having purchased my budget minded system about 6 months ago (sony str de-675 reciever, HTD level 3 speaker system), I was initially pleased with my purchase. The living room I was using (12 x 13) was a very bright room, a good amount of windows, and hardwood flooring. We'll get back to this. As I listened closer though, and began to nitpick what I purchased, some glaring issues became apparent to me. Details that I knew were in some pieces of music were missing a bit. Some midrange tones in music were almost piercing to listen to. (Martice's reference disc really brought this to light, btw). Knowing that I purchased definitely budget-minded equipment led me to immediately begin to blame the system itself. I moved speakers, moved the sub, changed from small to large speaker settings, started lurking here . I then went, and auditioned a set of Paradigm reference 60's, hooked up to a Marantz reciever. "Heaven!" I exclaimed. THERE are those details I'm missing! Even clearer, I thought, is the fact that my equipment is just lacking. So the shopping/dreaming stage began. Now the attic of my house is a finished room, fully carpeted, with low (6'5") ceilings, and is 13 x 23 or so.... the walls are verticle till about the 3 foot mark, then angle to follow the roofline. A lightbulb went off in my head out of frustration. I brought 2 speaks, the subwoofer, and reciever/cd player upstairs, and sat and listened. And was promptly blown away by what a HUGE difference the room made. Now, a week later, after a small session of pleading to my better half that this was the best thing to do *wink*, my whole setup is now in this room. I then went out and grabbed the Radio Shack spl meter, and borrowed an Avia CD off a friend. After an initial adjustment, I pressed play on the "extended pod race lap 2" of SW:TPM. I heard sounds I didnt even realize were there, and was simply amazed at what I'd been missing. The moral to this? I think the room change made far more of an impact than if I were to stay in the original room, and upgrade my equipment. So if you are new to all of this, take a good look at the room your planning on putting equipment in. Plan to have some sort of room treatment $$ set aside when you budget your system out, if the room you're going to be using isnt very good sounding. Believe what you read when the room itself is a huge part of the equation, and should be treated as a component itself. Granted, I can still see things I'd like to improve, but I feel I am finally getting my money's worth out of what I purchased.