Based on your liking the Beyer DTs, I suggest you start with Revel Performa3 or maybe Paradigm Prestige.
Also consider Elac Adante AS-61
Also consider Elac Adante AS-61
I listen to jazz, classical, rock, folk. Midrange is important to me and I have a listening room similar to yours in size.
I've posted recently in this forum asking for a comparison between Dynaudio Evoke 10's and the Salk Wow1s. I was really amazed by the Dynaudios. Still, the direct-to-consumer draw was powerful, so I'm trying out the Salks. His line gets huge plaudits. Other direct speaker makers that seem to grab attention include Buchardt, Fritz, Zu, Omega, Ascend.
One other speaker I've auditioned really impressed me -- the Totem Skys. There's a pair at Tmraudio for about $1200, down from $1900. Seems like a good deal. They allow a 14 day trial.
There are many out there. The key for me was to audition as much as possible and also consider direct-to-consumer reviews.
Buy these pre-owned.... Reference 3A MM de Capo BE Monitors
Consider Silverline Prelude Plus right at $2K new.
Great clarity and superb imaging. They are reasonably efficient and driven very well by a 20 wpc First Watt F7 amp. A pair of smallish SVS SB1000 subs is a nice addition to the Preludes (easily integrated).
Call Walter at Underwood HiFi to see what sort of delivered pricing might be available.
There’s a set of ProAc Studio 200’s here for $1,199. I know this speaker well and is easy to drive and sounds wonderful with either tubes or solid state. Be surprised you’d find yourself needing a sub. Just a wonderful sounding speaker that is seldom on the used market for a good reason. Beautiful midrange with great balance. The tweeter may not be as revealing as more modern units but it does nothing wrong or misses anything and one might prefer with most recordings. Great speaker for all genres of music especially jazz and female vocalist. Highly recommend for your budget and you will not have to mess with stands or need a sub.
I'd second the KEF R3. Great sound, and huge soundstage (my thing) plus decent bass. I'm not a sub type of guy, just listen to music and the KEF R's are on my current short list. Check A4L for fantastic refurb prices (and some new). I'm also a huge fan of Revel, but have heard some people saying they've had problems with placement and bass. YMMV.
The Elac Adante AS-61 (mentioned above) is enormous. Plus, Jones himself said it was designed for a sub. Even the floor stander (beyond enormous) drops right at 50Hz. . I had that one on my short-short list until I learned more. Some people are ecstatic about it. They can be had on sale as they're discontinued, but I'd proceed with caution on that one
Other brands to check based on your headphone choice:
All but the Dynaudio are available direct from the manufacturer, and I think a lot of bang for the buck. Plus, if you like hip hop, the Buchardt and Fritz, like the KEF's, dig deep. Buchardt has a pretty generous trial program (Denmark), YouTube is rife with rave reviews on these. Fritz and Ascend made in USA and can often be had for great prices. I've heard both of these (not the Buchardt) and give an enthusiastic thumbs up. One guy on YT actually used some Fritz to replace his very large Legacy floor standers, to give you an idea of their output.
There's really so many fantastic speakers these days (quite the opposite of 25 years ago) it's really hard to go wrong. Some of these boutique companies offer incredible value being direct to consumer.
Even the Polk LSiM 703 can be had for a fraction of their original asking price, sound amazing, have crazy fantastic build quality, and leaves lots of money for beer and pizza, or room treatments and a DAC! Good luck! 👍
The Polk LSiM series is a great option at their bargain pricing through Adorama.
The Usher N series is another good option with two floorstanders: the 6311 at $1590 and the 6361 at $1950.
Another option that doesn’t get a lot of publicity is the Cambridge AeroMax series. It’s not the last word in detail, but you get an extremely musical and fun to listen to speaker in an attractive cabinet. I imagine upgraded crossovers could elevate this speaker to a very nice option. You might also be able to get refurbished units at major discounts.
I was just shopping based on the same criteria as you have and have attached a summary of my impressions of the 11 speakers I auditioned below. I was going to pull the trigger on a used pair of previous-gen Monitor Audio Gold 200s, but they literally sold an hour after I left the audio store so I got a current pair of Monitor Audio Silver 300s. When listening at home, I can't imagine getting more detail than the Silver 300s provide though I do know that the Gold 200s have more detail. So FWIW, the Silver 300 sound very transparent and detailed for me. No regrets at all. They are transparent and detailed enough that I'm getting more critical about the quality of my source material. (i.e., Only Qobuz and Spotify for me, no Tidal, Amazon HiFi, or IDAGIO for me...impressions on those as well below. FWIW, better transparency can also come from Qobuz vs these other streaming services) The B&W 704 S2 had a similar level of detail but the Monitor Audio Silver 300s hit that knife-edge balance of speed and detail vs. smoothness better. The B&Ws erred on the side harshness for me.
(Listed in order of preference):
1. Monitor Audio Gold 200 (previous-gen): These were a real WOW. All of the dynamics and musicality of the Silver 300s but with an additional level of detail and insight into my music. These made easy-to-reproduce music sound even better and difficult-to-reproduce music sound good in a way that my lower ranked speakers did not (all of the speakers ranked lower than the Audio Physic Spark).
2. Monitor Audio Silver 300: Though not inexpensive, it seems that quite a few publications are right on the mark when they describe this speaker as a great value. These have the clarity and quickness in the mid-range and treble that my Linn Index speakers had with the addition of a tuneful and rhythmic low end. These are a LOT of fun to listen to and can really boogie when presented with interesting rhythms in music.
