buy yourself a used pair of piega p-10s' and i guarantee you will not be unhappy. they are better then all the speakers you mentioned except the one i have not heard,that being the vmps.i have a friend who sold his dunlavy sc-vs' after talking with me about them and has now upgraded to the new c-10 ltds.if you haven't heard the piega line you need to before you make a decision.your room is about as big as mine ( actually my ceilings are 6' higher) and the piegas'fill them easily. good luck
While it is certainly not my personal business, and I mean no disrespect to you, I must urge you to use caution about the volume levels you are apparently using when listening. There is substantial research evidence that shows you will sustain permanent hearing loss, often at an early age, by listening at high sound pressure levels. (As an interesting aside, Richard Vandersteen includes a note with all his speakers regarding the problem of premature hearing loss due to exposure to high sound pressure levels.)
As a rule of thumb, if you listen to music at an average level (not occasional peaks) of 90 db or higher, you are almost certainly contributing to your own early hearing loss. Unlike other organs that return to normal over time, damaged hearing does NOT get better -- only worse.
That said, and given your music tastes, your AR mono amps ought to have more than enough juice to drive a wide variety of speakers. If speaker efficiency is an issue due to the size of your room, you might consider one of the top speaker models from Coincident Technology (http://www.coincidentspeaker.com/), Montana (http://www.montanaloudspeakers.com/montana/) or VMPS (http://www.vmpsaudio.com/index.htm), or perhaps one of the better horn-based systems such as the Avantgarde Uno or Duo (http://www.avantgarde-usa.com/home.html).
You may also want to consider getting one or two good subwoofers to handle the deep bass. Getting a lot of slam and tight bass is a tall order for just the main speakers, even from moderately expensive ones (say, up to $10K).
One of the best overall speakers at around the $10k level is the Vandersteen Model 5, which has an excellent built-in proprietary subwoofer with its own 400 watt amp. The Model 5 is a superbly musical speaker, but is not ideally suited to sustained listening at very high volume levels. You may find, however, that having really outstanding speakers that reproduce sound accurately makes it more enjoyable to listen at lower volume levels.
I don't mean for any of this to sound "preachy", but it concerns me when I hear music lovers/audiophiles talking about listening at volume levels that almost certainly will cause incremental hearing damage. Men usually begin to experience hearing loss much sooner than women because we expose ourselves to loud sounds much more frequently, but we are also at risk simply due to biology (too complicated to go into here, but it has to do with the effects of male hormones).
Before you make a final decision on which speakers to buy, you should try to audition them in your own home, and make a point to crank the sound down to see which speakers perform best for you. If you really love music, then you may want to ensure that you will be continue to hear it as you get older.
I must be missing the point here completely. Sounds as if you are desiring live performance levels but with high end imaging, depth and they just do not exist together. When was the last time you attended a 'Tower of Power' concert and got imaging and tight sound staging.
I would build this system entirely differently with say Hafler DH-500s and Klipsch Horns which would play loudly enough to break glass.....literally! Tubes are not meant for this style of playback. Good luck sir.
Jeff: Out of the speakers that you listed, the Dunlavy's will be the closest to your NHT's but with a lot more "finesse" and "refinement" with much greater potential for volume. Other than that, the newer Legacy Focus 20/20 and the Montana's will probably do what you want them to do. VMPS speakers have a history of being kinda "fat & bloated" on the bottom end ( this may have changed ) and i don't think that the Revel's would be great R&R speakers. As to the JM Lab's, they definitely have a "house sound" and it would be up to you as to whether or not you liked them.
Scott: Personally, i think that Richard Vandersteen tries to discourage high listening levels for several reasons. First of all, his speakers will not play "THUNDEROUSLY LOUD". They simply aren't designed for it and you can tell when you try driving them hard. Second, he won't have as many warranty claims if his speakers are treated "gently". This keeps his customers happy as the speakers appear to be more reliable AND maintains a high profit margin since the cost of replacing drivers under warranty is reduced. Third, his cautions about high spl's make him come across as a concerned manufacturer and someone that wants you to be able to enjoy your equipment and his speakers for a long time to come.
