Speaker Placement - Vaulted Ceilings

My listening room is my front room. It is rectangular and about 13'x28'. It has vaulted ceilings that start out 7'3" on one end and go to about 20' high almost to the end of the room. It decends on the other side of the wall in case anyone is wondering. I have a pair of B&W 803N's. The rest of my system is a Kora Hermes 24/192 dac, CJ 17LS preamp, Theta Casanova (connected through CJ), Cinenova SS amp and a Theta Carmen transport.

I tried to use the rule of 1/3's or the Cardas approach to setup initially. My big screen is in the middle of the "rectangle" about 2' from the wall so I put the speakers about 2 1/2' out from the t.v. with about 8' between them and about 2 1/2' from the walls on each side. Keep in mind that at the point where the speakers are the ceiling is about 8 1/2' now. I toe'd them in about 2" so they aim just to each side of my head. I played with the toe in quite a bit. My listening position was about 9' away from the speakers. This leaves about 15' of empty space behind my listening position and plenty of ceiling!

I have, no matter where I place them, a great image. Vocals are dead center. My problem is that the soundstage is in my opinion small. It seems very very eliptical. When I move closer to the speakers it sounds better to me. But when I moved the speakers out to about 8' and where the ceiling is about 11' and about 6' from my listening position the soundstage bloomed considerably. I now have an isosceles triange (where the speakers are wider apart between them then I am from them) instead of my previous equilateral. The image is still dead on, but the music seems so much more personal...so live. Up close I can almost feel their breath or the vibration of the strings. It is much louder overall, probably because I am sitting closer, but the details seem much more "present."

Anyway, I know it's a matter of taste..i.e. I like it so that's what matters, but I am also concerned with hearing what is "right" musically. Does anyone have any experience with the 803N's in nearfield? Is this setup really nearfield? Does anyone have any experience with cathedral or vaulted ceilings? Has anyone experienced this kind of soundstage "bloom" with nearfield?
I'm of two minds re your setup. I too must listen in the nearfield (7' piano in the front), and thoroughly enjoy the huge stage it provides when there's 8 feet behind the speakers. OTOH I tried 803N in this setup, and experienced severe incoherence between the drivers. A British reviewer who mostly liked the 803N also commented that they need to be listened to at least 12' away to obtain coherence.
In my setup the mid/tweeter balance was a mess from 6-8 feet away. Fatiguing as hell. But since pair-matching at B&W was reasonably good for this pair, the imaging was great.
The "liveness" you sense up close is probably due to a peak in the tweeter's response on axis, coorresponding with a crossover-related anomoly...some kind of lobing, I suspect.
I felt it was a bit tricky with the 803N especially, as the prodigious bass response requires positioning care to get decent bass response...and then you have to get the mid/treble to coalesce. Not the easiest speaker to optimize.
Sorry I can't help with the huge vault issue. Don't they sometimes swallow mid-upper bass? OTOH this may be a good thing with the 803N. Good luck.
Subaruguru, thanks for the response. I am relatively new to this....but can you describe what the "mess" sounded like? Or explain what "severe incoherence" is? With my pair of 803N's I can hear, for example, Patricia Barber's voice exactly in the middle. On some music, for example her live album...I hear the bongo's in the left channel and a bit of the drum in each channel with most of it in the center. It appears that whatever is supposed to be in the "middle" is. And, at least to my ears what is supposed to be in one specific channel or another is also. I don't get a sense that the individual drivers or tweeters are making sounds independantly. When I move further away from the speakers all I get is a sense that I am farther away from the soundstage...but when I am sitting about 5 to 6 feet away....I get the sensation that I am leaning against the stage looking up at the musicians. I also get the sensation that the sounds are coming from right where they would be on stage...for example if the bongo's cue in on the left of the stage I can definately tell that the left channel is making all or most of the "noise." It's kinda like plucking bubbles from the air. Isn't this what we want? Thanks for any and all responses.
Yes, indeed, the 803N image well. But that just means that B&W does a good job matching a PAIR of speakers to each other, probably through their normal manufacturing controls re reference levels and component values, etc.
It also means that your room is working pretty well, too.
But what I'm referring to are more TIMBRAL and TIMIMG changes that occur as you get too close to the speaker, Perhaps what you sense as "getting closer to the stage" is due to the tweeter getting hotter on axis above the presence region as a lobing null between it and the midrange opens up as you get closer. (Just guessing.)
Getting the twin woofers to not comb weirdly with the midrange is awfully tough when the crossover is way up at 400Hz (803N), too. I could definitely "hear" the lower mids
wandering vertically when sitting close.
Lastly the sense of perfect timing and hence a profound "musicality" only occured in my room when I listened to the 803N from an adjacent room! When sitting too close, the 803N made a bunch of sounds...NOT music!
But your results may very well vary. Have fun.