Other than the Usher Be-10's that we got to listen to for a few hours at a dealer in PA, my wife and I like the Usher Be-718's as our favorite speakers by far (regardless of size or style or price range), even though we like a variety of others very much too including certain ones from Sonus Faber, Wilson, and Focal (the 826V's in particular). However, we would also like more low end oomph, extension, and liveliness such as the Mini Dancer II has (per reviews that I have read). We have not had a chance of being able to listen to them yet though, so we don't have any personal experience with them as we do with the Be-718's from numerous demo's at various dealers using a wide variety of electronics, cables, in different rooms, and so on. The Focal 826V's are our second choice as we like them a great deal. However, when we listen to them, we miss the Usher Be-718's traits even with what they lose in comparison to the 826V's for slam, liveliness, extension, etc.
We listen at very low to moderate volume levels at most for personal preference and due to living in a ground floor apartment that thankfully has pretty decent walls and floors / ceilings so that we and our neighbors do not hear much noise or sounds from one another. The system would go in the living room which is 12 feet wide with the speakers facing the opposite wall 12 feet away as we sadly cannot rearrange the furniture, etc. into a mutually pleasing manner to have them fire down the long way as I would strongly prefer. We also have our 10 1/2 month old son to contend with and keep away from sensitive electronics, top heavy speakers on stands, burning hot vacuum tubes, cords or all kinds, etc. We listen to a lot of blues, some jazz (my wife loves saxophone and played for seven years, so she very much enjoys Kenny G as do I), some gospel / choir, and some rock and roll too. We like very visceral, punchy, tight, dynamic, lively, driving sound ... yet mixed with smooth, easy on the ears, non fatiguing, airy, nuance revealing, and with an extremely high importance placed on intense emotional engagement and involvement ... hence why we like the Usher Be-718's so much. They offer all of that and more even though they really benefit from and basically need high power and of good quality; such as the Parasound A21, or better. I have much experience with that amp in general and we both love the sound it has with these speakers. I know there are far better CD players and out there, or even integrated amps, but we do not want to spend over 10K$ total including 6% sales tax, so I want to keep a somewhat mutually even or similar cost of each piece if possible ... or somewhat more for the speakers in the case of the Mini Dancer II's.
My ideas on a system are as follows:
(A) The Usher Be-718's with proper stands and cables such as Nordost Blue Heaven or Kimber 8TC with a Parasound A21 power amplifier and a Raysonic CD player; most likely the CD238 with full XLR / balanced outputs via 12AX7 tubes (we love the sound of a good tubed system and looking at them glow is wonderful and strongly wanted by both of us) where the CD player uses its digital variable output / volume control to directly drive the Parasound A21 power amp via its balanced outputs/inputs for a more driving, punchy sound. We would only be using CD as a source ... nothing else. I know about digital volume controls eating away at the bits and lowering the resolution that way especially at very low listening levels, but how much is this a factor to consider or be concerned about / how much does it really make a difference ? Has this Cd player been reviewed or tested for such a problem, and if so, what were the results please ? We would probably use matching brand and model XLR interconnects or Kimber Hero's. I would also use my PS Audio Power Port receptacle and power cords as I have a few of the new ones. As mentioned, we both really like a good tubed system to listen to and look at as it is very relaxing and entrancing; especially in the evenings. I am thinking that getting some good sounding tubes like Mullard NOS or EH 12AX7's (rolling as needed) into the CD player would give us enough of the tubed sound we like even though we won't be able to see them for the most part despite the blue backlighting of the area they are in.
(B) System idea "B" is the same system but with the Mini Dancer II's.
(C) System idea "C" is the Usher Be-718's with proper stands and cables as described above, but with the Raysonic vacuum tube integrated amp (SP-200) at 100WPC RMS using KT88's (my favorite tube by far) that is just gorgeous to look at and sounds great (to us at least). Since the integrated amp has all the tubes that we would need for functionality and looks, the CD player doesn't need them any more (in our opinions). With that in mind, perhaps we would get a Bryston BCD-1 or an Ayre CD7xe-MP (model # may be wrong) and use the RCA / single ended outputs into the integrated amp's RCA / single ended inputs since it does not have XLR / balanced inputs.
(D) System idea "D" would be the same as "C" but with the Mini Dancer II's.
(E) Same as "C" or "D" but with an entry level ($349) Marantz CD player feeding its signal into a Benchmark DAC1/Pre with its remote controlled variable output / volume control (allowing it to function as a preamp) and its built in high end DAC and use the RCA / single ended outputs into the integrated amp.
We know that we really enjoy the Usher speakers and want to get either the Be-718's or the Mini Dancer II's with the second choice being the Focal 826V's as mentioned despite all other ones listened to or not listened to yet, those are the ones that we want very much. Due to several very negative experiences with either the dealers or distributors / importers, we will not even consider purchasing certain brands of electronics; be it tubed or solid state even though they may be better in many ways. We are not willing to put money (profit) into the pockets of people that have treated either me or us like dirt even if what they sell or can get is superior.
If I can get as many professional reviewers comments, that would be truly very helpful and appreciated please.
Thank you very much.