balance, weight, tone, cost
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I think all answers are right on;the only one left would be the WAF (wife acceptance factor) if that applies to your situation;makes spending the $$$ easier for me without the "the house needs this ...." comments;lastly let your ears decide and if possible in your own home setup so you can really evaluate them properly.
Take a look at 'horn' speakers, they play the loudest. As with all speakers, you need to demo them in your room, with your rig. Otherwise, you gamble with your money not to mention the WAF. If s/he knows that they first come into 'he/r' house conditionally for evaluation, half the battle is won. Of course you must read the Toole book, Sound Reproduction before making any choice. The 'room' and the speakers are a package.
Based on your comments about what you want, you are looking for a speaker that is more likely going to be on the detailed side versus the warm side (based on my personal experience). Over the past several years I have owned a lot of speakers in various price ranges, some played loud without caving and others played loud and lost lots of their focus.
A good clean sound (typically refered to as detailed versus warm on the spectrum scale) will be a better starting point. Warmer speakers, to me, don't sound as good when played loud (this may just be the speakers I have personally owned).
On the lower end of the budget I would consider some of the older JBL studio monitors (they play loud, have little distortion, and don't fall apart at the higher levels). On the other end of the spectrum in price are the Wilson speakers or Thiel speakers (newer models or larger models when referencing pricing). These are both highly articulate, detailed speakers that will deliver tight vs. boomy bass and won't fall apart and high spl levels. I have owned both Wilson and Thiel and personally love them both. Thiel will require very good and a lot of power. You can buy used ones pretty reasonable, like the 2.2 (well under $1K), 3.6 (just over $1K), etc. . . Wilsons you can go all the way back to the W/P 3/2 @ $3K?, 5.1 at about $5K, 6's at about $6K (which aren't nearly as good as you move to the closer models, but will give you volume, decent and tight bass but you will need some decend amplification).
Two other speakers that I have owned and feel comfortable commenting on are the Totem Mani speakers (about $1.5K for the non-signature versions). They are not going to give you super bass, but very, very respectible and tight bass (with their dual woofer system). Also the VS VR4JR are fairly good speakers at a reasonable price, also about $1.6 to 1.8K. They will give you more bass than the Totems, but just not quite as tight (which to some is good). The VS are not as detailed as the Totems, Thiels or Wilsons so they may sound a bit louder at the same spl rating.
All of these speakers have from much better than average to exceptional staging. However, short of the VS speakers, none are going to come to life without moderately decent quality equipment/amplification. If you are running a receiver, look at the JBL's. But if you are running a good amp (Pass, Classe, Krell, ML, etc. . ) then you have a lot of options.
There are thousands of speakers I have not heard, so I have restricted my comments only to actual speakers I have owned and lived with for any significant time period.
overall pace and rythem.
Bass extension and weight.
sound stage depth and width.
the "box less sound"
low level Detail.
at least 50" tall
at least 120 lbs.
Nothing too exotic requiring special amps etc.
Not just the front speakers from a home theater system.
Build quality- top grade parts ONLY- no plastic crap. Must accept dual spade lugs. True left and right hand speaker.
Maufactures track record and all around reputation. Cardas or Edison Price binding posts. Spike feet that can be removed.