3 (tied): Paradigm Prestige 95F: The tonal quality of these speakers is really pleasant to listen to. They are less clear in the midrange than both of the Monitor Audio speakers and the B&W 704 S2 and a little slower in pace than those speakers as well. The pace issue seems like it can be somewhat resolved by quicker sounding amplification.
3 (tied): Bowers & Wilkins 704 S2: Has a similar level of clarity, quickness, detail and smoothness as the Silver 300s. (Close enough that I need to hear the Monitor Audio speakers again to figure out which is better) But is $1000 more expensive than the Silver 300s. The Silver 300s also have a smoother top end while not yielding any clarity or quickness to this speaker.
5. Audio Physic Spark: Very musical sounding, but less low end punch than the Silver 300s.6. Triangle Esprit Gaia EZ: These sounded fairly precise and had a nice fullness of tone, but was lacking in pace and timing compared to my higher ranked speakers.7. Totem Sky Tower: These sounded quick and provided good definition to the leading edge of notes, but I would have difficulty listening to these for an extended period due to their aggressiveness in the high end.
8. Dynaudio X34 Excite: The sound felt a little loose and not so well controlled, but worked great for rock and metal.
9. Goldenear Audio Triton 5: This would probably be a better choice for a home theater speaker as they had a "big" sound though not as articulate for reproducing music.
10. Rega RX-3: It played music okay, but lacked precision.
11. Bowers & Wilkins 603: These speakers were a bit of mess. Their sound seems to be the result in trying to design a speaker that can play lower in the low end and higher in the high end without sorting out the fundamentals of how to play music first. Kind of boring to listen to since it fails to reproduce so much of the music captured in recordings and fails to play rhythms well.
You may have considered this already, but other elements that can get you more clarity are your source components and sound quality of your amplifier. One other element that I’ve investigating is the quality of music streaming services. I’ve found that in terms of clarity and transparency, Qobuz sounds miles better than Tidal. FWIW, my own impressions were that even Spotify Premium sounds better than Tidal. These were my impressions of the major streaming services conducted using trial accounts:
Round 1, Spotify Premium vs Qobuz: I have Spotify Premium with a Family subscription. From a value standpoint, Spotify is my default choice that has the best search as well as working well for my family. From a critical listening perspective, Spotify actually is not bad at conveying detail, pace and presence from music. It sounds musical. Any shortcomings that it has are errors of omission rather than errors of commission. I can listen to Spotify especially in mobile settings and be engaged and immersed in the music. After listening for a longer period of time, Qobuz is clearly better at conveying detail, transparency/clarity, pace and presence, but Spotify doesn’t do anything noticeably wrong.
Round 2, Qobuz vs Tidal: So far Qobuz is clearly better than Tidal even listening through pretty cheap desktop passive speakers. Tidal sounds very two dimensional and flat in its sound quality but with some harshness in the high frequencies. I’ll listen a bit more to Tidal, but so far I’m not impressed at all. Spotify Premium even seems to sound better than Tidal.
Some additional thoughts about Tidal after listening on higher quality equipment. I think they have applied some equalization to boost the bass and treble. In the process, I think side effects of doing this is to take out some of the presence of voices and instruments and add an artificial quality to voices and instruments.. Qobuz sounds a LOT better. Spotify Premium also sounds better. To my ears at least. (Disclaimer: Your results may vary). I’m currently listening to a track that is a MQA file on Tidal vs a CD quality file on Qobuz. The CD quality file on Qobuz sounds a LOT fuller and more natural.
Not a big fan of hip hop, but decided to listen to something that is squarely in Tidal’s area of focus. I listened to ’The Box’ by Roddy Ricch which is a MQA file on Tidal and CD quality on Qobuz. Same results. The Qobuz file sounds fuller and has more presence. Almost sounds like two different recordings.
Round 3, Qobuz vs Amazon HD: Winner for me is Qobuz for the following reasons.
Amazon: Sounds more flat. Less drive than Qobuz so that some music sounds like it is plodding along. Sound is less full. Amazon HD doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong (as does Tidal), but also clearly not as good as Qobuz to my ears.
Qobuz: Much more presence than Amazon HD. More 3-dimensional. Better pace and drive. Better low-frequency response & definition. More range to conveying the emotion in music: (i.e., calmer for calmer music & more drive & pace for more upbeat music)
Round 4, Qobuz vs IDAGIO: Clear winner for me is Qobuz. My impressions are that Qobuz sounds fuller, has more low frequency weight and is able to convey a broader range of expression from greater calm to more drive. Qobuz also seems to have more realistic tonal quality for instruments especially for string instruments.I think this is due to greater clarity and definition from the music as reproduced by Qobuz. I thought that IDAGIO’s search design would be compelling to me for listening to classical music, but I’m finding that I actually like Qobuz’s search better than that on IDAGIO
My impressions of the musicality of the major HD streaming services. Your perceptions may vary.
2. Spotify Premium (320 kbps Ogg Vorbis which is not lossless)
4. Amazon HD
Summary: I’m finding Qobuz to sound both more realistic and more engaging on all types of music. Jazz, Rock, Classical, even Rap/hip-hop.
Sincere thanks to everyone for all the input and thanks to @jeffreylchen for the streaming services comparison and the speaker comparison....
I will definitely check out Qobuz!
I ended up going with a pair of ATC SCM7 v3 and could not be happier.
The ATC’s are not easy to find here in the states.
Had I not found the ATC’s ........I was prepared to go with either the Ascend Acoustics Sierra, Dynaudio Evoke or Monitor Audio Gold.
I should also ad that Ascend and ATC were great from a customer service standpoint as was Underwood Hi-Fi.
(I did not try to contact Monitor Audio or Dynaudio)