I listened to and as per current status ruled out:
PMC fact.8, Dali Epicon 6, Paradigm Persona 3F, Kanta 3, Sopra 3.
Audio Physic Codex was better but ultimately not convincing (but I might still do a home demo in case I need to).
The finalists were the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova III (not heard the V but would be an option) and my favorite, the Sehring Audio S913; I will actually order them today. (18K)
The Sehring are very special. Website is only in German (but translates perfectly in Google Translate) but I will write more and post pictures in a few weeks. They are hand-built in Berlin (the factory is a short bike ride from my apartment as it turns out). They are modular and will be adapted by the designer to my particular room and ears (crossover and other things). Stefan Sehring, the designer, is a fabulous guy. He’s splitting his time on studio work and home hifi, and the home speakers carry much of the studio DNA, being very precise and with a very flat frequency response by design (but can be adjusted as mentioned).
They rely mostly on word of mouth but there’s a review of the S916 (slightly larger) and S903 (smaller) on the German Image Hifi website. They also got an award by the German Fairaudio site.
They will probably be ready in four weeks. Once they are with me, I will probably still invite my dealer to bring the Sonus Faber. I am more or less sure I prefer the Sehring, but the SF have a beautiful silky sound, though maybe a bit too pleasing for my taste, but I can certainly understand if someone preferred them. And it’s my regular dealer, so I’ll give them the chance if they want to. Sehring offers a four weeks return guarantee if not pleased, so in the worst case I could do that.
Some other speakers were ruled out beforehand because of looks (B&W), because I never liked any of them before (KEF), or because impossible to audition (most UK favorites like ATC and ProAc for instance).
Because of the Kudos’ rep on the forum I am still trying. It’s a 2 hours drive to a dealer who seems to have Titans, but when I called him up he had just had a water pipe burst in the shop, everything was under water and he was understandably a bit stressed and asked for patience. Maybe that still works out for an audition, will see