When i talked to Richard and asked him about the SPL capabilities and power handling of his speakers, primarily the 5 but all of them in general, he would not quote figures. When i pressed him for greater detail with some specific conditions / figures, he about blew up and asked if i was "insane". The reason that i brought it up is that i was concerned with over-driving the woofer amp in the Vandy 5's. Given the conditions that i mentioned, he told me that i would. At least he's honest. If you've ever talked to Richard, you would know he's "too" honest at times : )
Other than that, i like Vandy's. They just aren't made to raise the roof and Richard will tell you that himself. Sean
You might want to give the Infinity Prelude MTS series
a listen. I have the baby brothers and they rock very
well. I do have them teamed up with a sub (the model i
have doesnt have sub built in) and I have been very impressed with them. I also listen to mostly heavy rock... Tool.. Alice n chains.. ect @ VERY LOUD levels. I am a guitar player for 25 years and its just in my blood.
Im also pretty aware of what the music should sound like
and the Infinity's do a very good job re-creating.
I know (for what its worth) the MTS series did earn a class A in Stereophile. They also have active subs built in... i believe 750w? Im not sure. They also have the bass tweak rambass system. I can guarantee you they will be very revealing and do well under extreme conditions...
Sdcampbell... Can you speak up i cant hear you??? Just
kidding i appreciate your concern.
could you explain exactly what happens when you say your 300 amplifiers shut down? can not believe they are running out of power. Do you have dedicated circuits for the amplifier s
My last listening room was similar in size to yours (but not 18' high), I also like very loud rock music occasionally. The speakers that worked for me in this situation are the B&W Nautilus 801s, bi-amped with a pair of Pioneer Elite M91s. Believe you me, this system will play as loud as your hearing can stand and remain crystal clear. Furthermore, bass slam is frightening. In my opinion, the Nautilus 801s are among the very best in overall sound quality of any loudspeaker system I have heard. Although you can't in my opinion beat QUAD ESL 63s for pure musicality of sound (useless on loud rock unfortunately).
Incidentally; if you want to experience truly loud and dynamic sound, try the 43 second The Garage Door track on the HiFi News HFN003 test disc. I have had people run for the door when playing this loud. If you want to experience truly loud rock music with amazing bass slam, try Frankie Goes To Hollywood two tribes or the soundtrack from the movie Run Lola Run.
I too share the same point of view as Sdcampbell. Playing music very loud for protracted periods of time will definitely damage your hearing, there are plenty of aging rock musicians around to prove the point.
What I mean when I say, "the amps shut down," is that at loud listening levels, especially on crescendos, one or the other of the mono amps' protection circuit will click in and shut the amp down - a protection light goes off (actually, the right-hand green pilot light goes dim), the amp mutes the output, and I have to shut the power off, wait 5-10 seconds, and restart so that the protection circuit resets.
Personally, I think it's 'cause the amp uses only (8) 6550s to produce 300 watts, and since they have to be driven to max levels to get that kind of output wattage, the protection circuit is aggressive and overly sensitive. IMHO.
Thanks - Jeff
There are some ESP Concert Grands for sale on the 'gon right now for around $4600. These have 3 Scanspeak 8" woofers, 2 5" DynAudio midranges, and 2 1" Seas tweeters (one fires out of phase) per side. Sensitivity is advertised at 96 dB, they are rated to 500 watts, and response is 25 - 20 +- 3.
I own a pair and they will fill a large room and play very loud, no problem. The speakers are no longer in production, but the price is right (they cost $15,000 new).
Rock is all I play on them. Those are not mine for sale.
I just think they fit the bill.
When is the last time that you've changed or at least checked your output tubes ? Can you give us an example of what types of bands / music send your amps into "thermal shock" ?
For the record, with the sensitivity levels that you are talking about with those speakers and that size room, you'll need about four times the amount of power that you have to actually start "rocking". Either that or you'll have to find some speakers that are at least 95 dB's efficient and 8 ohms.
In my opinion and experience, you can't pressurize a room that size with 300 wpc running full range unless you have VERY efficient speakers, a LOT of drivers or preferably both.
Given the info that you just added to this thread, i'd start looking at the Montana's and the Legacy's. I don't know if you'll like the sound or imaging of either of these, but they should give you the volume that you're looking for. The Dunlavy's just aren't efficient enough for what you want to do and the amount of power that you have. Picking up some LARGE, very HIGH powered subs might also help out quite a bit, as it would relieve a LOT of strain and current draw on the tubes. Sean
PS... Let me know when you've given up hope, picked up four Klipsch Heresy's and are ready to start modifying them : )
Shahinian Diapason. These loudspeakers can play at extremely loud levels. They also have extremely deep powerful bass. They are capable of reproducing a rock drum solo at live levels!!!!! My neighbor thought I had a drum set in my house!! Designed to reproduce the full range of an orchestra. They do vocals exceptionally well also.
