"On looks alone, I'd rate them
1. Studio 100 (not a box, curved sides w/nice mix of wood and metals)
2. MA GX200 (not a box, curved sides and wood all over, way over my budget)
2. Focal 386V (more a trapezoid, wood vinyl (?) wrap on sides, gloss in front/top, rosenut not avail)
3. MA RX6 (a box but nice rosenut wood all over, small size that makes me nervous it won't live up to expectations, would still go rx8)
4. Dynaudio X36 (a box with nice wood except the grey front, wtf)
5. Kef R700 (a box, silver rings look kinda odd on the rosenut)"
Well, after a lot of beers and mulling it over for a while, it comes down to this. My initial desire was to find a set of full range towers, primarily for music, but that would pull double duty for HT. As far as being the most full range, the studio 100 and the dynaudio x36 played the lowest. The 100 and the focal were the brightest with the x36 and the rx6 having the most neutral, but satisfying high end. The b&w cm9 was just muffled. I never got another audition with the KEFs unfortunately. I also never got to hear the rx8 in person.
Regardless, during my search, a fellow avs member (Reefdvr27) sent a pm that he was selling his rx8s (and rx center) in rosewood which were used in the recent NE GTG. He offered the LCR for 1/3 the retail price of the others I auditioned. Having liked the rx6, but unsure if the rx8 would fulfill my wants of a really good low end, I had to think about it while still trying to hear more speakers. He said to let him know as they wouldn't be put on the classifieds for a couple of weeks. I reread the pro reviews and those from the NE GTG for more insight in the meantime.
As I said before, I'm not yet in the position to afford the $3k speakers. So I had some beers and pitched it to the mrs. My reasoning was, 1. It's 1/3 of the price of the speakers I've been looking at 2. It includes a matching center which would keep me from having to spend more on that later 3. If they weren't quite everything I wanted them to be I could probably sell the LCR for more than I'm buying it for, 4. I really liked the look and sound of the rx6, and 5. If I don't buy these then I'll be spending 3x as much later and still need a center. My wife agreed that it was a great offer and that I should go for it.
Dave (Reefdvr27) is a great and honest guy from the correspondence I had with him. The transaction was smooth and painless and the speakers were packed well arriving unharmed. He even helped out with part of the shipping costs! He did all this while working 14hr days running a business and still finding time for doting on his wife for Mother's Day. I don't have a place for the center yet, but the rx8s are up. I haven't really messed with them yet or rerun the room correction, etc., just plopped them next to the entertainment center and played my demo cd. They sound great! The bottom end is about 95% of what I was after, for the price I payed I couldn't ask for more. The midrange and highs are as clean as I remembered the rx6 being in that treated room. Dave reminded me that these speakers are famous since they're on the avs homepage, or they were last time I looked. I have a feeling these will last me for a long while. The Hsu HB-1s will be moved to surround duty and I have plans for a DIY 2'x6' acoustic panel behind my couch since it's against the wall.
Thanks again to everyone here for their input and especially to Dave!