All right, I'll play.
I grew up around good stereo equipment -- Bozaks, Citations and McIntosh, Revox reel-to-reel and so forth -- and got my first stereo in Jr. High. A few years later I heard DQ-10s, which I thought amazing (and bought), and then mated it with a reworked pair of Dyna Mk IIIs (8417 tubes) and a Precision Fidelity Preamp. SOTA table, Premier arm, and various Denon cartridges.
The awakening happened when I heard the Beveridge Model 2-SWs and the Hill Plasmatroic loudspeakers. I preferred the Bevs -- they simply were stunning. I also heard properly set-up QUAD 57s in a great room. Both showed me for the first time what stereo can do.
In the end I still remain more of a musician than a gear head. I don't need or want super high-end stuff -- I just want to enjoy the music. Still, I do have two pair of Bevs now.