Unfortunately, I suspect your great amps wouldn't have quite the power needed to really make these sing. If changing amps is out of the question, the Vandy 5's could be just your ticket.
If volume alone were the highest criteria, I'd go with the Klipsch corner horns.
Disclaimer: I have two pair of the Shahinians. One pair is for sale on this site. I'm in the Chicago area. Your welcome to come for a listen if you like.
You seem to like the 3.3's. I think you should try high powered solid state, like Classe Omega or Levinson 33.
Why not try some professional sound reinforcement speakers? A couple of big "scoop" type bass bins, a big horn loaded midrange, and a compression horn tweeter, just like they use on stage, with tri-amping, might be just what you'd like.
They won't cost $30k, and might just have exactly the sound you are looking for, because that is what you used to hear at those older rock shows on stage.
It won't have anything to do with accuracy, but it sounds to me that accuracy is not what you are after. You want hard rock with ear bleeding SPL. This is exactly what professional sound reinforcement systems are designed to do.
I am not joking about this, even though it may seem like it. This type of equipment is what the bands you are listening to, rely on for their on-stage performances. If you are listening to "electronically amplified" instruments and music, and not acoustic material, this is what the stuff normally comes out of, during a performance.
I think that part of your problem, is that you are trying to use "delicate" audio equipment, that is designed for accurately reproducing acoustic and vocals naturally, to create a "rock show" environment. This is not the right application for that. Just get what they use a "rock shows" and you'll have what you are looking for.
A pair of Klipschorns and almost any 100 watt/ch. amp should provide the kind of "realistic" volume levels you're looking for, and a lot cheaper than most of the alternatives proposed...
build a oris horn speaker or buy a avantgarde ,horns sound best with rock owned a few of the speakers you listed all sound slow compared to a modern horn stear clear of the old horn designs they are no where near as good as a tactrix horn ,With my dual oris system all my old rock and punk music sounds great could never listen to them on my nonhorn systems .good luck with your quest .
God I must be getting old(I'm 26) to say this. I two have a large urge to go after what you are trying to get but have so far resisted, and it's getting easier. It seems the older I get, each day just a tich, max spl's are no longer a concern. This is good for two reasons, one being the silly little hearing lose issue(this is serious I guess :)) and the other is that most of the high end equipment I have used does not seem to play very loud. Note I said the equipment I have used.
I think to play very loudly, >105db's on average, one needs very good, very expensive gear. The amps need to be huge(>600wpc?) and the speakers need to be very expensive, and be selected carefully, which you are trying to do.
I can't give you and hard answers only that for me, max spl's are slowly becoming a non issue. I seems that on average, great gear seems to only be great in lower(>105db's) volume ranges.
Other than that, listen to Sean, I think he is still chasing the dragon. Probably more like whopping it's ass.
Twl: I don't know if you remember my original suggestion in Jeff's first thread, but it was not that far off from what you stated here. I took it up a notch in terms of refinement over commercial models and chose models that are very easily modified into what is a "good" speaker.
Rlwainwright: I've used big horns of similar design to the Klipschorn's and 100 wpc is not near enough power to do LOUD, especially in that sized room. Besides that, the folded horn design that Klipsch uses can not deliver the "immediacy" on vocals that a direct radiatior delivers.
Marty: Thanks for the compliments. I think that Jeff is simply proving some points that i've tried to bring up before. That is, high level rock is difficult to do right if you try to take the "audiophile approved" method. He has very high quality high powered ( 300 wpc monoblocks ) audiophile grade ( ARC ) amps, big brand name speakers ( Genesis ) and still can't "jam" like he wants to. As such, sometimes you just have to put aside the pre-concieved notions and go with what will get the job done. Been there, done that and learned a bit along the way.
Having said that, the easiest way to get their is a multi driver array that is quite efficient and a LOT of power. The less efficient the speakers are and the bigger the room, the more power that you'll need. Simple, isn't it ??? : ) Sean
Get two pair of Vmps ST/RSE and stack the left one on top of the right upside down so the ribbons are in line with each other, bolt them to each other with a bracket in the rear. Get two powerhouse SS amps for the bass and run the mids off of your ARC amps. I know this is crazy sounding but it will more than work for you. You will have 8 ft. tall 440lb. speakers but they will fit right into a room that size and it will make for some great conversation.
