Speaker recommendation $10-20K (with some requirements!)

Recent lessons of the developing audiophile:

  • Don’t buy speakers without demonstration

  • Speaker break in is real...but will not fundamentally change DNA

  • Really appreciate the wisdom of this forum!

I recently changed my old B&W Matrix 803 Series 2 with new Dynaudio Countour 60i’s. A number of you helped on my: How important is speaker break-in? post - thanks! The Dyn’s are not fully broken in, but I think I can see where this is going: They have great soundstage, detail, and bass. In comparison, the B&Ws sound smaller, thinner, slightly less detailed overall, and do not throw big bass. (The B&W’s are supplemented nicely with a quality subwoofer, but that still sounds a little more like component parts stitched together, than the way the Dyn’s deliver an integrated output).  

The problem? The Dyn’s are hard in the mids and highs, and my (aging) ears are very sensitive to that. I have some tinnitus that I usually don’t notice...unless a hard or ringing sound sets it off, and these speakers are doing it big time. Immediately fatiguing (unless the recording is just somebody plucking at a bass guitar). The B&Ws are pretty sweet in the mid-range and most recordings don’t trip my hard/edgy line. So, I WILL go demo before buying this time, but I am hoping this group can help narrow the search a bit, and I am letting budget drift up if that helps get it done. Here are constraints and goals, and equipment:

*Absolutely must be smooth and silky - not hard, edgy, ringing, brittle, etc. - in the mids and highs. Ironically, I tend to listen mostly to heavier music, but I care mostly about sweet and detailed delivery of delicate sounds, like vocals and piano. For say, heavy metal, I don’t care if the system reproduces it perfectly, only that it tilts away from ragged, ringing tones as much as possible.

*After that, I want a big, authoritative sound with meaningful bass, detail - everything one would want in a speaker, but compromises can be made.  

*Room Treatments. Room is medium size, does not have treatments, and it is what it is. It is not a dedicated audio room, so I can’t start throwing stuff up on the walls (WAF). (The room does have the benefit of being wood floor applied directly to concrete (with a rug), so at least the floor doesn’t resonate. And it has 2 layers of sheetrock in places). I will live with my room compromises, but the sound coming out the speakers themselves does matter and I want to focus on that.

*Prefer tower style for aesthetics and fit, but open to boxy (e.g. Harbeth) if that’s where I need to go.  

* Equipment: All digital inputs to ARC DAC 8 -> ARC Ref5se preamp -> Bryston 7BSST2 monoblocks (600W). I get that the whole system matters, and that Brystons are supposed to be a little hard. But this problem really started with the new speakers, so that is where I am focusing. If you really think different amps or something are going to turn the Dynaudio’s silky sweet in the mids and high, please say that with some conviction and support.

As always, really appreciate the greater knowledge of this community!

I am looking to replace my current speakers.  I also suffer from tinnitus.  So far, I have been very impressed by the Focal Scala. They had a great natural high and mid range (not harsh or over detailed)  Weakness (maybe not the correct word) was in the bass.  They had sufficient bass but the character of the bass was somehow different than I was used to.  Very wide sound stage.  I also auditioned Sonos Faber.  Very nice but too polite if your listening taste runs to rock.  You might want to give the Focal’s an audition at some point as they will check a lot of your boxes.
See if you can listen to the PMC IB2SE passive speakers, otherwise you could try the Acoustic Zen Crescendo MkII speakers.
Like with Headphones, the plethora of incredible stuff out there at ANY price point let alone in the 10-20k range, is staggering. How to choose.  (first world problems).  I recently visited my local shop (Speaker Shop, Buffalo NY) intent on listening to and planning to likely buy the Golden Ear 1R's  Fine speaker, but just didn't speak to me.  Then they set up Sonus Faber Olympica Nova series.  First the smallest ones (Nova ii at 10k)  Stunning,  Stopped me in my tracks.  Open, huge landscape, lots of detail, smooth  Switched to my own smaller amps (40/80 at 8 and 4 ohm)  Sounded damn close to the 5k Macintosh Integrated they had set up  Brought them home.  Same experience.  NOT set up sensitive,  Put em roughly where I thought they should be, a little toe in  Fabulous.  Moved them a little wider.  Fabulous.  Even my wife and adult daughter admitted (knowing the risk of justifying keeping them) they were lovely to behold and sounded even better. Two rooms away my daughter later shouted to me - "those are great, i can tell the difference from here"  And very kind with the WAF factor, they are simply gorgeous to look at. But no doubt a great many other fabulous speakers out there.  In this price range, I wouldn't ignore an audition of the Sabrina's, they are pretty amazing  But I've ordered the Sonus Faber's in one size up (two woofers instead of one) at about 13k. 
I love the audio vector speakers but I do find them a little bit edgy and bright not much though. I finally settled on the monitor audio Platinum 200s ll, the speakers are very neutral natural and warm sounding and that AMT tweeter is very sweet, didn't find them to have the little problem that the audio vector did. Check them out