Did more auditioning today...thought I would share
Went to 2 stores and actually had more time, spent maybe 2 hrs at the 1st place and 1 at the second. Thursdays are slow, so basically had the whole place to myself. I listened to Beetohoven's 9th, Dire Straits (Walk of Life and Money for Nothing) and U2 (With or Without you and Running to stand still).
First I listened to 2 Martin Logan speakers driven by a McIntosh Integrated amp, the Motion 40($2,000/pr) and Electromotion ESL ($2,200/pr). Definitely preferred the ESL. I have not heard many electrostatics, but it was impressive in its soundstage and clarity. Bass was also not bad. I definitely noticed the small sweet spot. I was standing when we first started the demo and when I sat down the sound noticeably improved. Motion 40 was meh, so did not spend much time on that, So, overall, I liked the ESL, but then we moved on.
Next was Kef vs. Paradigm. Unfortunately, was not a totally fair fight, b/c they had the Kef R700 vs. the Paradigm Studio 60. A better fight is the Studio 60 vs. the R500 or the Studio 100 vs. the R700. Anyway, I at first liked the Paradigm. It got loud, had a nice, open sound to the highs, and powerful bass for a not so huge speaker. But, after switching to the R700, I realized that, while all the sounds were there on the Paradigm, they were much richer and fuller on the Kef. The Studio 60 was like a hot chick that grabs your attention and you are attracted to, but after dating awhile, well, not much substance there, if you know what i mean.
The R700 really sounded good. Great midrange sound and powerful, full range bass. The highs were a bit smoother/recessed vs. the ESL or other ribbons I have heard, but overall, really a great speaker. They are $3600/pr while the R500s are $2,600/pr. He offered me the floor model R700 for $2,900, but it has a pretty noticeable area of cosmetic damage, so I declined. Plus, I want to keep looking.
I also listened to the Kef Blades powered by the top of the line McIntosh monoblock amps. We A/B compared the Blades to the R700s. (It is kinda cool that the Uni-Q driver in the R700 looks exactly like the Blades driver, although I am sure it is not exactly the same. But, you can definitely see the trickle-down effect right there in front of your eyes.) The blades were way better, but the R700s held their own, and the Blades were not 10x better, but they cost 10x as much.
Then, store number 2 had the Dynaudio DM 3/7 vs. both the Focal 816v and the 826v. They offered me the 826v for $2,375 and the smaller Focal and Dynaudio for just under 2 grand. Anyway, the Dynaudio was powerful, smooth, nothing bad about it, but it did not wow me. I guess I had the same reaction to it as I did to the PSBs I heard last week. But I really liked the Focal 826v. I thought it had great, airy, open highs and also smooth mids and good bass, not quite as powerful or deep as the R700, but enough.
So, now after going to 4 stores, I have liked the Tannoy Precision 6.2, Kef R700 (but I would probably only be able to afford the smaller R500) and the Focal 826v. I am also learning a bit more about what I like. I noticed being drawn to ribbons at RMAF, but I also like bass and rock music/dynamics, which is why the ML ESL maybe was not for me. That is why so far I would probably choose the Focal 826v as it combined the almost ribbon like highs with great mids and bass. I would not pay $3,600 for the R700 over $2,375 for the 826v, but I would love to A/B compare the 826v with the Kef R500s, as they are similarly priced. Once I start getting some of the ID brands into my house after the New Year, I am probably going to try to get the 826v set home to add into the mix.