Hello tvrgeek. I would point out to you that if you look at my system page, (something you might want to post as well) you will see that my phono preamp sits directly below my turntable. I will also mention that the cable from my turntable plus the cable from my phono preamp to preamp likely cost more than your stereo system based on what I have read into your posts. I’m not even talking power cords yet. I’m not bragging. I am pointing out to you that you have no idea what audio can do. You will not experience it with a short visit to a high end store. If you are lucky, you might catch a shadow of a glimpse of the possibilities at a well run, well set up store. Audio sound reproduction has levels that go beyond what you think you know is possible- but it is not cheap to get there. For example, audio can create a holographic sound stage that puts sounds in various points in space from the floor to the ceiling and beyond the walls and in some cases behind the listener- all with just two speakers. It is not just sounds but actual body, shape to the sounds. When I got to this level I was playing my Pink Floyd DSotM album. At the end of side two the laughing voice was right at my ear. I jumped out of my chair the first time that happened. A Roger Waters album plays sounds 90 degrees to my right and my left. It’s uncanny. I don’t know how they do it. Sure, its about phase and amplitude in each channel. No VR glasses needed.
Beyond that and more amazing is how a high level system can convey the soul of the musicians. That’s the best way to put it. This is going well beyond making sound, good bass or clear highs. These are systems that invoke emotional and physical responses. Systems that make you feel what the performer is feeling. Systems that can make you soar, make you sad, invoke tears, goosebumps and toe taping. A good system can build that intimacy just as if you are sitting at the front table of a small club. Carly Simons live Grand Central recording is fun to listen to. The ambience comes through so well it feels like I am standing in Grand Central.
These types of systems are not plug and play no matter how much one may spend. They require tuning, and yes some tweaking. The room is as important a component as the amplifier. Cables matter. Good cables cost a lot. Opinions abound in these threads about what makes sense and what doesn’t but until you have experienced it for yourself it is something difficult to believe is possible.