Opinions on Paradigm vs. Axiom vs. NHT?

System is in room that already has slight brightness/reverberation issues (hardwood floors, though with a very absorptive couch and good area rug setup). Overriding criteria are that music and dialogue sound terrific. Not a big explosions freak but being a professional sound effects editor, I certainly appreciate good action scenes having nice dynamics, power, and punch. TV as yet unpurchased, receiver is a Denon 2802 (90W/ch). Receiver capable of 6.1 but I am currently not interested in installing the center surround.

My biggest dilemma is that I have been spoiled by having by Mackie HR824's as my stereo setup for three years. Absolutley unbeatable sound: custom biamping, passive radiator...mmmm. So every budget system I've heard has fallen short. For my budget, here are my three final speaker options:

1) Purchase a pair of Mackie HR624's as surrounds and make the system "quad." This is actually sonically viable, as the Mackies get down into the 35Hz range cleanly. We use them at work and haven't needed to buy a subwoofer yet. They're pretty awesome. However, the wife was looking forward to a more traditional 5.1 setup,which I kind of agree with, and I don't feel like running AC across the ceiling for the surrounds, so this is my least favorite option. The battle is really between the final three plans.

2) PARADIGM: Any of the System 3's or System 5. Keep in mind I'd like to appropriately match the Denon's power to the speaker's capacity, so more is not necessarily better.

3) AXIOM: A system consisting of M22's for the fronts, VP100/center, QS8/surrounds, EP125/sub. I might actually prefer to replace the EP125 with an EP175, in exchange for downgrading the QS8's to QS4's.

4) NHT: The System 15, available through Crutchfield and perhaps other places, which is SB2's/front, SB1's/surround, SC1/center, and the SW10/sub. The most noteworthy difference is this is the only system without dipole surrounds, which I'm not sure if I care a whole lot about or not in my weird little room.

NOTE: My friend has NHT's, albeit in a nicer setting and also much larger speakers. But I understand their characteristics somewhat. I can demo Paradigm locally and will do so before making this purchase, but haven't done so yet. Axiom, of course, is mail-order only and I don't know anyone who has them. Hence, your opinions, especially on the Axioms, will be tremendously important.
Quick addendum: on second look, a more appropriate Axiom system for me (power-wise) would probably be the M3/front, VP100/center, QS2/surround, and EP125/sub. Of course, this makes this system instantly more affordable than the other two, which is a consideration.
I've listened to the older NHTs @2 yrs ago when shopping for a new set up. I ended up going with Paradigm ref. all Around. Before buying Paradigm, I auditioned a lot of speakers, and for what I was looking for, the Paradigms worked great and have a real nice sound. They are very efficient and don't require a lot of power to drive. I bought the studio 100s and for a short time was using a Denon 3802. The Denon did a nice job but of course after going to a B&K 7250, they really livened up. Back to your question. A local dealer carried NHT but when NHT change their spekers around, this dealer didn't like them as much as the previous models. They dumped NHT and picked up Wharfdale instead. Im not sure if this helps but it ultimately comes down to what soud you like and are happy with. If your looking for a bookshelf set up for all around, you may want to look into some B&W 602s. They've been getting great reviews for thier sound and performance, even beating some floor standers. Good Luck, Chris
I'd also look at Acend Acoustics CBM-170. Read review in the $ensible Sound issue 92. I bought some as secondary system and they quickly replaced my Paradigm Mini-Monitor/Atoms set up in my main system. You will find many customer reviews comparing them favorable with NHT, Axiom, etc. CHT.com(cheaphometheater.com)picked the Ascend 170s as their favorite music first system. I'm running them with a Marantz SR7200 with no problem.

