I'm in a similar boat in a way, although it looks like your price range is a bit higher than mine.
I will let others chime in with recommendations but will give you a list I am considering. Admittedly, these may not meet your criteria if you are willing to drop a lot more cash than I am. For 2 fronts, I have a fairly strict 3K budget.
Contenders for me (no particular order):Aperion Grand Verus towers
- 1800 for two with free shipping and free return shipping during 30 day trial. Really outstanding internet reviews and a lot of supporters here it seems. Have seen a few posts saying that the ascend sierra towers or the song salk towers are 'better' but I'm still looking to read the definitive in-home shootout.Ascend Sierra Towers
- ~2000-2900 with shipping depending on exterior selection and if you want the 700 RAAL ribbon tweeter upgrade. People are also raving about these on this site and others. Made of bamboo without upcharge. Return shipping is paid by the buyer but they also do a 30 day in home trial.Salk Song Tower
- similar in price to Ascend Sierra towers with or without RAAL tweeter upgrade. Less clear in home trial period but very similarly lots of fans online. Lots of choices for exterior appearance. For all of these interned direct brands, I am a believer that I am getting better components for my money. Just hard to buy without hearing and I am not sure I have the time to arrange multiple in home auditions.B&W CM9
- 3000 a pair, likely 1500 cost to BB or other retailers though. I have HEARD these twice and maybe it's just me but I was very very impressed with mids / highs. Heard one next to a pair of 804Ds (7500/pr
) with same setup and didn't hear 4500 worth of difference. Maybe 1000 worth of difference. I'm having a hard time not pulling the trigger but keep thinking that the internet directs 'must' be better for the price.Philharmonic 2s
. Love the price for a RAAL tweeter and love the great feedback I'm reading about these online. I just cannot handle the appearance.Martin Logan Vista
electrostatic - discountinuted / on clearance for 2000 a pair. Panel size similar to the Theos / Ethos (which I've heard) and really loved the sound. Their directional nature and very different soundstage was at times disconcerting. I'm also worried that I heard a Martin Logan ESL, 2K for a pair not on clearance (also getting fantastic internet reviews) in the same room with the CM9s and the CM9s KILLED it top to bottom. I went back and forth 3 times to be sure because I happen to find the ML look 'cool' but it wasn't even in the same league. Maybe a setup issue and YMMV...just what I heard.
Many more mentioned here, KEFs, Paradigms, PSBs, etc.
I probably haven't helped much...too new to this myself. But here is what I am considering with a 3K budget.