplifiers are a distant third/fourth when compared to things like positioning your loudspeakers in the room, acoustic treatments, etc. You can easily make out if one loudspeaker is 1/2 inches incorrectly placed w.r.t. the listening position, when compared to the other, that is placed correctly. My room is purpose built. My current loudspeakers are 10+ years old and I have taken great care to correctly place them. At this point, I know I have extracted the MAX out of them. I want something that I can live with at least for the next 10+ years. I will not be able to afford getting new gear every 5 years, since kids would be heading to college. I would rather spend months researching new loudspeakers, rather than rushing out to buy a new speaker, only to be disappointed.
Any feedbacks from Revel/Audio Physic/PMC owners?

Give serious consideration to the Revel F208's.  Great sounding speaker I think will be hard to beat in that price bracket.  Beautiful cabinets as well.  Plus, you already have a great amp to drive them.  The A21 is known to be a great match to the Revels.  The Parasound has very high current which Revels are known to like. 

tdimler,
That was supposed to happen today. Unfortunately could not go visit the local dealer who has them, I believe. But will certainly check them out. And yes, it is the same dealer from where I got my A21. Thanks for the recommendation.
A lot of great speakers there... but... (there's always a but)... very few speakers image or stage as well as dipole, or open baffle, speakers (or "hybrid open baffle" speakers).  

So... I agree with the suggestion above... to give the Spatial Holograms a try (no risk trial).  The sound of Maggies, but with great dynamics and bass.  

And... very little sounds as good as the new Nola Brio Trio, which are also easy to place.  They do it all at a very reasonable price.  

Or... if you want the "best sound for your money" - try  the Wavetouch Audio Grand Tetons - which "hang with the best."  Though, they are not open baffle speakers they image and stage about as well, with great resolution, dynamics and bass - or, at least, the owners, professional reviewers and show opinions seem to think so.  And, they're efficient, so you could even experiment with some superb tube amps.  

I'm one that believes very few of the "big names" offer real value (superb sound for the money).  These speakers demonstrate that "in spades."
Thanks for the recommendation bassdude. I agree that not all "big names" offer real value. That is why you see the TVC in my system. But some "big names" do deliver the value in spades. Hence you see the other components. I try to listen to the components before making a purchase. I am looking for a floor stander that is not too big in my room.
So, I visited the local dealer to audition Revel and Totem. Unfortunately the F208 and Forest Signatures were not available. But I auditioned the F206 instead, with the CDs I bought along. I really liked the F206. It did not sound forward, had ample bass, even though it was being driven by a Sony flagship receiver and not really a pre/pro combo. I never thought front-ported loudspeakers could generate so much bass. The dealer then suggested me to listen to Totem Elements Fire bookshelves, that cost twice the F206. I found the speaker to be too forward for my taste and the bass was not enough. This speaker was driven by Parasound P5/A21 combo with a Blu-Ray player. The speaker did some good imaging; but like my previous experience of the Element series, I was under-impressed. Maybe some folks like speakers with "hot tweeters", but it was not my cup of tea. I am wondering how the F208 would compare with the F206. Then I went about checking other rooms and found the GE Triton 5. I auditioned this one too, but it simply did not rock my boat. At the end of the auditioned the dealer mentioned a special deal on Revel flagship Salon 2 floor demo. These were really special and sounded great even in a squarish room. This was some speakers that you could keep listening for hours. But even with that special pricing it was way beyond my reach.
I was really impressed with the F206 and I still have a few more loudspeaker to audition, before I make a decision. I am hoping folks here would be able to provide me with more feedback, now that I have at least provided some information on my preference, when it comes to loudspeaker "voicing".
Drove about 3 hours to a dealer who carries Sonus, Focal and B&W besides a few others. He did not have the Olympica II, so I ended up listening Olympica III with Devialet 200 and BlueSound Vault. Cabling was probably Nordost Valhalla or one level below. The sound was musical and surprisingly warm. Bass was pretty nice and the room was treated. But this is as-of-now out of my budget. Since they had the B&W 804D3s, I listened to these as well. This was partnered to Plinius integrated and Vault. Again, cabling was by Nordost. Unfortunately it was a a disappointment. The sound was no where as musical to the Sonus. In fact my existing loudspeakers are more musical. I WANTED to like the 804D3, since it was somewhat close to my budget. But somethings are not meant to be. The speaker may be fine, I think; but personal tastes differ.
Also over the past week, I did reach out to Jay from Audio Revelation, as some of you had suggested. What a fine person - very courteous and patient. Even when knowing that I might not be a potential customer (I had mentioned I was not from his area), he took time to explain the different lines that he carried, what I should look for and even responded to all the emails I had sent. I had considered the ProAcD30R and am stil considering the D48R, since I am looking at long term and not changing loudspeakers immediately. But for my room he recommended the D30R.
I am now wondering if anyone has had a chance to compare the Sonus Faber Olympica II/III with the PSB T3, the Spendor D7 and the ProAc D30R.

I've heard the D7 and it is outstanding. 
FWIW, I demo'd the Sonus Faber Olympica III and PSB Imagine T3 side by side and from what I heard, there is no comparison. Not that more money necessarily means a better product, but the O3 tweeter and in-house developed cross-overs, technology, construction and design truly set it apart. A local audio store helped me with the comparison. Both speakers were hooked up to Bryston amp/pre amp set up (not sure model), set at same sound settings, and played the exact same digital FLAC playlists from opera, Movie soundtracks, vocal jazz, instrumentals, rock, rap and metal. I spent about an hour with each pair.  Without a doubt, the O3s had such a tremendous presence with wide soundstage, open sound, clarity and precision that the PSB just couldn't keep up with. PSB makes a good speaker, but not great when compared to these from SF. They sounded muddled and boomy, with a decided lack of depth and dimension,  The vocal clarity wasn't there, and the midrange was cloudy sounding.  I don't pretend to know about the technical side of sound and how to sonically compare and describe the differences--you just have to sit and compare for yourself. 

I owned pair of SF Venere 3.0 for about a year and a half, and knew I wanted to stay with this brand at least for now.  I liked the sound of the Venere, and these were my first foray into better quality speakers.  My set up is 18X15 room with furniture that acts as acoustic treatments, one James 15 inch subwoofer EMB-15 I believe, KimberKable and preamp/amp from Marantz 8801/8807.  Obviously not super high-end equipment to drive these, but I want to get to know the sound with what I have first, then change things up a bit.  I did end up purchasing the O3 from classified from this site (The seller, suspect1977, was tremendous by the way). I can't tell you how happy I am with these speakers--a logarithmic improvement in sound. I think the Marantz amps provide enough power, and to my ears, sound as good as I remembered the Bryston sounding. A big jump in price, but everyone has their pressure points and desire to improve just a little more...These speakers will be with me for a while, and I'll explore different amps or cables along the way.

PS> If anyone cares to suggest upgraded amp/preamp pairing with these speakers, I'm all ears.:)  Since I just blew a wad of cash on these speakers, lets keep the price range say 8-10K? For NEXT YEAR...