Sean: All good points in response to my post. I should have said in my post that the Vandersteen speakers will not play at very high volume levels in large part because they use a first-order crossover, and most speakers that have first-order crossovers aren't well suited to sustained high volumes. However, all of the Vandy speakers, whether or not they meet Jeff J's personal listening requirements, will perform very well at volume levels that are sane for home sound reproduction.
As a follow-up, I got a nice note from JeffJ in response to my post, and we talked about issues of hearing loss, etc. I'd like to thank him publicly for taking the time to contact me and clarify some points about his listening needs.
Scott: Speakers with first order crossovers "should" typically be more efficient than a speaker using a more complex and parts heavy crossover. If one uses very high quality drivers with good power handling characteristics, i see no reason why a speaker using first order crossovers shouldn't be able to play loud.
I think it boils down to how the speaker is designed. There are compromises involved when aiming for low volume detail or high spl capability. Many designers try to shoot for something in middle and i think that Richard basically aimed for lower to middle range spl reproduction. As such, he sacrificed high power output and concentrated on the listening ranges where most "normal" people end up doing 80% of their listening. This does not make it a bad product, only one that is limited in the grander scheme of things.
Like anything else, you have to buy what will work for you AND get something that you like. Speakers are VERY personal, probably more-so than any other component in a system. As such, one must pick and choose what models best fits their needs while taking into account the various trade-offs built into each design. Sean
The Legacy Focus 20/20 play louder and cleaner at high volumes than the VMPS RM 40 - I know - I own both.
I'm using the 3.3's myself, often for long periods. Bi-amping does more for these speakers than any I have owned. I can't express the difference in words. SPL is one issue relative to power output. But along with power, comes CONTROL of the drivers. If you have the duckies, I would suggest another pair of the monoblocks you are using. Not only will you get a bit more volume, but the amps won't be exhausted at the extreme end of the spectrum, which seems to be the arena where you lack satisfaction.
The NHT's (especially the 3.3's) are very unforgiving of non-neutral or excessively bright electronics and recordings. I used a BAT VK3i for a short time, teamed with Sunfire 300's (Biamped) with glorious results. I've since moved on to home theater. I'm still using the 3.3's biamped with Anthem MCA II's, and SS preamp/ processor. I've been unable to capture that same "magic", but the system still sounds great.
The 3.3's are VERY power-hungry. You know that. But the more juice you feed them, the more "open" they sound. It sounds like you've got them set up right. Moving them slightly away from the wall will improve the soundstage slightly, but you will lose some of the impact of your lower octaves.
The next upgrade I would suggest would be cheaper, and far more noticable: Replace the subs with a servo-controlled beast or 2. I've got a PAIR of Mirage BPS-400's, and find that they definitely add a little more slam to the flat sound of the 3.3's. I haven't used, or been exposed to, the SUB TWO, but the fact that you're crossing over at 60Hz leads me to believe that the 3.3's aren't being used to their full potential. An extra pair of amps would help you push the envelope. Let those 3.3's sing at full range, with the power where you need it. The subs can supplement the 3.3's when necessary. I find that my subs are unnecessary for music, but add that extra kick for home theater use.
I think you should try "hifiho's" recommendation about "bi-amping" the 3.3's before you sell them! You will definitley get more dynamic ease, slam, and impact with a dedited amp driving the bottom woofer!(bottom posts). However, my STRONG recommendation is to forget the tubes on the bottom, and use an excellent solid state amp to handle the bass. Parasound HCA3500 used makes the most sense of anything you could chose, as it has superb powerful bass at 350w/ch, and has VOLUME CONTROLS ON THE BACK for proper balancing with your tube amps! I doubt anyone in the hifi industry would argue with that recommendation for "bi-amp" puposes!
At least before you go dumping those excellent rock speakers(as passive speakers go), you should try it. Also, yes, doing powered subs set up well, and crossing over your 3.3's for "small" on your pre/pro(if you have one) would be something to try(still trying biamping however on the speakers).
Dunlavy's will be fast and accruate souding for rock, and might be a future try. But you should still give the 3.3's more "tinkering" before you let go...my suggestion.
Another strong candidate choice is what is offered in active speakers by ATC. But you can also get high end sound from "powered woofer speakers" like Infinity Prelude MTS's or NHT VT3's(rated as better than 3.3's in every respect(?)).
Thanks to ALL for the great posts and valuable input.
Regarding the suggestion to biamp, believe me, I've tried. That's why I modified the speakers (a factory production tech did it for me) to add a switch that can bypass the low-end crossover, if I wish.
