Upgrading from B&W 601 S2 to ???

Looking for some expert advice, particularly on speakers.

Complete (hope not too boring) details: Am upgrading aging analog system, a process that began in the last few months when the old B&O Beogram 3000 went pffft for the third and last time after 22 years.

I bought a Rega P1 and the improvement was so instant and evident that I have, as you might predict, started Jonesing for other upgrades.

My old NAD 55-watt receiver lost its tuner awhile back so I have since picked up an Arcam Alpha 8 tuner on ebay. Then, as an experiment, I got an Arcam Alpha 8R integrated amp. Total spent: About $300.

I'm still a bit ambivalent about the amp swap. The Arcam, 50 watts, does sound more refined overall and definitely favors vocalists but the NAD seems punchier at moderate volume - particularly with rock or faster-paced jazz - tho the notes coarsen around the edges if you push it too far (Not sure i understand words like imaging enough to use them).

I do like the Arcam sound, however, and am hunting an 8P or 9P with the goal of bi-amping (other bi-amp suggestions welcome) current 601s or future speakers.

I have owned B&W 601s for a decade and, for their size and cost, always thought them capable, balanced and versatile with rock-folk-bebop mix that makes up bulk of my listening. Bass is limited and thumpy if pushed but that is not a huge concern since wife and daughter groan when things are cranked too high anyway. To me, the one place the 601s do not do so well on is classical. Instruments in complex passages tend to blend into mush. Sounds OK but clearly weaker than in other genres. Classical gets less play (maybe 10 percent) in the house so I have lived with it.

The "listening room" has big limitations. It's actually family room and is probably bad for optimal sound - about 10 wide by 20 long, with mexican tile floors, wood beam ceiling and windows across back and one side wall. There are two entry openings on other side wall. Speakers are a few feet from back 10-foot wall, toed in slightly but room is too narrow to move them from sidewalls. From the sofa far at the other end, however, the music still manages to make me pretty happy.

As you can see from my gear, I am strictly amateur and of modest means but do appreciate quality sound ...

That brings me to present question: I am trying to figure out if a speakers in the $400 to $800 a pair range, second-hand or new, would be worth bang for the buck. Or should I just stick with nice 601s and put money elsewhere - say, a better CD player? The Sony SCD-CE595 I have is a bargain-level multidisc but a few reviews say is good for money and can be modified to be very good for about same cost as new speakers.

I have focused more on floor-standers, figuring I have decent monitors already and that choice would add some mid-range. I have discovered a wonderful local hifi story but in my price range the auditioning options are limited. In a couple of years, I may be able to afford better at his shop. In the interim, I am poking around here and ebay trying to decide on reviews and rep, which makes me awfully nervous.

I understand this is a personal choice but any help/advice appreciated. I guess I am worried most about over-reaching for speakers my modest amp or room cannot get the most of.

My list so far from reviews and discussions. I have not any of them. Some clearly push my price ceiling, which has some give at upper end if a speaker was truly worth it:

* Rega R3 or R5 (love the turntable's simplicity and sound so guy says speakers follow suit; also the sidewoofer seems suited to rear wall placement).

* Epos 303: (Analog guru who sold me Rega and reviewers gush over ELS3 monitor but I am preassuming my 601s would be equal to those or better, perhaps incorrectly).

* Spendor s-5e (On the pricey side but people seem to thing very highly of this brand).

Others of interest: assorted 600 or 700 series B&Ws if I can find for right price, Tannoy S-10, Acarian Alon II, Monitor Audio Silver S6.

I did heard a pair of Tannoy Mercury F4s, which are very affordable. I liked the sound, really pulled out the guitar and banjo, but tone was bright to me and vocals got lost a bit. To my ear, different but not better than 601s.

Welcome. I am one of the least seasoned or knowledgeable people you will find here, but your situation sounds similar to mine so, for what it is worth, I will share my experience.

