Try the new B&W diamond series 802D or 801D. Should be within your price limit. Also I would give Audio Physics a try (Avanti or Caldera).
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I would encourage you to include the Wilson Benesch ACT (used) on your short list. I have owned many different speakers over the years and this is one of the best all rounders. You will not get the lowest octave but what is there is extremelly balanced, the speakers stage and disappear with the best of them. They are extremelly coherent and their tonality is excellent. They sound very good at low volume and can play loud. They are an easy load for most amplifiers (not typical low power set or OTL freindly).
Oh...they are also one of the nicest looking and easiest to integrate into a domestic environment.
They fall short of the best I have heard in transparency and dynamics but are still very good in these areas.
In short, given that virtually all speakers represent some forms of compromise the WB's are one of the best sets of compromises I have found.
The Sophias are truly amazing. It takes time to find the right interconnects and powercords to make them sound their best - sweet high, beautiful mid-range blooms and strong Bass – UNBELIEVABLE!. It took me over a year playing with different powercords. It is amazing how one powercord can make or break the system. I have tried different RCAs and XLRs but found the CAST interconnects performing the best for my all Krell Gears. So I don't think anyone can judge a system performance by quick demo in store or at friend's house. I truly believe you can achieve your satisfaction through carefully selecting and trying various combinations. One thing I found is that what works best on one system is not necessarily works for another system. So hope you keep this in mind!
Cdj123 - The one thing that I would keep in mind is that the frequency response things that you heard are more likely a product of the room's acoustics than the speaker. Making a freq. response speaker judgement, and then moving the speakers to a different room could completely change things. Just something to keep in mind. When spending this kind of $$$, an in-home audition really is a must. Audition all you can, then when you have a list of 3 or so finalists, go for the in-home audition. You'd be better off buying a 9k speaker that you know sounds good in your room than a 20k speaker that you aren't sure if it works in your room.
Thanks everyone for your advice. Do you think Anthem Statement electronics are a good match to the speakers mentioned above, since they will be part of a theater setup? Also, I am still wondering if anyone has listened to the Genesis 6.1s since they appear to be designed to lesson room interaction? Goatwuss – I appreciate your advice on in-home auditions, but I am not sure if a dealer would loan me a $15k pair of speakers (especially with my goal of buying used at half the price). Any suggestions?
An ethical suggestion is to only ask a dealer for an in-home demo if you're serious about buying that piece from that store.
Personally, I try to research the potential immediate resale on something used should I not like it. A little tougher once you start climbing into the $5,000-$10,000 range, but if it's a popular piece (like the Sophia or Salon) you can play around a little bit on your dime and not feel guilty.