I've tried both ways - using a pair of SS monoblocks and an outboard LP xover, and also just running an additional pair of amps straight in to the woofers/LP xover in the speakers. The problem was that I could not get the bass and mids/highs to sound seamless or full - I used a pair of 280 watt SS monoblocks. Weirdly enough, the speakers sounded MUCH better running full-range biwired. I mean, NO comparison. Using the second pair of SS amps, the bass was just awful. Present, yes, but either loose, sloppy and all over the place, or barely present. No matter WHERE the gain was set.
As a last resort, I have a third ARC M300mkII monoblock, and I've had an ad on here trying to buy a fourth one so I can try biamping with four of the identical monoblocks. No luck, so far, though....
Thanks - Jeff
Most hi-end speakers...be it SPendor,Sonus Faber,Vandersteen,etc..do not perform well at moderately high listening levels...let alone "loud" levels...Im talking SPLs just above conversation level...they chuff,distort,and basically resort to one-note bass sounds...I am by no means a "balls to the walls" rocker...but I am not 60 yrs old either...every now and then I like to turn it up for "visceral" purposes...and for low distortion at hi-volume...Maggies are tough to beat...especially with a sub...they do "rock" alot better than what people give them credit for (1.6s anyways)
audition and be done with it. High-end speakers are not built to play rock w/out "blowing". The Focus 20/20 will not let you down. Other than that it's the Legacy Sig 3 or b+W naut 801. Good luck
Actually I liked Sogood51"s idea a lot;using two pair of Super Tower RSE..That idea sounds quite nice and also you have a really big room and using two pair of speakers is a good idea IMHO.
One of the reasons(if not the biggest)that 1st order crossovers do not play "As loud" as some other designs is that this design requires the tweeter to dip fairly low in frequency and the midrange to operate at the top of its range and towards the bottom of its range and the woofer operates up in range. Look at the crossover specs for Vandersteen. The woofer operates up to 600hz, midrange from 600-5000hz and the tweeter from 5000-30,000Hz(3A Sig) Most "High slope" manufactures cross over the woofer at 100hz.
Hi Ljgj..You say you own both the Legacy Focus and VMPS RM40..Which one do you like more?let"s say if I had 6000 $ which of them would you suggest??
How about SIX amps? I'm talking about ATC active 100's. Play 117dB continuous. Very low distortion and listener fatigue.
Also Active 150's ($18,700), 200's ($39,750),and 300's ($45,300) will cause permanent hearing damage at an even faster rate than the active 100's. They have the amps built in. Used in studio's as monitors and made to take a lot of abuse.
The Focus is in the main system and the 40's in my second. The 20/20 is just very smooth and balanced with a more natural bass response. The 40 is a bit on the brighter side but not to the extreme and is not as well made from a box point of view.
You might contact Peter at Montana Loudspeakers firstname.lastname@example.org I understand he has a new speaker in the 10K price range called the EPX. Rumor has it they play very loud, have awesome low bass down to 22hz and have a forgiving top end that will most likely match your amps and room.
Klipsch k-horn I have listened to many klipcsh over the years and if you want it loud and dynamic take a listen to them. Remember horns tend to reveal flaws (junk in junk out). The bass in the k-horn is very good 33hz int their folded horn design one problem they tend to be focused and to open the soundstage tweaks are a must.I have a pair of Lascalas right now w/ all the tweaks.
One thing I picked up on your post is all the speakers you mentioned are great, some excellent. Priced from 5to9k on the used market but the k-horn 2500.00 on the used market.
Wilson Watt/Puppy 7's should do the trick. Incredible dynamics and fast too. They have very good transparency, but not the best. Should be able hit 115-120 decibels with these, 94db efficiency. Soundstage and focus is subpar for this price point, but not terrible.
Try this link for serious spl's.
Once again, i repeat that there is NO reason that a speaker using a first order crossover can't play loud. It is all up to the design. Just because the market is not flooded with such designs does not mean it isn't possible.
The easiest way to get around this would be to use a 4 or 5 way design with drivers that are wideband, relatively efficient and handle good power to start off with. Using this approach, you can still maintain time coherency ( if taking into account baffle step ) and minimize the strain put on any one driver. Since most designers using a first order crossover try to keep things simple, going to a four or five way design is kind of the opposite of what they are trying to achieve. Hence the lack of popularity of such an approach.
