If I had to do this, I'd try a pair of Coincident Triumph Signatures. If you like how they sound you could add a pair of Eclipses later, plus you'd have the choice of going with tubes, should you feel like it.
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You have tons of options at the 1500 dollar price point. The first speaker that comes to mind is the Revel M20 In the used department, you can find them in your range almost always with stands. Huge increase in performance over the Paradigm studio 20. The paradigm is a great speaker. So much, that I've owned it three times. (Long story). But, I've also owned the revels and they are leaps and bounds better. Personally I would stick with monitors because of the value. You will get much better resolution at that price point with a monitor than with floor standers.
I've heard about Coincidents. They're good looking speakers and I was very impressed with the company line (except for their extra special power cord, which sounds like snake oil to me). They're on my list to hear, particularly with the recomendation.
S7horton, thanks for the tip on the Revels! There was a dealer less then 110 miles from me (Everything else is more than 200). I went down there today. Although they sounded good I wasn't too impressed at first. They were running off of a pioneer elite dvd player using the Anthem pre's DACs. However, when they threw on a Cal Audio CD player I really started to get excited.
They definately trounce the Paradigms, which I thought had great highs, but a hollow, thin lower range. They extend low enough to do pretty well for music without a sub, and wow did they sing with the Cal Audio CD player.
Although I'd want to do alot more listening to be sure, I'm currently very impressed with the Revels.
I'm going down to LA for E3 in a few weeks, and I plan to check out some PMC loudspeakers while I'm there (since I'm a Bryston guy). My local dealer had me listen to some Vandersteens, which were pretty good with a particularly sharp sound stage.
Thanks for the advice, and I welcome any further suggestions.