the forests are fine without claws
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I had your same problem. I own Hawks and have used them with and without claws - with a fair amount of lead shot in the base, there is little difference.
However, the chrome claws were going to be a showstopper for me too but my dealer called Totem and they actually have a nice looking black claw that you can buy - I bought them and use them and they look great versus the ugly chrome ones. Give them a call.
Lots of really good speakers in this price range other than Totems and Thiels too. I auditioned a bunch and had a hard time deciding. Totem, Thiel, Vandy, Revel, Von Schweikert, Dali, Proac, Vienna, PMC, etc. The best of the bunch I think by far are the Gallo Reference - alas they did not come close to meeting the wife acceptance factor. I settled for the Hawks and have since added a pair of inconspicuous subs to fill out the sound.
>> The best of the bunch I think by far are the Gallo Reference - alas they did not come close to meeting the wife acceptance factor. <<
That's an easy problem to solve, get you a new wife! They're all over the place. If you shop real hard, you can find a nice used one in great shape. Shipping is cheap enough, but maintenance costs tend to add up over time.
On a serious note, my wife found our Gallo Ref 3s to be perfectly acceptable with the grills on. I have a black ball pair with cherry bases and they look terrific. The black balls tend to disappear inside the grills. Unless you shine a flashlight directly into 'em you can't even see the speakers inside.
And, as many have noted over the past two years, these speakers sound TERRIFIC - best audio purchase I ever made.
Thanks for the input everyone.
First, I'll keep my wife. (I did appreciate the humor.)
What we're looking for are speakers with high-end furniture grade appearance. Then there is the size factor.
They need to be small towers. No taller than around 36"; width around 10", and depth can go to around 12". I've been using a set of Monitor Audio Silver 5i's that are approximately 31x7x7. We've (she) has gotten very used to this size and doesn't want something that is visually intrusive. (Maybe I should have bought a really large pair back in 2000; it would have easier to have gone smaller.)
Good looking, small, furniture quality towers - same set of requirements I had then. Guessing your price range from the original post and not knowing your other equipment, musical tastes or room dimensions, you might want to look at the Quad 22L, Von Schweikert VR2, Totem Hawk or Forest, Spendor S5e, S6e, S8e, Dali Ikon or Helicon 400, Revel F12, Triangle Celius, Sonus Faber Domus series, Salk HT2 and maybe something from Vienna Acoustics, JM Reynaud or Opera. Many great all-rounders in this list and many that won't break the bank. I have heard most of these and liked the Dali Helicon 400 a lot - a little pricier than some of the others though. The VR2 is a great dynamic speaker with very good bass extension. The Hawks and Forests have beautiful imaging and are stellar on non-hardrock pieces. The Spendors are a little laid back but tremendously musical, enjoyable speakers as are the Quads. Have not heard the Revels but they are getting excellent reviews. This category is packed with great speakers - have fun!
The room is around 16'x16' with 9' ceilings.
Right now I use a NAD c540 cd player and an Outlaw 1050 reciever. I also have a DefTech powered sub, a Pioneer DVD player, a Klipsch center channel, and some garbage rear speakers. My plans are to sometime soon use the 1050 as a pre-pro after I purchase a relatively nice 2 channel amp.
I listen almost exclusively to jazz. We occasionally watch a DVD and that's the reason for the so-so home theater setup. I think if I get a 2 channel amp, I can use it to power my main speakers and use the 1050 for center and surrounds when I watch a movie.