Hi folks, sorry I've been AWOL for the better part of a month. Finished and submitted my dissertation, which I discovered is only possible if you lock yourself in a room WITHOUT an audio system
There are a lot of comments above that look informative, including several suggestions of other speakers to consider. Since my move to the east coast is coming up in 10 days, I'm going to drag this process out a little longer.
Re Salks, yes, the center channel is factoring into my decision. But so far I'm going off of others reviews only, and far be it for me to rule them out because others say the Ascend center is better. If I find someone willing to give me an audition, I'll give them a fair shake.
Re Dynaudios, I'll try out the focus line. They may exceed my budget new, but if I love them, I'll wait til I find a good used set.
Thanks again to everyone who is posting. If I don't respond immediately, don't take that as a sign that I've lost interest. I plan to try as many of the speakers as you suggest as possible, in my home where possible. And I'll probably give the Ascends a 2nd try. Looking over my listening notes, I reacted more positively to the Dalis than to the Ascends, but a month passed between the auditions, and who knows how the stress associated with writing my thesis was affecting me.
Finally, I'm glad to hear your opinions that my NHT amp is capable of driving any of the speakers under discussion.