I’m following this thread with interest. On a forum where sound quality is all too often perceived as being proportional to the price tag of a component it’s refreshing to read a discussion where the participants are seeking to rely on science.
Thank you very much, Ian!
Unfortunately there is no peer-reviewed research which directly supports the direction I'm pursuing, but I don't have time to wait for it, so I try to find guidance in relevant words of people who are smarter than me. Not everything that is useful has yet been conclusively "proven".
I‘m a fan of dipole speakers and like many others who have lived with dipoles for any length of time, I would find it very hard to go back to traditional box speakers. There are two main reasons for that and one of them is the sense of space and openness you get with a properly set up dipole.
I'm also a SoundLab dealer, and have owned many Maggies, so I understand that good dipoles are an incredibly difficult act to follow!
Over the years I've made two sales to SoundLab owners, and almost made a third. In that third case, he placed an order for a set of my first-generation bipolar speakers after hearing them in his dedicated listening room, but then when he replicated my set-up configuration with his SoundLabs, he reconsidered and cancelled the order. He had been a SoundLab owner for over two decades and told me mine was the first speaker that really came close.
Here is some online commentary from someone who did replace his SoundLabs with one of my systems; I DO NOT claim my speakers are "better than" the SoundLabs, but perhaps they can be arguably competitive in some ways:
Here is an excerpt which is anecdotal support for some of what I've been saying in this thread, and which is probably the sort of thing you have known all along:
"The mains are placed approximately 7 feet from the front wall... As a test, I moved them to within 2 feet of the front wall. The magic went poof in a hurry. Personally, after playing with placement over these 2 months, I would allow an absolute minimum of 4-5 feet behind them."