Well, I agree that it is somewhat difficult to hear the intricacies of each speaker in the showroom. You're overwhelmed with all the choices, plus you're distracted by the salesman who keeps talking, and you're listening to some unfamilar sound tracks or demos, etc. It is only after hours of uninterrupted listening at home where you may truly pick up all the nuances of a speaker.
With that said, I was still very impressed with the B&W CM9s. You don't have to study a speaker in-depth to know if it is generally good, or not. I think I would be happy enough with them, at least until I heard something "better". My primary question in this thread was, "Are there other speakers that sound as good, for less money?"
I just started looking... and I hate to jump to rapid decisions, and I also hate paying retail. Buying the first pair of retail speakers that I like seems foolish... it goes against who I am.
Diminishing returns is huge.
I think there are many less expensive speakers that sound just as good. But it's all a matter of opinion.
If you have time, try NHT. They offer a 30-day return policy with free shipping both ways - even on return.
If you must buy towers, the NHT Absolute Towers and Classic Four are great IMO. I've owned NHT and I can recommend them without reserve. I think you will need subs with all speakers. That is why I like bookshelf. But if you like towers, then buy towers.
Bottom line, you just have to see for yourself.
Aperion & KEF Direct also offer free returns.
Others are Revel F12 or KEF QQ900 or Focal. Ascend, Philharmonics, Salk, SVS, etc. But most do not offer free returns. You will have to pay to ship them back.