Great thread! I was directed to this thread from audiocircle.com where Jim has his own manufacturer circle. I am a proud HT3 owners for the past two years and I have ordered a second pair
I can understand the feeling of "No turning back". When I started shopping for speakers 2 years ago, I auditioned everything between $2k to $3k, but then I did something I shouldn't have done - I auditioned a pair of speakers in the $5k range - and I found myself losing all interests in those $2k speakers. As a results, my total budget for the entire rig ballooned from $5k to over $16kk.
The Salk HT3 is a very capable speakers, so capable that it can easily rival speakers up to the $20k mark. Hence the better electronics you use to feed them, the better they sound.
Many people would advise you to stop auditioning once you've bought your speakers, because of the fear of coming across something that's better than what you got. Well, I have not stopped auditioning since I bought the HT3, however the more I listened to other speakers, the more I realized just how good the HT3 are. More often then not, I came out of the audition rooms with a smile in my face, realizing that my speaker is at least equal or better than the more expensive stuff I've just listened to.
I got to confess, however, out of the hundreds of speakers I've auditioned, there's one that lights my fire more than any others, and it's a pair of Acapella Trilon Excalibur, thanks God, they are retails at US$150k a pair and I can't afford them
There's one speakers that you may want to listen, is Strata Mini made by **********. It retails for $2k, if you like them, wait for the sales ( you may get them for $1.5k or less). I have heard them, to my ear they are not in the same league as HT3, but they're closer to your original budget and have ribbon tweeters.
I have a friend in LA who owns the speakers and he may let you audition them.