The latest Listener magazine reviews several speaker models for $3K retail, including some you wouldn't normally come across. Really good information. -Kirk
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Sounds like you both like vocals. I listen to a lot of rock, zydeco and country on my Harbeth Compact 7's. Check them out at Wintertreeaudio.com. Garnet, the proprietor of Wintertree is the North American distributor for Harbeth. Harbeth speakers are used as monitors by the BBC and there is no more accurate speaker at reproducing the human voice.
Out of all the B&w 802 series 3 matrix are the best hands down. But why buy those If you can pick up a pair of b&w N803s for 3,200 to 3,600 used. They smoke the matrix 802s. Also have you ever heard martin logans? They have a very open sound but the bass is not very coherent but with a sub they sound very good
It sounds to me like the kind of voicing you are looking for, particularly in the bass, might be best rendered by a transmission line speaker. Two lines come to mind - Meadowlark and Buggtussel. The Buggtussels are the more lively while the Meadowlarks are more forgiving and laid-back. The Buggtussels in particular have a very tight, solid bottom end.
The little Cliffhanger Bulldogs are also very good at the things you place a premium on. They are also voiced lively and have tight bass, and convey emotion particularly well.
The Heil Kithara will give you a wide range of listening positions since the radiation is virtually omnidirectional. They need to be far from room boundaries to soundstage well, and the bass isn't as solid as the others mentioned here, but they are a very relaxing speaker to listen to long-term.
The Gradient Evidence has excellent imaging due to its point-source concentric mid/tweet, and also has bass tuning optimized for good transient response rather than maximum extension. The Evidence is voiced slightly warm.
A different approach is represented by the InnerSound Isis, a hybrid electrostat which has a relatively narrow sweet spot with superb imaging and very tight (but not terribly deep) bass.
Disclaimer - I sell some of the speakers mentioned here.
Best of luck in your quest!
I had B&W Nautilus 804s (802s briefly too) and got rid of them when I discovered the Paradigm Reference Studio 100s. They run much cheaper than the Nautilus line but sound so much smoother and laid back - more musical and less shrill (especially the highs). The detail and soundstaging is at least as good as its more expenisve competition. I won't go back to B&Ws now although I used to swear by them. I am going to get some Studio 60s for the rear when I get to home theater. I had Vandersteen 2ce before B&W and they were very nice too although I find slightly less detailed/clear in general. But like I said, the Paradigm 100s are to die for and at $2000, I dont have to! I use(d) various McIntosh, Crown, McCormack, and Proceed amps (although I like my McIntoshes the best by a good margin :). Best is just to listen to them before paying. PS, I would love to get my hands on an MA6900!