Originally Posted by andrewtodd
I remember the KEF reference speakers I heard being incredibly detailed and I'd never heard music sound that good.
It's hard to put into words why I liked the B&W without sounding like an idiot. I don't know if this makes any sense but during a build up in one of the songs I played I almost felt like I'd just been injected with adrenaline. It almost felt like it was live rather than coming from speakers. I liked that it drew me in.
I told you I couldn't explain it without sounding like an idiot.
Sometimes "detail" comes from speakers that have a treble emphasis in the frequency response, but that can be fatiguing and hard with extended listening.
Sometimes, it comes from treble that is undistorted, smooth sounding, and extended, so that there can be plenty of trouble without the fatigue or harshness.
Also, dynamic capability helps a lot, because speakers that can't play loud will compress and cover up the detail.
Another thing that sometimes comes into play is that some speakers can be hard to drive, causing some amplifiers to strain and making the speakers sound different.
I find that the newer B&W 80x series speakers have really clean and clear midrange and treble that puts them above most speakers.
The Legacy Aeries has even better midrange and treble, plus nicer bass and imaging, which is why I think that they surpass the B&W 80x by a nice margin. A potential problem, though, is that they are open baffle, which means they may not do so well behind an AT screen. B&W 80x speakers aren't really designed for that either. The Legacy Theater Towers might be worth checking out, but I haven't heard them or heard anyone talk about them, yet.
Based on your description and that of others, I'd recommend checking out:
JTR Noesis 212 - Descriptions have been pretty similar to B&W 80x, but with better directivity control and more efficient, which is great for home theater and behind a screen.
JTR Noesis 215 - Similar to the 212s, but with a bit better imaging and directivity control (with the larger, constant directivity horn) and more bass.
Danley SM60F - Even better imaging and directivity (synergy horn) and very efficient and dynamic, like the JTRs. Many of the other Danley models don't have the extended treble that will be up there with the B&W 80x speakers and JTRs. These, however, are designed to have that audiophile sound, with extended treble.
I'm not sure what to think of the Seatons for you. Since they are active, with built in amps and active crossovers, they should be extremely clean and dynamic sounding. However, people don't seem to be falling in love with the imaging or treble as often, like they do with these other speakers. Maybe they just aren't as common.
The JBL M2s sound like they might be the best of everything:
(includes comparison to B&W 800s)
A couple more things to get:
4 good subs.
Some sort of good room EQ setup that gives you a lot of control, like Dirac (Datasat, Emotiva, Theta, PC), Trinnov, JRiver (PC) (perhaps with Audiolense XO or Dirac Live), or MiniDSP. You are obviously very picky about the sound, and it will really help to have the right tools to dial in the sound that you want.