I'll start by getting right to the point: the speakers sound way better and I'm quite happy with them now. They're not yet fully "there" but they're damn close.
1) Probably my ears
2) Maybe "break-in" (but I've never fully believed in the merits of prolonged break-in and I'm fully aware of the controversial nature of that topic). With the couple of weeks that have gone by, there is noticeable (to me and my girlfriend) added clarity and impact that wasn't there before.
3) Better level-matching across all channels
4) Better material for auditioning
5) last but not least, a revision of my expectations- or rather, my interpretations- of what the speakers should do
I found that with really good material, the speakers sound fantastic (and with the sub dialed down another 3 dB!). With mediocre material, guess what... they sound mediocre. I kept remembering the earlier post where a wise person stated I might be missing the distortion that I'm used to. I think there's some merit to that. This speakers are revealing, and they do not seem to lie. They're not "clinical" but they clearly do care about the material quality.
Next, I really do think a beefier supply of power with more headroom is needed. Maybe the speakers will just compress, maybe not. I just feel like the power being delivered isn't adequate. I'm looking into separates later this year.
Finally, I did reach out to Scan-Speak and had a less-than-stellar experience, which was disappointing. I emailed the firm, asking if the two tweeters were electromechanically identical and therefore could use the same crossover design interchangeably and this was the response:
Thank you for your mail.
Madisound is our distributor and therefore they know our products very, very well. We improve our products all the time and we are up-dating our specs based on this, so this might be the reason for modified parameters.
If you need further information please contact Madisound again.
While I get what was being said, I found this to be a weak move. I emailed back asking for a simple statement of clarity and my email went unanswered. How unfortunate.
I tried to find a way to contact Zaph via his site but all I could find were discouraging pages requesting I do nothing of the sort.
So I'm just going to continue to tune by ear (and by instrument if and once I'm ready to). Madisound did say repeatedly that the tweeters were equivalent, and now with the changed performance I am inclined to believe them. I am now focusing on paying attention to the baffle step and whether it's appropriate.