A local dealer we have spent a ton of money with over the years loaned me Zeiss, Leica, Canon, Nikon, Swarovski, and Pentax binoculars to take home and try out. It wasn't about trust, he had my credit card number on file.
After much testing and comparing them I decided on the Zeiss with the special coatings and the Canon IS, the rest were returned. You all are right, one pair just isn't enough. BTW, I thought the Swarovski were the sharpest and best corrected across the FOV and the Leica were the most comfortable to hold, but I was mildly disappointed in their performance. Not that they're bad, they're exceptional. I was just expecting them to be more exceptional than they were and what one would expect for the price. I thought the Swarovski were sharper and better corrected.
The thing is, the Zeiss had a huge FOV and were noticeably the highest transmission, brightness, and contrast of the bunch. I could see things with them the others totally failed to reveal. They are not as well corrected across the FOV, but the change is gradual and so one doesn't notice unless looking for it. Some of the others had a sharp drop in performance as stars were moved towards the edge and that was really annoying.
The Canon IS binoculars are extremely well-corrected across the entire FOV and are very sharp in the center. They have terrific coatings and excellent contrast, light transmission, and brightness. Most important of all, they were extremely comfortable to hold and use for long periods of time. With the IS, I can fully appreciate their higher magnification to really stare at distant objects to extract all of the detail I can. If I didn't have a huge amount to spend on binoculars, I would get a pair of the Canon IS binoculars, they're really terrific.
So, I now have a high power pair of binoculars for really scrutinizing objects and a lower power pair with phenomenal coatings/light transmission and a wide FOV for sweeping the Milky Way and looking for DSOs.
I still really want to try the Doctor and the Minox binoculars, they're on my list to get next. I'll probably get a pair of the Swarovski binoculars later too once I recover from this shopping spree. I'll post a more detailed review later. I just really wanted to thank everyone for their time, advice, and equipment feedback, you all helped so much! Thank you!