Need help choosing spkrs I've never heard

This is the first time I've used Audio Forum but need assistance fm my fellow 'philes. I need to downsize and I've short listed the following: Paradigm Signature S8, Von Schweikert VR-4 SR and Aerial 9. While I have heard at some point or another, vaious models fm these vendors, I've never heard any of the specific candidates. No dealers of any within 200 mi, so really looking for you input. Other's I have owned - Revel Salon Ultimas, Infinity Betas, Genesis 200 Mk IIs and Legacy Focus 20/20. Hopefully that will give you an idea of my sonic tastes - accuracy, a more forward presence, holographic "you are there" depth and imaging, but this time around, due to being in a connected town house, deep base (so long as it's clean!) is not as important. Front end is Sony SCD-777ES, Kora Hermes, Sonic Frontiers L-3/Power 3s. I read in a thread that a lot of guys have their mind made up before they post "which should I choose, this one or that?" - but in this case it's a level table and I'm open to input. Have to make decision by Monday 3/17/06. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO ASSIST!
I strongly recommend traveling to hear the speakers you're considering, rather than blindly spending thousands of dollars on something you've never heard and may not like. By the way, did you mean Monday 3/13 or Friday 3/17? What's the rush?
buying speakers you have never heard is the worst move you could make,you can change amps, preamps, sources & cables till the cows come home but if your not happy with the sound from your speakers no amount of upgrading or tweaking will make you like the sound.

dont do it.
Don't do it!!!
It seems for the amount you have spent before and the amount you are looking into now would justify a day or two off work and a road trip............ am I wrong?
Ditto what the other guys are saying about auditioning. You must add Wilson Benesch Act to this list if it's within your budget. They are a piece of art and perform just the way you described above.
Triller,Only ever buy speakers you can hear in your own home and system.
Find a Hi Fi dealer who will allow you to try at least 3 different speakers after hearing a range of them in their showroom.
There are just too many variables.
Speakers depreciate quickly so it is easy to make an expensive mistake.

If you truly know yourself when it comes to your loudspeaker likes and dislikes, and if you know enough about loudspeaker design to recognize what you're looking for when you see it, then yes there's a good chance that you could make an excellent choice sight unseen.

Unfortunately if your speaker choice is going to be significantly swayed by the recommendations you get here on Audiogon, you probably aren't there yet. The majority vote doesn't settle anything, nor does the well-crafted prose of the most eloquent proponent of his or her favorite speaker.

All of which brings me around to saying the exact same thing my friend Brian said - embark on a pilgrimmage and seek out the answer. Four grand well spent will get you a lot farther than eight grand poorly spent. Drive or fly depending on what it takes, and have fun doing it!

You've owned some very nice systems. I'm quite familiar with the Betas and Genesis systems, and have heard the Revels and Legacys. My favorite among them is the Betas. Omigod that was a lovely, lovely loudspeaker! A beast to drive, but feed it well and it would sing for you.

My worthless recommendation? Of the speakers on your list, the Von Schweikerts will come the closest to emulating the Betas. Given your description of your connected townhouse situation and your stated sonic priorities pardon me if I put my dealer hat on and nominate the Gradient Revolution as another possibility (e-mail me if you'd like and I'll try to justify the nomination).

Best of luck in your quest,

I agree with all the others who say that you really need to hear the speakers yourself... especially when shelling out the kind of bucks we are talking here.

For what it is worth, I heard the VR4SRs a year ago, and did not like them at all. That said, you may feel otherwise if they are closer to your preferences... I *did* like the DB99s though quite a lot (the next up in the VS line), and would easily recommend those for the money and outright (maybe used you could find them used for the same price or less than the SRs new).

I have not heard the other two you are considering, so I can't comment on them.

Other speakers worth a look in your general price range +/- based on my own listening experiences and preferences are the Dali Helicon 800s, Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Signature System (I), Merlin VSM MXs, and the already mentioned VS DB99s.

I agree with the dont but without hearing. But they also can sound quite different with your own room and equipment. Here are two options. My dealer (about 6 hour round trip away)is willing to order and then I get to listen in his store prior to buying. If I like and buy, then he installs and gives a 30 day in home full cash refund if for any reason I do not like them with my home system.
The other option is to find speakers near you on your short list at a good used price, audition it in the seller's home, and then be able to resell easily if you dont like it in your system. This takes patience but patience sweetens passion.
Shame on me. I've bought my last two sets of speakers having never heard them. And had absoltely no buyers remorse. The set I have now I do not forsee them ever being sold.
You've chosen some highly regarded brands. There ARE reasons as to why they are highly regarded.
I now think one realitively viable method of judging a brand is by perusing such sites as Audiogon and noting which models are the hardest to come by used.

