First i'm surprised that you didn't take in count a Bose system, not for the sound but for the popularity those systems have among beginners.
Well i have had the b&w 684 for three months with a Denon avr1912 and to me sounds great. Before bougth them i compared to Monitor Audio RX6 and PSB T6 and didn't know what to choose between the MA's and B&W, but finally decided to go with 684, not something special, maybe the MA seemed to me to much bassy for the destinated room.
It is the best system i have had, but nothing much to compare. First i got a Bose 321 gs series iii ( beginner case) which i think sounds good for movies (for a 2.1) but lacks a lot with music. The i got a HK avr 1600 with HKTS-20BQ speakers, sounded better than bose in music. Replace two of them for fronts with Polk audio R300, it improves a lot. Then i sold the Bose and got a denon avr 1912 and the 684's as fronts and the R/C/Sub is part of the HKTS-20BQ.