Headphones maybe a good option.
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Merlins for one,try the VSM. They have a fairly small footprint for a floor strander. The customised Esotar tweeter in them is clean and accurate. IMHO that tweeter competes for world best and provides really great top and lower treble detail at low volumes. As for WAF they come in a wide variety colors the same basic idea as Wilson, they use automotive paint.
If you like a warm, which is really just some extra mid bass and bass emphasis. Given the requisite clean, super detailed, and never blurry muffed sound, try to listen to FJ from Germany. I liked their OM model which again is a small floor stander. They are only available in wood veneers or all wood I beliieve. They are very reasonably priced for the quality.
I admit up front that I haven't heard the Focal Electra in it's latest version. I do own an ealiear version of the Electra series. They are very different than the modernistic wedge shaped iteration of the Focal Electra. The crisp almost analytic accuracy of JM is well known and your familiarity of the Wilson's OEM JM/Fopcal drivers should give you some insight regarding a great balance between them and the warmth of a Luxman at low volume. If the speaker is too large -assuming you haven't had your audio resources pre-allocated by your wife to redo the kitchen and baths- move up to the Mini Utopias.
The French Quarter is a pretty loud place . You can keep the electronics and you will need really big speakers, truth be told, to avoid being overcome by the cacophony. Get even bigger and louder speakers.
You can enter the center of your head soundstage don't trouble with anything more than exellent headphones.Add to this a source and the best Headphone amp money can buy. I havea Singlepower Extreme which sounds great but I am certain others will spank it. Play as loud as you want.
And as they say Have Fun!!
Thiel CS1.6 or 2.4 for WAF. They sound better with the grills on which impresses my wife. Nice furniture grade finish.
I don't particularly like speakers that are overly warm but prefer accuracy, clarity, wide soundstaging and musical dynamicsThe Thiels do all that.
Disclaimer: I have a pair of Thiels currently listed for sale.
I wish I could keep the big speakers but going from 4500 sq ft to 1200 sq feet just makes it impossible. I also agree with my wife that the place we bought has such a unique elegant look that large speakers would take away from the ambience. The Focal mini utopia be's sound interesting as I have to get away from the floor standers. When I really need realistic volume I can just walk a block to Preservation Hall and take it all in. Silver lining in every cloud!
Have you considered Dynaudio C1's with a sub? That combo works well in near field listening. I moved my C1's around and you will loose some depth being that close to the wall but the soundstage and detail won't suffer. They are rear ported. As far as WAF -- I personally do not care for the looks of Dyn's confidence series but the sound is what I care about. Every female thats seen my C1's (so far) say they are very good looking.
If I had a choice amongst them smallish Merlins would be choice.Then not sure how far off wall but why not the Silverline 17.5?Great monitor.And you could go to low power any time be it tube or T power.Bang for buck the Tiny dancers seem to have a lock $$$ if you like sound and most do.Sound Anchors for any monitor.Nothing beats heavy iron.And
P.S. Micro Utopias are small Mini's aren't so.if you could swing that size then add Harbeth or Totem Mani 2's (if you want huge bass)with totally different sound but damn good monitors both.Wish I could say I have heard them at low level (acid test for listening).I know a pair of Audio Physic Sparks did much better in that regard than larger models so think how much you can crank out or not and how much late night listening.Wish more reviewers included that important (to some of us) aspect.Lastly to get funky read Mark and Daniels write ups at 6moons
I had quad 63s, maggies, meadowlark, soliloquy and the speakers I enjoyed the most were anthony gallo adiva's that I got dirt cheap when Good Guys went under. I would check into some of Gallos new stuff. The Adiva TIs work beautifully on wall and in terms of fitting nicely into a condo and wife factor probably can't be beat.
Oh yeah.Also check out Dali Helicon 300's.Best monitor they make and one tiere down in there line but a guy named Lapierre has an OFFICE system that uses a $12K Mac two chassis pre and 275 power amp plus whole slew of expensive Oval Analysis cables and he thought they matched.Dali's make a hell of a speaker.
ATC, I recently moved to the SCM 12 and have them close to the wall with no ill-effect (sealed design). I am so happy with them I doubt I will ever go to another brand (well never say never...). In short: accuracy, full bodied, dynamic (micro and macro) sound much larger then size implies. Good at any sound level. I hate speakers that sound constipated and for years I considered trying ATC's but hesitated when looking at their specs (low sensitivity, bass rated to the mid 60 HZ) but man was I off. There is no lack of bass, there is no hint of where the tweeter takes over, can't even get them to compress. I have them on a 100 Watt McCormack DNA 0.5 but rarely need to raise the volume to enjoy their dynamic capabilities.
I have tried over 15 brands of speakers including Vienna Acoustic Mahlers (they get silver), many Dynaudio's (they get bronze), legacy audio, paradigm, Meadowlark, mirage, monitor audio, totem,etc. I still give my ATC's the gold!
I do not know your budget, or really the "unique elegant look" you need to deal with, or just what kind of size constraints you are dealing with, but if I were in your shoes, I would definitely take a look at the new "mini Magnepans" which got rave-y reviews at CES this year (try googling 'CES 2009 Magnepan mini'). The combination of their speaker units and the matching subwoofer (which looks little like a speaker) may be pretty small (almost too small for audiophile expectations) but enough people whose opinions I have come to respect are impressed that I would be seek out a chance to audition them.
If you like the Wilson sound the above mention of Duettes might work. I have heard the Harbeths 7ES3 with your new amp and it was a great match. Also the Merlin TMS and Focal Be 1007 would be great choices in a smaller room. I have moved from a large floor standing speaker to smaller speakers and you will miss the full range of the puppy 7's but a good monitor speaker will simply disappear in the room. Remember you can go down the street any time and listen to great live music. You have the best of both worlds.
I'd go with something that has inherent design sacrifices in those aspects that you no longer require (high SPL's, big dynamics, large room bass) in exchange for excellence in the qualities you can still fully enjoy: detail, transparency, microdynamics, musicality.. .. for example, high-sensitivity, full range single drivers in a unique and beautiful cabinet, such as Cain & Cain.
Also Audionote.. unfortunately a traditional & large box monitor that must be mounted a stand doesn't pass WAF in my house.