Another few weeks go by, and I find myself building another wall of sound. I picked up some Kenwood KL-777's and Pioneer S-710's and decided to compare them to what I have setup, the McIntosh XR-16's with the SX-1980.
I also got a set of McIntosh XR-14's, but they showed up a bit broken, so I'll compare those another day after I get the parts in to fix them.
As expected (for Kenwoods and 15's), the Kenwoods are on the warm side. There is a very strong bass response all the way down and a balanced midrange and highs. There is definite overlap on the crossover frequencies that causes voices to sound "large." I'm not sure how to describe it, It's like listening to a tube amp, distortion-wise, though I know the inputs are clean from the SX-1980. The detail level is very good, but the noise floor keeps them from perfect resolution.. It would be good for vinyl, rock, club/house, and probably live recordings, but maybe not electronic/other music with a lot of headroom.
The Pioneer S-710's have replacement woofers in them so take anything bass related with a grain of salt. From the ribbon tweeter, the highs were impressive. Incredibly clear highs. Really spot on clarity. I can see why people pull these tweeters to put in other speakers. The midrange was near-clinical with low, barely noticeable distortion. Good resolution of details, but not quite as outstanding as the tweeter. The replacement woofers are good quality vintage Rolas, look like fiber-added sandwich manufacturing, have very heavy drivers, and are probably an appropriate and good replacement. HPM woofers might be more brand appropriate, but these are the ones I have now. They cost about the same either way. Speaking of the bass, it was still good. Since the woofers are smaller than the kenwoods, the bass sounds best when the highs are turned down on the speakers (giving it a little help). The total clarity of the highs make these speakers winners. The speakers were overall low distortion and would be good for most music and amp types.
Regarding the McIntosh XR-16's - they're perfect and you can't have them haha. They are easily in the top 3 speakers I have ever listened to. They have no noticeable distortion, good tight bass, mid, and high response, and are perfectly flat from about 20 hz to 50khz. If you like the heart stopping bass, you can equalize up the very low bass a bit. I like to add ~3db to the 15-50 hz range with music so that I can feel the deep bass in my chest even at low levels. I'm hoping the XR-14's are as good as the 16's once I get them going.
Hiding in the corner there are some Jensen TF-3's. I couldn't find parts so I'm parting them out so other people can find parts for theirs. They sounded pretty good, even down a tweeter. Very warm, good for rock/classic rock/guitars.