Keep in mind that in a first order crossover, more signal is fed into the actual drivers of the speaker due to the reduced amount of loss and "increased leakage" associated with such a shallow slope. Signal is "eaten up" by the increased amount of components necessary to build higher order crossover networks and the associated "notch filters", impedance compensation, etc.. that typically go with such designs. As such, first orders should play louder with less input and continue to do so until the components within the speaker system reach a point of "saturation" or "dynamic compression". It is only once the speaker has reached the point of saturation that the higher order crossover will be able to play louder, but it will take more power to do so. I am speaking of an apples to apples situation i.e. a speaker using identical drivers with both a simple and a "fancy" crossover network.
If you doubt this, try using speakers that have high level "fancy" crossovers with a GOB of parts in them. Speakers such as Dynaudio's, Nestorovic's, etc... need as much power as you can feed them for the very reasons mentioned above. The losses in the crossover are infinitely high compared to speakers like the Coincident's, which don't use anything but the bare minimum in crossover parts to get the job done.
I would love to hear contrasting points of view on this subject if one thinks that i am wrong. Sean
The main issue with NHTs is their "slanted baffle/focused geometry design"...the soundstage never gets outside the speakers...decent imaging between the speakers...but they sound closed in(test disc: Floyds DSOTM) ...I am not implying they are bad speakers...but since u are upgrading...see if u can a/b them against something u are interested in(or do a home trial)...and then draw your own conclusions....I tend to gravitate towards speakers that are open and deep...just my .02...
Sean...Dynaudio uses simple first order slopes in their designs...since they make everything in-house...they are able to intergrate drivers with minimal x-overs...but more to the point...they do play loud...and they do it clean...the common issue with most first order designs is that the drivers overlap...hence designers such as Pat M from Meadowlark being a strong proponet of listening at a distance of 6 ft or more...in short...they would be a poor choice for near field...they require room to separate individual driver frequencies...
Phasecorrect: You are right about the Dynaudio's and their crossover slopes. I was thinking about them being "parts heavy" and confused the crossover rates. Their crossovers are not "simple" as they use notch filters, impedance compensation, etc... It is all that "extra crap" that sucks up power and the reason why you need a small generator to drive them to high levels.
As far as your preference for "open and deep" soundstages, there isn't a speaker made ( that i'm aware of or have heard ) that can touch a well set-up pair of Ohm F's in this regard. No crossovers, no multiple drivers and no "box" to get in the way of their 360* presentation. That is one of the major reasons that i love them so much. Sean
For vintage speakers(and for that matter new)...Ohm has a loyal following...and for good reason...they are about as boxless as one can get...you would be surprised at how many Hi-End employees have or have had Ohm speakers in their current or past systems...they are very affordable in relation to what is out there...like any older designs...they do require some "babysitting" and maintenance...which is a slight turn off for myself(I am lazy)...but if you can find them used...and get them up to speed...they have the ability to sound very good...I think they look pretty cool myself...does Ohm service these older models? I have heard of parts being an issue...
This is an easy one. If your looking for loud, I'm talking loud, clean and detailed rock speakers, get the older Klipsch (the real one's). Klisph horn's, LaScalla's and Cornwall II's. They will knock you out with 100 watts, but if you want really smash you in the face dynamics, put them with something like the old Adcom GFA-565 mono amp's. Add a good 15" sub and you wont look back. Your ears will give out long before these speakers.
Mackie HR-824 active studio monitors.
KLIPSCH KPT-MCM GRAND.You want LOUD here it is.
And as an added bonus to PERMANENT HEARING DAMAGE
you will receive realignment of your internal organs. Give them a call 1 800 KLIPSCH.
I second the motion for the Legacy Focus 20/20. Jeff, before I purchased the Foci, I auditioned the NHT 3.3. I liked the Focus better, for primarily the reasons you seem disappointed in the 3.3's. The Focus could play louder, required less current, weren't as bright, and had better bass. They were better looking also. From what you are describing, I think the Focus would be what you are looking for. I also have some reservations about your amp. I would see how they partner with the Foci. If there is a problem, I would consider the Spectron Musician II. It will provide you with all the power you need (500 watts/ch) and not sound solid state(it's a Class D amp). Enjoy listening.
I reread your post and decided there are several issues that need to be addressed. From your equipment list it seems you have picked those on the darker side of neutral. I am surprised you are having problems with brightness. Have you treated your room? This can make a dramatic difference in the high frequency balance. What about power conditioning? Cleaning up the high frequency grunge can also help tho not as profound as treating the room. Check out Exact Power if you think this is a problem. Power cords also make a difference. I would recommend Shunyata cords( the original line, not the new Pacesetter line). Hope this helps. Enjoy listening.