I'd greatly appreciate some help/feedback on my speaker situation. Here's the deal:
I have an all Bryston system (BCD-1 CDP/BDA-1 DAC/BP26 pre/4BSST amp) fed by a Mac-based server. My room is approximately 22x19x10 and well treated (ACS's "Iso-Room" wall/ceiling system, several Tube Traps in the front corners and Sound Planks on the walls). Probably a bit to the well-dampened side. I play mostly rock and pop, with some jazz and much less classical. I really want a system that can provide some slam with rock...tonal balance and dynamics are my biggest priorities.
The Bryston gear is great, but I'm not really satisfied with the performance of the speakers. I currently have both Focal 1027Be's and B&W 803D's - I've essentially been 'auditioning' both brands with the mindset that I would possibly move up in whichever one I felt was 'it'. (i.e. Focal 1037Be or Utopia Alto, B&W 802/800D). Both sets have had plenty of burn-in time (6-9 months). Unfortunately, both have their shortcomings. I've tried a few options of cabling, and the results - while different in some ways - didn't change the overall sonic signature of each speaker.
Here's what I hear and the pro's/con's of each speaker:
pro-remarkably coherent and transparrent, very open and 'ripe' (as opposed to tight and dry). Initially a bit 'tweeter-centric', but after considerable burn-in, much more balanced with incredible bass for their size. Unfortunately, bass is a still a bit shy for my rather large room.
con-a bit 'airy' sounding. It's like the attack/decay combination leans towards less attack and more decay/bloom. Like being hit with a beachball or maybe a volleyball instead of a bowling ball. Again, needs a bit more bass, which - if not for the character of the bass - could be solved by either the matching sub (a whole other can-o-worms, I realize-see question #4 below) or moving up to the 1037Be's
pro-very punchy bass, articulate and forceful midrange (the kevlar at work, I'm sure) with smooth highs - never any sibilance.
con-too tight and dry, midrange sounds narrow and veiled. Soundstage is a bit restricted. Overall, the sound is dark and closed-in, at least with current amplification.
1. Would more amplification (e.g. Bryston 7B mono's) make a dramatic difference for either speaker? I'm thinking more of the B&W's, to open and loosen them up?
2. How does Focal's Utopia line compare with the Electra Be line?
3. Is the 'airy' or 'chuffy' quality I hear with the Focal's due to the fact that they are a ported design? (Though B&W's don't have as much of this quality.) If so, do I steer away from a ported design or does that relaly limit options, as I believe ported designs greatly outnumber non-ported.
4. What about using the Bryston 10B-sub and trying to integrate one or two subs into a system? I've actually spoken with the folks at JL Audio (Carl is great!) about using two Fathom f113's and - as you would predict - they feel their subs produce the best sub-100Hz bass on the planet! These subs have a lot of customization options, like room correction for the largest bass node and adjustable attenuation of the low bass.
5. I prefer an open, ripe sound but with alot of weight/authority and a bit of a 'bite'. I don't have to have a system that can 'plum the depths' of the sub-25Hz region, but bass needs to be plenty. What other speakers/systems should i consider in the $8000-20,000 price range?
Sorry for all the detail, but I'm trying to save a lot of back-and-forth on questions about my current situation and tastes.