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Could you give us an idea of the budget?
Should you be able to splash out really generously, Kiso HB-1 may be the dwarf you're looking for:
Otherwise, second the SF Toys: exquisite little gems.
Hopeless, since the WAF is in play. Best to play to her weakness which would be a speaker in an exotic wood, say rosewood. Many ProAc's might fit the bill. RayRay8 also has a good point, that is a small sub. Take a look at the Yamaha YST series, they can be fit into a rack. The only problem with the YST is that it is a line source that should come from a receiver.
the passive audioengine p4s are a good choice at around $300--i wasn't blown away when i first heard 'em, but i've subsequently revised my first impression--they're quite dynamic, detailed and full-range for such a little box. they can mount right on the wall and are only 6" x 9" or so. audioengine offers a no-risk trial, so what the hell...
I faced a similar situation. Monitor speakers weren't going to work for my wife, no matter how attractive I thought they were. I went with the Gallo Micro TI with their MPS-150 sub. Is it super hi-end sound? No. But it is very good for TV and really good for music as long as you're not doing critical listening. I have the dedicated room for that.
If you go with the Gallo speakers and would like a pair of the stands let me know. My wife said no way to the speakers on those stands. Looked too much like "The War Of The Worlds."
These threads always spawn a deluge of different suggestions and speculations. It would be nice at this point if the OP would weigh in again to clarify a few things: Would the wife consider an esthetically pleasing speaker from Sonus Faber, copycat Usher, or Totem?
What does "bookshelf speakers are too big" mean? Some stand mount speakers are pretty small. Usher Be-718s (Tiny Dancers) are about 10x16". The Sumiko Toy monitor is about 7.5"x10.5" and a little over $1K/pair.
And how is she about adding a low profile sub? That would make a major difference in what sort of satellite speaker you could live with. Sumiko markets a Toy surround system mated to the REL T1 sub. Read the review here.
The Toy monitors plus REL sub come in around $2300 full list price.
LOL! I was just reading through the responses and they had me laughing. I actually have my dedicated listening room with my Dynaudio 1.3SE's, 2 Velodyne DD10's and a host of outboard gear and amps. So renegotiation isnt going to happen. I wouldnt say that I would be critical listening; but I dont need the BOSE crap that makes me cringe when listening to music. This setup will not be for TV; only music. She just doesnt want stands hanging around the room. She prefers them to be up in the corners of the room and wired in from the ceiling. Maybe... just MAYBE.... she will let them sit on a table if they are not too big. I am also able to put in a sub, it just needs to be hidden away.
So, should we concentrate on those that hang around in bars (sorry couldn't resist that one). Seriously, though, that would unavoidably mean a 2.1 satellite system such as the Cabasse Eole2, wouldn't it? Hopefully you'll find a place for the mandatory sub then, have a look here
Similar products can be had from KEF etc., I guess.
In that case, the Mirage omnidirectional satellites and a sub would work out well. Their Omnisat OS3-Sat can be positioned very close to the walls or corners, and yet projects a deep soundstage even there. It's deeper when away from the walls a bit, but actually sounds very good when hanging from the wall. Mirage makes a variety of good subs that mate well with it, including the very compact (9" cube) MM-8 powered sub with dual passive radiators. Martin-Logan subs mate very well with these Mirages as well.
If you want a little more oomph from the satellites, maybe your wife wood agree to the floorstanding version, the Omnisat OS3-FS. It's a floorstander, but the column is only 5.5" wide and 6.125" deep. Still works best with a sub for full range performance. This model can really fill a room.
On closeout is the satellite version of their discontinued OMD series, the OMD-5, available in figured maple, gloss black, or rosewood. These were originally $800/pair but Vann's is closing them out at $360/pair. I have the floorstanding version of this speaker and it's really excellent. The midrange and tweeter on this unit is competitive with much more expensive speakers. Transparent, fast, yet smooth and natural, fills a room with a very wide sweet spot devoid of hot spots and suckouts. With a good sub this system would really rock out and be nearly invisible at the same time.
You can get wall-mount brackets for those OS3-Sat satellites. These should work. I used a pair just like it for my 1st-gen. Mirage Omnisats.
Check out the Vienna Schoenberg (gloss black) on-wall speaker. I chose them for use in our HT room, primarily based on their appearance, but they sound very good. If your decor ruuns to the contemporary, these are likely to get a big "thumbs up" from your other half. The caveat: we use them with (hidden) subwoofers - HT and all that.
I too am thinking about down sizing. Currently have the ML Source and have been thinking about the Sonus Faber Toy. Two different animals, I know. A Condo with fairly small room with tricky corner placement. I also can't play too loud,hence the reasoning for the Sonus Faber monitors.
I'll be complementing it with a REL sub.