Speaker recommendation $10-20K (with some requirements!)

Recent lessons of the developing audiophile:

  • Don’t buy speakers without demonstration

  • Speaker break in is real...but will not fundamentally change DNA

  • Really appreciate the wisdom of this forum!

I recently changed my old B&W Matrix 803 Series 2 with new Dynaudio Countour 60i’s. A number of you helped on my: How important is speaker break-in? post - thanks! The Dyn’s are not fully broken in, but I think I can see where this is going: They have great soundstage, detail, and bass. In comparison, the B&Ws sound smaller, thinner, slightly less detailed overall, and do not throw big bass. (The B&W’s are supplemented nicely with a quality subwoofer, but that still sounds a little more like component parts stitched together, than the way the Dyn’s deliver an integrated output).  

The problem? The Dyn’s are hard in the mids and highs, and my (aging) ears are very sensitive to that. I have some tinnitus that I usually don’t notice...unless a hard or ringing sound sets it off, and these speakers are doing it big time. Immediately fatiguing (unless the recording is just somebody plucking at a bass guitar). The B&Ws are pretty sweet in the mid-range and most recordings don’t trip my hard/edgy line. So, I WILL go demo before buying this time, but I am hoping this group can help narrow the search a bit, and I am letting budget drift up if that helps get it done. Here are constraints and goals, and equipment:

*Absolutely must be smooth and silky - not hard, edgy, ringing, brittle, etc. - in the mids and highs. Ironically, I tend to listen mostly to heavier music, but I care mostly about sweet and detailed delivery of delicate sounds, like vocals and piano. For say, heavy metal, I don’t care if the system reproduces it perfectly, only that it tilts away from ragged, ringing tones as much as possible.

*After that, I want a big, authoritative sound with meaningful bass, detail - everything one would want in a speaker, but compromises can be made.  

*Room Treatments. Room is medium size, does not have treatments, and it is what it is. It is not a dedicated audio room, so I can’t start throwing stuff up on the walls (WAF). (The room does have the benefit of being wood floor applied directly to concrete (with a rug), so at least the floor doesn’t resonate. And it has 2 layers of sheetrock in places). I will live with my room compromises, but the sound coming out the speakers themselves does matter and I want to focus on that.

*Prefer tower style for aesthetics and fit, but open to boxy (e.g. Harbeth) if that’s where I need to go.  

* Equipment: All digital inputs to ARC DAC 8 -> ARC Ref5se preamp -> Bryston 7BSST2 monoblocks (600W). I get that the whole system matters, and that Brystons are supposed to be a little hard. But this problem really started with the new speakers, so that is where I am focusing. If you really think different amps or something are going to turn the Dynaudio’s silky sweet in the mids and high, please say that with some conviction and support.

As always, really appreciate the greater knowledge of this community!

@mathiasmingus--lots of recommendations to ponder--my 2 cents:

1.agree with @chorus & others--start with room treatment for harsh highs/mids--easier to address and absolutely necessary before changing speakers
2. Those Bryston amps are powerful but are you absolutely sure they are not clipping at the volume you listen ?  I'm guessing with hard rock you listen loud?  A cheap oscilloscope will tell you--amp clipping will increase harshness in highs/mids
I would check out Aerial 7T's. They go very well w/Bryston amps. I'm using a Bryston 2.5 SST2 w/the Aerial 5T's. Lots of detail but a smooth top end.
I might be a bit too late in commenting to this post but here it goes.

Bottom line is you need to start from scratch in my opinión.  If you change one thing in your gear it will throw everything off and it’s a non ending story.  Changes will only lead to other changes easily in trying to fix a problem that in reality you will never know where it originates from.  
If you are willing to go that route start with your speakers and think if that is the sound that floats your boat.  Speakers will set the path and they will not detour drastically from the sound.  In my opinion Dyn’s can be a bit bright specially if not paired with a warm sounding amp but it won’t make too much of a difference if you do change amps, it is what it is.  

My sincere remedy for you since this is a matter of your tinnitus condition is to concentrate on auditioning warm sounding gear including changing speakers. I for one my ears do not react positively to harshness or brightness, so I understand where your coming from.  Understand no matter what others might suggest here might not be to your best interest since the actual problem are your ears.  Stay away from metal tweeters for one.  There are good speakers mentioned here like Sonus Faber, Vandersteen, Vienna Accoustics and I also recommend Verity.  One amp you might want to consider for your problem is Pass Labs and even Mcintosh but I lean more towards Pass Labs.

Anyway, audition, audition and good luck to you....