SPectron amps are used by Anthony Gallo when he demos his speakers. I think you have a perfect system for those speakers...
One option (barely) in your price range to think about:
Evolution A-V, a Gallo dealer in Agoura Hills, Ca (roughly 15 mi NW of Los Angeles) has a pair of mint (might be their demo) Gallo Ref 5s and they're asking $9K (50% off list price) . That's at the very high end of your stated range, but it's an unusual deal if you want the last word in Gallo's sound (and looks).
Marty, that's funny you should mention them. I have not heard or even seen the Ref 5's before. Actually, never read anything about them.
The person i am buying the 3.5's from told me on friday that he has a pair of Ref 5's for sale for $6,500.
Not knowing anything about the sound of that speaker, I had not given that a second thought. How does the Ref 5 perform relative to the 3.5's?
I haven't done an A/B in quite a while, but as I recall...
They're rather different animals...even though they're identifiably from the same family. The 5 is a very tall line source, so it's much more dramatic on the imaging front. IIRC, It's also much more dynamic sounding, no small trick since the 3.5 is pretty dynamic in it's own right. Obviously, the 5 is also visually rather striking next to the 3.5.
Tonally, OTOH, it barks up much the same tree as the 3.5. Bass extension and octave to octave balance felt similar. The character of the mid and treble was also of the same cloth. I'd suspect that most people who like the 3.5 will love the 5...tho that's just a guess.
If you have sufficient budget, and really like the 3.5 (albeit with some reservations), and you have the opportunity to audition the 5, I'd absolutely suggest that you do so.
Hope that helps.
Bear in mind that the 5LS (what you're calling the Ref 5) uses the same mids and tweeters as the older Ref 3/3.0/3.1 speakers, plus a bunch of 4" "woofers" pointing to the rear. I heard the 5LS speakers a couple years ago when I was using Ref 3s with the dedicated Mapleshade stands and was not sufficiently impressed to consider upgrading from mine, although the 5LS certainly LOOK impressive.
When a friend brought over a pair of Gallo Stradas, which use Gallo's latest generation mids and highs, I was able to compare them to my Ref 3s and the Stradas were CLEARLY superior, leading me to buy a pair plus a pair of TR-3 subwoofers. The Stradas and TR-3s use the same drivers as the $6K (MSRP) Gallo Ref 3.5. I seriously doubt that the 5LS would sound better than the 3.5, but I have not heard them side by side.
Re: Dopogue's observation
As I noted, my A/B was conducted several years back. At that time, the 5 was still a fairly new model. I don't know which version of the Ref 3.x I was comparing it with. So...take my observations with that grain of salt.
OTOH, a tall line source like the 5 will always sound different in some significant respects than a design like the 3.x. Whether that moves you or not (especially in light of the driver differences cited by Dopogue) is anybody's guess.