Wow what a great list!
Would love to read a brief synopsis on the Contour, Klipsch, NHT speakers - all speaks I would love to hear.
What have you liked the best out of the group?
Ok, I'll try to be brief...
Soundscape 8 (Raal)- Accurate, well rounded. Plays deep, extended without being crazy bright. Open sounding, just on the brighter side of dead neutral but not bright. I liked running them with the rear open. While it plays DEEP, not a thumper in the mid bass. Can do everything well. Great imaging speaker, felt it was slighty affected more by where I was sitting, but by no means bad off axis.
Exotica - Coolest/Best imaging I have ever heard. Instruments seemed suspended in space. Bass was great (powered 8's so not unexpected) Definitely on the warm side. You could listen for hours and hours and never be fatigued. That said, not quite exciting enough for me. Not my first choice for heavier rock and blues. But for many other genres I could see how the speaker could be intoxicating.
NHT 3.3 - older design, odd shape, odd placement. But, full range for sure. Could get a little bright when pushed. But, given the time, goals, and what they cost then - a pretty remarkable speaker.
Palladium P37 - at moderate volumes a great midrange and top end, fast, tight, I didn't really hear any horn honkiness. Great build quality. At louder levels - cymbals came too far forward in the mix, did not play deep at all, needed a sub.
JBL 3900 - Looks old school, but was not remotely bright, never, ever got bright. Didn't play crazy deep, but fast and had an awsome snare and kick drum sound. Honestly, was closer to warm than bright. Sounded a bit better when pushed. Way overpriced at list, but for what you can get them for, a fun, good rock speaker.
Contour 60's - I've always liked the esotar tweeter. It's accurate, they play deep and will absolutely thump. First speaker that I honestly believed broke in (but I don't buy new much). Neutral. Can listen for hours, but there is excitement there. Might read like they need less juice than some Dynaudio - I wouldn't run them with less than 150wpc with an amp that can put out some current. I could see them as getting boomy for some in the wrong set-up, or without an amp that controlled the woofers. Good imaging, slightly less open than the SS8's, don't image quite as crazy as the Exotica's. But, have all the bass of the Exotica's, and a more exciting sound like the SS8's. I dig them.
For me - the 60's or the SS8's are my favorites.
If I could design a speaker...
Give me the bass of the SS8's (with a little more of the dyn's thump), 90% of the SS8's midrange and openness, and a tweeter like the esotar, more of the shape of the contour 60's cabinet, with Jim's custom finishes...
Oh, as far as the matching center channels... for movies.
Jim's Soundscape 3 way center - best I've owned (it's a big boy). But it's awesome.
One of the things I did to open up the Contour 60's a bit more (I like a huge sound) is to run GIK Gotham diffusion panels behind my speakers and on the walls opposite of them. I did not need to do that with the SS8's. The Dyn's can absolutely thump though so I added GIK bass traps in all 4 corners (only ran 2 with the SS8's).