For the goals you have listed you can't do much better than Thiels CS2.3. Esp. at this price point. I have the speakers in my system and like them very much. Be sure to audition before you buy, some complain that they are bright and/or too revealing.
Totem Forest or Totem Mani2 for the monitors.
There is no tighter bass than in Totems for this range.
Plinius\Thiel combo sounds realy musical and worm as well.
I would seriously consider Neat Elite's. Great speaker, would mate very nicely with your existing setup. Definitely has lots of resolution, is quick, clean articulate and uncolored. Awesome high frequency extension, and tight, tuneful bass.
Check out the Soliloquy 5.3s,6.2s and 6.3s.Make sure they have at least 500 hrs on them before doing any serious listening.You can get these well below retail and save some money.These speakers are accurate without being bright.And you want be a slave to just high current amps.Anyone of these can be powered by just about any amp in the world.My listening room is 12x12x8,and I use 6.3s.Good luck with your search.
Try to find a VMPS dealer in your area. The new ribbons they are useing along with the great bass they are known for makes them worth a listen. They have a wide line of speakers in all sizes and price range.
The Totem Mani-2 is impressive--and very hard to drive. If your Plinius puts out over 100WPC it just might manage them but you'd be happier with more wattage still.
I like Totem speakers but I love my Meadowlark Shearwater Hot Rods. I'm sure you would too after your 803's. They're in your range at $1700 or so for a used pair and they just might fit in your room.
Martin Logans. A little tough to set up right but if you don't want to listen to "speakers" but music then give these a shot.
Here on Audiogon, there is a listing for A pair of Roman Audio Senators. These are awesome speakers. I own a pair of these, along with a pair of Roman Audio Centurions. Very awesome speakers, check them out.
Thiel cs1.6 are GREAT and BEAUTIFUL!
Martin Logan Aeons are GREAT!
I'v been through the exact same search that your on now for the past 2 months and these were the best two I had the chance to audition. Soliloquy was another name that a lot of people kept recommending to me, but I could not find a dealer to go listen.
You can get both of these new and not worry about waranty issues and all that crap.
i've been a Thiel owner for a long time and have just kept upgrading (i'm currently using the Thiel 6s which i got used through Audiogon for $3800...more then you say you want to spend but if you see a pair in this range you might want to consider them. They are outstanding in all respects. The Thiel 3.6s can also be found used in the $1800-$2000 range and are also a fine speaker though not in the same league as the 6s.
Like you, i listen to a lot of different stuff. Lots of Jazz (instrumental and vocals), Classical, Rock and a lot of avante garde wierd stuff. For jazz and classical i think the Thiels are outstanding. If you're into a booming bass the Thiels aren't for you. However, i have not listened to another speaker that captures the sound of acoustic bass like the Thiels(i'm sure they're out there, don't get me wrong, just i haven't heard them). You not only hear the bass sound but hear clearly that this is a plucked intrument (i.e., you hear and feel the hand slapping on that sucker). Vocals are also crystal clear and distinct. I also find the Thiels to have excellent soundstaging and imaging. Finally, for those of us that don't have sound rooms or aren't able to place the speakers in the ideal situation i find the Thiels to be forgiving of real life listening situations. I've got mine virtually up against a wall and unequal distances from side walls. They still sound great (not as great as they could sound of course but hey what are you gonna do...guess that depends on how much disposable income you've got).
anyway, if you've got the opportunity to demo a pair i think its definitely worth a listen.
I am not sure if this is an option for you, but I have been building speakers for a few years, and in the $3000 price range I can heartily recommend a kit designed by the renowned Seigfried Linkwitz, codesigner of the 24db/oct LR crossover.
It is a dipole design using state of the art dynamic drivers, actively crossed and triamplified. It would easily cost $15-20,000 if produced commercially. http://www.linkwitzlab.com/orion_challenge.htm
BTW He also designed stereophiles 1999 speaker of the year, the Beethoven. The Orion might be the best out there period, especially for what you listen to.
I think I'd avoid the ML's for this application. Although they do meet your requirements, I doubt they'll be very good in your room: it's too small, especially if you have to put office furniture in it. MLs just about have to be 3-4 feet from the back wall, and in a 11x12 space that's a major disruption. (I am a big ML fan and my main system is fully ML, it's not that I don't like them.)
My first thought was a used set of Magnepan 3.6Rs, but they will have a lof of the same problems as MLs, and they are even bigger.
Go check out the gold series from Monitor Audio. Fantastic! Good luck
After home auditioning the ML Aeons, Thiel 1.6's and the Thiel 2.3's I went with the Thiel 2.3's
They are absolutly beautiful! They re-create music like no other speaker in this price range or even much higher. The build quality is perfect and the drivers are top notch.
I also auditioned speakers from Sonus Faber (Pianos), Vienna, B&W, Energy Veritas, Boston (NOT!!!), JM Labs, Monitor Audio Gold, and a few others.
Oh yeah.. Thiel also has the best customer service and a 10 year warranty. THE END RESULT IS QUALITY PRODUCT.
Why not Nautilus 804's. I wouldn't go bigger in your 11 x 12 room.
Aerial Acoustics are nice without quite the resolution of Nautilus series.
Harbeths are another choice but hard to find. Again, not quite as detailed as Nautilus from what I've read.
An easy recommendation, Magnepan 3.6s. Though you will have to dig a little deeper in your pocket or, purchase them used. The Maggies produce a big dynamic soundstage that exudes reality in abundance. The bass is tight and defined, and the mid-treble range is delicate and delineated. Its a superb speaker but don't squeeze it because it likes its room.
If you must have a box then look at the Thiels. The 2 series should be in your price range. I have owned three sets of Thiels over the years and all were excellent. They are extremely coherent and resolving. The soundstage may not be as large and voluptuous as the Magnepans however; instrument placement and detail seem to be on par. The Thiel coherence is every bit as good.
Maggies,Maggies,Maggies...there is no substitute.....
Maggies, and although the 3.6's are definately the way to go if you can afford them, you might find the 1.6's are all you need/want.
Made a decison, yet? Sure is an amazing diversity of opinion out there, eh? I hope you can listen to some of the main suggestions, like Thiel and Maggie. They are VERY different, and your ears will tell you what you like. For a smallish room and your taste for (I gather) acoustic music, my first thought would be the DeVore Gibbon 8, a smallish 2-way floorstanding speaker that was awarded speaker of the year by 6moons.com. I've heard it, and believe it is a special speaker. It's very room-friendly and appropriate for your space. A speaker to really enjoy! Check devorefidelity.com, and give them a call!