It's possible they're reacting to the lack of any kind of peak around 1 kHz. I recently had a chance to measure several popular Internet speakers against the 1801, and all of those speakers were more forward in that region, and also had somewhat hotter highs. We could switch instantly among all of the speakers using my magic comparo box, and I guess I can see where someone used to the presentation of the majority of commercial speakers might think the ST's (which are very similarly voiced to the 1801's) would have less presence on voices, and maybe that translates into "dark." The cost of accentuating the region around 1 kHz is that you lose detail on more complex music. The gathering in question wasn't large, but the 1801's were definitely preferred, and were the only speakers that ended up being bought by an attendee. In any event, I don't want to peer too intently into the mouth of the gift horse TAS gave us. Dark, bright, pastel--they liked it.