Totem's Dreamcatchers also get a lot of attention for the kind of setup you are looking for. I haven't heard them.
If you really want to pick from that 3 kinds, I will pick Paradigm. But with your receiver capability, I will go for PSB Image 6T. PSB has 92db, don't need big power and easy to drive, and you can get better price for quality. Most NHT, they need big power. But if you are a big home theater fans, NHT can be a right choice, because they go lower bass than other 2. Paradigm is a little warmer than NHT, but no strong bass like NHT.
I have similar room setup-hardwood floors, sofa, and area rug, with vaulted ceiling. I have had 5 NHT superzeroes with SW2p sub. These were the original (Ken Kantnor) design. Also had 4 NHT superones (original design) and added another 10" NHT sub (sub one). These were some very satisfying systems for movies and music. Very clear, concise sound. I purchased 4 Axiom M22ti and a VP 150 center channel about four and half months ago. Similar clear, concise sound, but the treble range is sweeter, smoother, and more extended. You can spend a lot more money and still not match the smooth, clear, dead-on accuracy of the midrange. Bass is accurate and tight down to about 55 Hz. These are higher sensitivity (93 rating), so they are easily driven. Along with my 2 NHT subs, this is quite a nice sytem for movies and any type of music you might like. The price/performance ratio with these will put a smile on your face. You owe it to yourself to audition these speakers. The money you save can be used to upgrade/tweak other parts of your system. Totally satisfied, J.L.
I got to check out the Paradigms locally. Un-friggin-believable. It was actually pretty funny, I settled on a system of Titans/front, CC270/Center, Atoms/Surr, and the PDR10/sub. I figured this would be slightly out of range and in need of downward revision, but I got a price on it anyways. With mounts, and after tax (8.25%), the salesman quoted me $1210. I about crapped my pants, because this system was really doing it for me, and now I find out it's in my range. If I go with Paradigm, I'll probably get a CC170 instead of a CC270, but upgrade the sub to PDR12.

Hopefully get to demo some NHT's this Saturday.
I think they all are "bright" sounding...if I had to choose...go {Paradigm
In your price range I hope your looking at used products?
I almost barfed when I saw the mention of crutchfield on this post, that should be an instant banning for life *LOL*

Warranties are only good for one thing, and since toilet paper is cheaper thats what I use.
In your case, I'd go with Axiom. They are truly outstanding
and best value for the money among the brands you mentioned.
Paradigm speakers don't sound very musical to me (especially on classical), but they do have great bass. I'm also a fan of NHT, but they do need a lot of power to sound good and your receiver might be a bit to bright to bring the nest out of them. Good luck!
I've heard Ratshack Speaker's and they were not to bad for the lowest economy system ,but in your range I was looking at Axiom's,but never hearing them and trusting on faith is pretty hard.
They do give you a 30day listening period which to me is a hassle if you do not know weather you really want to keep them or not.

I got lucky and found a former worker that worked for NEAR and have all NEAR modified speaker's which have metal driver's.

Good luck and consider the PSB 5t also.PSB's are easy to live with. Jean Marie Reynaud(JMR) are really good of what i under stand.Atleast the descriptions of there feedback seems to be to my taste.

Anything which disappear's in the sounstage and makes you forget that your listening to speaker's is what I favor.JMR's are suppose to do that for a good price.

Good luck!
If you are going to go for Paradigms the consider the Studio series. Yes it costs more but perhaps you could do it in stages. You won't regret it! As to brightness... throw an area rug on the floor between your listening chair and your speakers. Paradigms like a fair bit of power in spite of being a fairly efficient speaker. They will play on most receivers and sound decent but to truly shine they require a high current amp of around 150 to 250 watts depending on model. My Studio 100s now sound really amazing with the electronics upgraded from the original Onkyo receiver I was running them on. One other thing that made a huge difference in my system was a Virtual Dynamics Audition cable package which includes 3 power cords, 2 pair IC's, and a biwire pair of speaker cables. Value of the cable package is off the map. My guess is if you buy a good speaker up front for your music that you will begin to truly enjoy this hifi thing and start upgrading the rest of your system as you are able to. Good luck.