Thank you for the most informative response.
I had been thinking of visiting a good audio store as you suggest. I mostly listen to vocal music, both songs and opera and to chamber music and baroque. I am not really a symphony listener jade
, and I am afraid the huge works of the late 19thC, Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, etc., leave me cold. It is important to me to be able clearly to hear the entire range of the human voice, from coloratura soprano, to all the overtones of voices like Pavarotti and Florez, to the gravelly notes of Christoph. I am finding that while my budget set from Walmart, Sony from abour 1995, is acceptable if not excellent in the middle range, I am not hearing high or low very well. Bass-baritone voices (think Louis Armstrong, or Boris Christoph) all tend to sound alike, for example.
Also, for baroque music listening, and I am an enthusiast for that period, it is important to distinguish the different instruments used. Baroque composers did not compose for huge orchestras, so I would not want a wall of sound effect. My second favorite part of the classical repertoire is opera of the bel canto period, so I need clearly to be able to hear all the vocal ornaments, purotechniques, shadings used by singers in that repertoire, as well as the orchestral accompaniment. (Don't get me started on how Verdian singers should stick to Verdi and similar repertoire and not attempt Rossini!)
I do appreciate "the lecture". I have been reading online that one should start with the speakers, and work back from them. It did sound somewhat counterintuitive, so I am glad to have my intuition confirmed.
Linn turntables are available on ebay for around $US1000. How important are cables and other connectors? I gather that any old cable from the 99cents store will not do?