I can't speak for the Nola Contender, but I own the Venere 2.5 and I am very happy with my choice.
Very lively and clean. The reviewers although positive, don't do these speakers justice.
They are beautiful to look at also.
Both are outstanding speaker makers. Nola's house sound is crystal clear with a see through midrange. Sonus Fabers tend to be more lush with a dash of sugar. I'm unfamiliar with the Prima Luna sound so I'd say if it's on the classic tube side, go with Nola for good balance. If Prima Luna is more forthright or solid state-like, I'd go with Sonus Faber. But you can't go wrong either way.
It would be helpful to know what speakers you've heard so we have a relative reference for making recommendations. That said, I've heard several Nola models and had the Venere 2.5s in my system on demo, which I'd assume have a similar sonic signature to the 3.0s. If warm is your preference and 70s recordings are in heavy rotation I'd skew toward the Nolas. The Veneres are very good, but they are not the warm, forgiving speaker that is the more traditional SF sound. They still have very good tonality to be sure, but the treble has ventured into more incisive and detailed territory that may not work best for your recordings and preferences. To my mind SF is targeting a different customer segment with the Venere line and has designed a voiced them toward that end. Looking elsewhere in the SF line may be a better idea for your needs. Nolas IME are one of those speakers that can provide very good imaging while also being a little warmish and somewhat forgiving of non-audiophile approved recordings. I didn't check the specs of your amp, but whatever way you go you'll obviously want to make sure your amp can power the speakers properly. Hope this helps and best of luck.
Thanks everyone. Currently have Totem Sttaf which I really like but need to go slightly larger speaker in bigger room. They work well in the smaller room with the current amp. I like the Totem character but feel the need to go different route if I am buying a new speaker. Totem Forest seems to fit the bill for my budget and needs but not real excited about opening the wallet for them when I can go a different route and get something totally new. I am leaning toward the Nola Contender. (besides the Nola and Sonus Faber are more sensitive and likely better fit for the amp as well)
Another option that images very well, is tube friendly, and probably slots somewhere between Nola and Totem in terms of treble detail is the Silverline Prelude Plus. Not that it should mean much to you, but given your preferences (which seem similar to mine BTW) and equipment the one I'd be looking for over all these in this price range would be the Joseph Audio RM25XL, although they don't come up for sale too often. Again, best of luck in your search.
Hi Zipline - Can’t help you at all on the Contender vs Venere but can tell you I recently purchased a pair of Silverline Prelude Plus speakers. I’ve been very pleased with them. I think they are crazy good for the price. I had/have a pair of Totem Forests that I’d been listening to since 2007. Was looking for a change...specifically, soft dome tweeter and higher efficiency to see if sonics with tube equipment might improve. The Preludes have been a very happy addition. They work very well with the EL34 mono blocks I run and also sound great with the Hegel H200 integrated I have. The Forests seem a better match for a Taranis Class D amp used with tube pre-amp (terrific bass). I do fully intend to go back to the Forests at some point - always nice to be able to change things up...but have been listening to the Preludes non-stop since getting them. Bass with the Preludes is VERY surprisingly deep, full and good. I might get a good subwoofer (or 2...SVS?) at some point but I think a sub is only significant for maybe 25% or less of what I listen to. I do agree with those that say a sub contributes more to good sound than just deeper bass, however. I dragged down an old AR HC6 HT sub and have been listening to that positioned mid way between the Silverlines. It’s turned down quite low on level but does improve things on some recordings. I don’t consider a sub essential for the Preludes but if you have one or were thinking to get one, it won’t hurt. Again, sound from the Preludes alone is very satisfying. The Preludes are phenomenal imagers and have a more forgiving top end than the Forests...I would not call them rolled off or especially "warm" sounding, however. They are nicely detailed. More so than the Forests, I think. Playing around with source, amplification (tube brand), cabling and positioning should let you "tune" the sound to what works for you. No regrets getting the Preludes (purchased without auditioning and a no return policy...always a gamble and not recommended). I also very much love the Forests. Good luck in your search.
I have a pair of Joseph Audio RM25XL Mark 2's (mentioned by soix above). They do everything very well, they retailed at 4500. Running them with a Hegel 300. Also ran them with Bel Canto Class D, they sounded very good. The reviews online are very accurate, top notch imaging, soundstage, depth and warm clarity. Hard to find used, but Holm Audio in Illinois might have a used pair and they deal on price and will ship.
Good luck on your search.
Fwiw, I don't own the floorstanders in the line but own the Minuet. Very enjoyable speakers, in my opinion. I traded for them and listen to them more often and longer than any other speakers I've owned.
I'm going to up size to the Prelude or Prelude Plus next - but I'm not in a hurry. It's amazing to me how much I enjoy these little speakers. You may really like the Silverlines...