So yesterday I dropped into the local audio store and did a quick audition while I had a little time to spare.
Speakers: B&W 683s, CM9s, Sonus Faber Venere's 2.5s/3.0s
All music set ups, no HT, no centers.
Salesman caught me looking at the 683's, told him I was looking in the 1500-2000 dollar range. So we threw on the 683s. They started off ok, good sound stage, but the highs were very bright and the word "crunchy" came to mind. Was rather unimpressed or underwhelmed. Balance was pretty good, with the top end gnawing a bit on my ear. Salesman said the wires he had hooked up were a little bright for the speaker, said they would sound better if he had Transparents on there. He was ready to call it quits, when I asked to hear the CM9 adjacent to the 683s. He said out of my price range, but I pressed anyway, and he went ahead and switched to them.
CM9s are way better than the 683s. Way better sound stage and imaging, nice and clear highs, very good balance. I was really impressed. Night and day between these and 683s.
So I crossed off the 683s from my list. Also said, don't play the CM9s with the Denon. They need something better.
Then he said, ok, since we've hit the 3k mark, lemme show you something else. Walks me over and sits me down in front of the Sonus Fabers Venere's. They had the 3.0s and the 2.5s set up. Puts on some Mumford and Sons (which we just heard on the CM9s). My jaw dropped. The 3.0's were incredible. He asked me to guess the price. I way over guessed. He switched to the 2.5's. sound stage grew smaller, but still sounded great. Pretty impressed with these speakers. Also, way over budget at this point. So, sales pitch judgments aside, good to know what you can get for your money.
Now I'm waiting for these Aperion's to show up. I'm very interested to see how they stack up to these other speakers. And without a doubt, during this 30-day trial, I will be going to audition a bunch of speakers.