You never know how a speaker will REALLY sound until it's in your environment being powered by your equipment.
I'm with Hbarrell. The best thing about this site is that a person can buy a pair of speakers used, try them in their home, and if they don't like them, sell them for the same price they paid for them. Also, I disagree with Duke in that yes, people on this site do tend to recommend what they currently have, but how can that be a bad thing? It's not worthless at all, It's a good starting point to listen to the opinions of others who have the equipment already, and read what they think about it. There's tons and tons of different equipment and combinations of equipment, so much that it's impossible to audition each and every peice or combination of pieces, so sometimes, you just have to take a chance and try it without hearing it first. It's no big deal to do it. Good luck to you.

Your a lucky guy.I envy your situation.How boring life can be knowing the future.Pick one out of your hat,throw it away and choose one of the other 2.Unless its hurts to throw it.Then take that one.Let us know,this is fun,Bob

Well my choice of wording was poor. I see opinions here as quite valuable for letting someone know what the possible contenders are. But the final decision should not rest on other people's opinions.

im with duke,the problem with buying based on recomendations is that even though most of us love what we have right now in 6 months its a different story & reselling speakers is not the easiest thing to sell if you dont like them without taking a hit in the wallet.
Duke: Well put, that was my point. The recommendations are invaluable to set up a list of contenders, but sometimes it just isn't possible to audition speakers in a showroom. My point is don't be afraid to buy a pair of speakers without auditioning them. Look, if a majority of people here have the opinion that the VR 4jr. sounds great, the chances are it does. If I want to try it, I can always find a pair here for $2500.00. I can buy it, live with it for awhile and if I don't like it, I can sell it for $ 2500.00. Where's the loss, except for a few bucks in shipping? Let's say it costs $100 to ship and I live with it for 5 months before selling it off again. In that scenario, it cost me $20.00 a month to have the pair for audition. Where's the big hit in the wallet? That's the beauty of this site. Anyway, it's only my 2 cents.

I have certainly bought on the basis of advice and reviews, sans audition, I am not proud of it. However, that was cables and a power amp, not speakers. The advice given seems excellent. I STRONGLY support buying 2nd hand, you can view it as an unlimited home audition and sell on at minimal loss. I would also advocate one of the big shows, CES if you can stand Las Vegas, or Rocky Mountain, for some mountain air. I am sure most if not all your choices will be there. Again the caveat that you don't listen in a hotel room at home.
Buying speakers is such a personal choice I would NEVER buy one based only on reviews. For instance, many people praise how good sounding Martin Logan or Magneplanar speakers are. I have heard both and I didn´t like the sound at all (electrostatic speakers aren´t my juice) and even between dinamic speakers, some one would apreciate the sound of X speaker and some one could hate it. Don´t waste your money.
I agree with everyone else on hearing before buying, but I have bought without hearing and I was 1 for 2. Out of the speakers you listed I have heard the Aerials and Paradigms (side by side) and the Paradigms I perferred the Aerials at lower levels. The Paradigms had much more output without strain, but considering you're in a townhouse you probably don't need high SPLs.
Triller - What did you end up doing?
To all of you who took the time to input, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL AND HEARTFELT COMMENTS. After reading all your suggestions and searching out every review and mention of the speakers in question, I also talked to the dealer fm whom I purchased my Focus 20/20s. Since I have a Steridian bass integration unit, he suggested I use it to lower the bass attenuation to the point of a reasonable compromise between audible satisfaction and a level that won't alienate my neighbors. In other words, at LEAST try the Focus in my new environment. Also, I've had contractors filling in a wide opening to the dining area right at the left rear corner of my listening room so now instead of a gaping opening (and no corner wall), I have a corner and smaller portal to the kitchen. This will help balance the L-R output of the Focus with the rear firing woofer. Also, while the speakers I was considering were all shorter in height or narrower in width - there were very deep; the Focus on the other hand, are surprising shallow front-to-back so it seemed like I was trading off one dimension for another, and honestly, taller works better than depth in my room. (Shows that for full range you have to have volume - one way or the other.)

My first use of the forum was a very positive experience and I will certainly post regular updates to keep you all apprised of what I finally decide. I am truly astounded the Focus 20/20s are as good as they are for the money and I like them over a lot I've heard at much higher $. But of all my speakers, the Betas on tubes were the closest I've gottent to sonic nervana. I sold them because of concerns for long-term support. And felt remorse before the truck was out of the driveway. Then came the Salons followed by the Genesis 201. Both awesome, incredible transducers, but they just didn't have the same magic as the Beta's - truly one of the high end's legenday classics!

Good listening, Triller
You might want to hear full range speaker like fostex or lowther - made a believer out of me.

Also they can be DIY since no X-over to deal with - if you are handy with tools and like building, you can get so much more quality for the same money !

There are many DIY speaker sights on the web - just google it.
I have bought all these speakers without hearing them. Dunlavy IV,IVa,V. Piega p-10,C-10 ltd. I now have Von Schweikert VR-7SE. They were all a gradual upgrade and all had great sound although different. If you have a good dealer who will take them back you won't have a problem.