Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar
If I did keep trying, this is what I'd try:
Speakers: KEF Q150 (whathifi says better at higher volume, which I don't want), Wharfedale Reva 2, ML LX16 (review on S&V or whathifi says some may find bright?), Wharfedale Diamond 220 (too cheap?), RSL CG5 (will it be warm?)
Which would be the warmest? I could order maybe 3 different pairs from Crutchfield along with an AVR and test together. If I do keep trying, I think I should test the new AVR and speakers together in case my present Sony AVR is causing the harshness issue. It may happen the Denon and XT32 totally fixes the issue.
AVR: Denon X3500H, X3600H, X4500H, whatever is on sale or less than $699
Soundbars: Yamaha YSP-2700; Sony HTCT5000 -- I think I could get both from Best Buy and return the loser. I'm thinking of a powered soundbar because my Sonos sounds great with all my streamed music and a soundbar is a set of powered and EQ'd speakers.
On Whathifi and S&V, these 2 soundbars appear to be the closest to what I'm looking for.
Speakers: The KEF Q150s would be good, but you sort of heard what the Revas are like, so try those. In all honesty, there aren't a lot of speakers that don't sound better when you give them a bit more juice.
AVR: Since HT isn't your main focus, you probably aren't looking to future-proof yourself for the upcoming formats (i.e. 8K, HDMI 2.1, HDCP 2.3, etc...), so I'd get the X3500H out of those choices or whatever is the least expensive. However, I don't think the Sony is a bad AVR, I think you just have some wonky settings (even if they're stock/default) producing some less-than-favourable results. If you can please post your AVR settings, it could save you $699. The other things about an AVR with more control over the EQ settings like any of those Denons is that it will allow you to mellow out some of the harshness you've noted about the S15s.
Soundbars: I would truly avoid the soundbars as much as possible even if you think they'd be better. No one here will ever tell you that a soundbar is better, and I would take gajCA's word that it'd sound worse than what you have right now.
And don't discount the importance of a good subwoofer. The HSU VTF people have rec'd would be a good choice, and it has the option to use it as a sealed sub, which would be great for music. As a brand new owner (it arrived today) of a HSU ULS-15 MK2, it's a damned solid sub brand.