Hi all,\n\nNew poster and longtime lurker. \n\nAs the title says, I feel like I'm at a frustrating endpoint in my audio quest, and hoping to draw from your guys' experience for some direction.\n\nI bought my first speaker system a couple years ago because at my old house my tv speakers were not cutting it. \n\nFirst I bought an old budget pair of Klipsche bookshelves (P15s? I dont really remember) They were really shrill, and I sold them fairly quickly. \n\nAfter reading a bunch of the mainstream audio review sites (I now understand these platforms are often pay to play) I purchased the ELAC Unifi UF5 Towers. These had beautiful, lush musical bass but sounded about engaging as energetic as a sponge. They also had kind of a dark muffled sound at times- like there is a wet blanket over them. Paradoxically, they also sound inorganic and kind of metallic. \n\nIn the past few months I decided to start demoing speakers to see what I like. Ive found some speakers that do certain things right, but not everything right. Every one of the high-end, expensive speakers I have tried have had certain large flaws. I've been kind of shocked at this whole experience, because to my ears my $60 set of logitec computer speakers handily beats a number of speakers 50x more expensive. Like, the logitecs dont have great detail retrieval or clarity but at least they they present very engagingly without parts of the sound spectrum seemingly disappearing. \n\nIm still looking for my Goldilocks speaker.\n\n\nVarious Kefs- very similar to the ELACs but worse imo- very metallic and unengaging\nVarious B&W- Metallic, boring, no dynamics\nWarfedale Evo 4.4- nice highs! Absolutely sloppy bass (for my room at least) and terribly muddy mids\nTannoy Revolution 6XTE- Similar to above. Very, very dark speakers.\nMartin Logan 35XTI bookshelves- Eureka! These are much more organic and clear. Guitars actually sound like guitars instead of a bad digital rendering of them. Theres energy in what I listen to. This is what I was missing in the others... things sound like theyre supposed to! Only issue is they arent as full-bodied as towers. They just cant play very loud and I wish they had more bass to be better full range speakers. Somewhat more minor issue is that they sound slightly grainy. Though thats not a total dealbreaker. \nMartin Logan 60XTI Towers- I had high hopes for these.... but where did the magic for the 35s go ML? These are very "meh". The highs and satisfying acoustic resonances are gone.\nFocal Aria 906 bookshelves- holy clarity batman! It sounds very organic, but it sounds almost too clinical to the point that theyre not engaging.\nFocal Aria 948 Towers- Holy clarity and body batman! These sound almost perfect- but they dont quite come alive until higher volumes (and I have a small space), and there's still something missing... a certain *zing* in the acoustic guitar resonances. \nDef Tech 9060- Hard to describe. Sometimes they sounded good, sometimes they sounded imprecise and like the drivers were way too small. Bass gets bloaty in my room. Theyre also ugly as hell. \nAscend Sierra Tower with RAAL- After all the others, I had only tthe ML 35XTIs and the focal 948s remaining. I was hoping, based on my extensive reading of forums, that the ascend towers could give the best of both worlds- the clarity\/full body of the focals with the acoustic resonance\/energy\/zing of the MLs. Unfortunately I was once again disappointed. They seem unbalanced to my ears. Like, they have very punchy bass but they color the sound to be sweet and there seems to be something missing in the middle of the sound.... some body that just isnt there. The highs are very sweet and engaging, but almost a little artificially so. Where the MLs sound like an actual acoustic guitar being played in front of me, the Sierras make it sound unnaturally sweet or high. Theres unnaturally sweet zzzing out of string instruments that I dont think actually sound that way.... Im bummed because I really wanted to like these speakers. That said, they are very engaging, and these are the first speakers where Ive truly understood "holographic imaging" !\n\n\n\nI think I've established a list of qualities Im looking for:\n\nThe etched sound of the MLs\nFull body and clarity of the Focals\nThe forward, engaging nature and the imaging of the ascends\nNot overly smooth\nNot metallic (I dont think I like aluminum tweeters)\nwide horizontal dispersion (my room is wider than it is long)\n\n\nWhere do I go from here? Im at a loss. Id appreciate any recommendations you guys have. Budget is probably 3.5k, but Id like to stay well below that if possible. \n\n\nI've heard that SALKS have a more full midrange and bass than the ascend towers? But theyre very expensive and the waiting time makes them seem inpractical to demo before I have to return the focals and the MLs.\nSonus Faber? Ive heard they have great woody resonances but also that theyre not very engaging.\nDid I skip over soft domes, where I should have explored more?\nThanks all. I appreciate you taking the time to read all this.Ive also attached a pic of the space.