In my youth, we had a clunky record player in which you could stack 45s, followed by quite a decent one with combined radio. We also had a massive Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder and a clunky little portable cassette player. Then, thanks to an inheritance, I was lucky enough to able to buy a set of Technics separates and Wharfedale Glendale XP2s. I grimace at the fact that I can remember the model and number. For the truth is, although I once got great pleasure from listening to hi-fidelity stereo while watching the backlit VU meters dance in the dark, it pailed quite quickly and all I was really interested in was the music.
Over the years, the record and CD collection has grown while the hi-fi has slowly got worse, as things broke down, speakers blew, separates got minitiarised, cassette-players became obsolete and now of course we mostly listen to music as lo-fi MP3s. I still have a half-decent Sherwood amp, Technics turntable, Pioneer CD player and TEAC cassette deck (grimace) but they go through a tiny pair of speakers which were bought for their convenient shelf size rather than because they were any good.
But today, finally, with encouragement from Liz (honestly!) and guided by my colleague Jason, I bought a pair of decent speakers. It wasn't looking good. Everything we saw was super-expensive (1K, 10K, 72K anyone!?) and the shops were starting to close. In the end we found a place which wasn't high-end and I sat on a sofa and listened to a few models while trying to act like I knew what I was doing. Turn the volume up and down, get up and take the grill off & put my ear to the cones, have a look round the back... all to the sound of Tricky's Overcome which Jason brought along to "test the bass". Finally I settled on a pair of slim, tall-ish, free-standing BNTNs - American apparently. I won't bore you with the model.