I have built a system with the final word always being budget. When I started I had listening room about the same dimensions as yours that was also living room, dining room, and kitchen overflow. I decided on the B&W 602 S2 with a matching sub and never regretted it. I listen mostly to jazz and r&B, some acoustic rock. I found them clear, able to handle being pushed with some occasional hip-hop, and tending toward the warm side. I had stands to place them at the proper height.

I also run an Arcam amp, the AVR200 integrated. It has 80 wpc, and can be adjusted based on your speaker set up: small or large fronts, a sub or not, etc. I have found it to be more than adequate for my listening level (also constrained by wife and kids). The Arcams tend to have more power than they indicate and also to control it well enough that they push well into the upper volumes without getting distorted. You are right, they are not punchy, but I have found mine keeps up very well with Elvin Jones and Chucho Valdez.

My turntable is a Music Hall MMF 7. I now also have an Arcam FMJ23 cdp.

When my first kid came along I decided safest for all to get rid of the monitors on stands and went with Meadowlark Ospreys. They have taken a while to break in, and I had forgotten to reset my amp (large fronts, no sub) but now everything is coming together.

I love the sound of each components. I did not have time or budget to audition extensively, and I barely have the listening time to justify time auditioning. Everything except the AVR200 came used from here at the 'Gon. I trust it far more than eBay. I did lots of reading here and read lots of outside reviews. The people here were more helpful to me; I need layman's terms and trust listener-consumers more than professional reviewers.

From what you posted I would suggest a few things. For speakers, if you can find a pair of the 602S2's, GRAB THEM. Then get yourself a sub when opportunity and $ permit. You will generally get better sound for less money with a monitor-sub arrangement from what I have seen and heard. The floorstanders that are a step up in performance tend also to be a step up in price. That said, I have been so happy with the Meadowlarks that I think you could do well also by picking up a pair of Kestrel II's or Shearwaters. Spendors are supposed to be great for jazz. I looked and looked, but could not find what I wanted. My other serious option was the VonSchweikert VR2, but that would be more $$ than you're aiming for right now.

I'm not familiar with your cdp. What to do with that sort of depends on the ratio of your music, vinyl to CD. Keep in mind that what you start with -- TT, cdp, etc -- is the most you'll end up with. Your amp or speakers will not give you more than the source component. There is lots of talk here about giant killers; wade through it and there is some good info (including as I recall recommendations re: a Nintendo game system).

Also, it seems like you may be well suited for some room treatments. Find a southwest print rug to cover the tile floor, try some curtains on the windows, etc.

Finally, make sure that your guide is how much you enjoy your listening, not what someone else says about the hardware. That way, no matter how much you spend, you can be assured you'll get maximum return on your investment.

Good luck and good listening.
Can't believe no one jumped on this. There are tons of great speakers in that price range, especially if you look at the used market. Totem Arro, Meadowlark Kestrel, Paradigm Studios and more are all worth looking at.
Definitely look into the B&W 685. Familiar look to the 601 S2, but much improved performace and at $650, exactly in your price range. It also sounds good with classical.
For what it's worth I had the B&W 602 S2 and then moved to Totem Arros and found the Totems to be superior in almost every respect - imaging, soundstage, bass, etc. The only area where my old B&Ws had an advantage, from what I remember, was that they go louder. The 602 was not a bad speaker, but I ultimately found them to be too bass shy and with too much emphasis in the upper midrange/lower treble to keep me listening.
If you see a pair of B&W DM603-S3 2-1/2 way floorstanders preowned for about $600.00 to $700.00 ($1K new) and they've been used in a smoke free pet free environment and look great in the photos, go for them. That's what I have and I had upgraded from the DM601-S3s. For my room size, I needed to go up to the 603s. I've kept the DM601-S3s for a smaller room powered by an old NAD 40 watts x 2 receiver and they sound fantabulous!! If you can afford a pr of the new B&W 684 or 683 floorstanders, go for them first.

Yes it's been my experience that NAD amps and receivers produce great punch and slam but Rotel (which is what I have now) have come up to match them and maybe even exceed their sound. NAD AVRs to me are overpriced but I'm sure they sound great.