AverageJoseph, I'm also dreaming about my mid-life purchase. "I lost my license so now I don't drive" - that sort of puts the Shelby Mustang out of contention as the solution for my mid-life crisis
. I understand the urge and enjoyment of upgrading music systems. I'm glad to hear that in addition to your thorough reading of reviews you understand the need to audition speakers to see what "moves you." At the mid-life stage there are a number of factors that can contribute to your own preferences. In my case, a decade of competition quality car audio and long commutes (followed by another decade of tinnitus), leads me to think that I need somewhat brighter speakers in order for me to appreciate the details in music tracks. Translated that means my slightly worn ears are already forgiving to poorly recorded tracks, so I don't need speakers to be extra forgiving. If you are in a similar situation, you may need to audition so you can recalibrate your tastes from a few decades ago.
Since soundstage is important to you, you might want to check out the "K" series by Epos. They are a bit pricier than the quality speakers that have been discussed here, but I have seen demos at 50% off. I remember K1s as providing a deep soundstage with well-defined imaging. They also have that "fun" factor that doesn't show in specs and charts - sort of like the Wharfedale Diamonds. I believe the K series is Epos's first without an aluminum dome tweeter. It's been I while since I auditioned them, but as I recall the tweeter's voicing may offer a compromise for who enjoy metal domes, but want something slightly less aggressive. From that demo (mostly compared to Focus Chorus series). Although they are not for everyone, these Epos have remained near the top of my B&M wish list since I heard them.
I have owned the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s. There is a reason that people rave about them. They are truly "fun." If it were not for the wear & tear on my ears and my current desire for somewhat brighter speakers, I would still own them. Recently, "demo" pairs of 10.1s have been an exceptional value around the $200 mark. I thought the 10.1s were more than sufficient in the 2.0 format. However, in my room they really shined when the crossover was set to 60hz. I think I lost some of the "fun" upper bass when I set the crossover to 80hz.
Enjoy the adventure!
Zorba - thanks for your effort you put into your reviews. If you ever get the chance to listen to the K1s, it would be great to hear your opinion.