A guy that i had known for years had never heard a "high end" audio system before. I had been to his house a few times for parties and even repaired some gear for him ( Pioneer receiver and Pioneer speakers ), but he had never come by my place.
As far as gear goes, all of his stuff was basically thrown wherever it would fit and treated strictly as a tool to listen to music, much like most people do. As such, he had one speaker up on a desk and the other on the floor. They were aimed "wherever" and the sound was obviously nothing that would ever get me excited. None the less, he was happy with what he had and listened to music for several hours a day every day.
When he finally made it over to my place ( he started dating my girlfriends best friend ), i put on an Ian Anderson disc and told him to have a seat in the sweet spot. I selected a specific track and had him listen to it. On this track, there's a specific part where a ringing bell literally walks across the entire width of the soundstage. Each time the bell rings, you hear the bell strike and decay a few feet away from where it was the last time it sounded. On top of that, the bell retains a specicic height above the floor as it moves from one side to the other, adding to the specific spatial cues that one hears.
When this part of the song came up, i saw his eyes raise up and his back stiffen. Obviously, he had never heard a system that presented both a consistent soundstage with good imaging. As soon as that part of the song passed, he turned and said "how did you do that?". Needless to say, I told him that there is information like that on a lot of different recordings. His response was to say that he had never heard anything like that, not even on headphones. I proceeded to pick out a few other discs that he himself owned and would be familiar with. After seeing that there was quite a bit of music that he owned but had never heard come out of his speakers before, he asked why that was. I told him that it had a lot to do with proper speaker placement and room acoustics.
After explaining a few things to him, we made arrangements for me to stop by and help him get his system dialed in a little better. Quite honestly, there wasn't much to work with, but we were able to get things sounding much better when all was said and done. He now had a much better performing system, but it was still limited to being a Pioneer cd player feeding a Pioneer receiver feeding Pioneer floor-standers.
A very short period of time after that, he ended up upgrading all of his components and speakers. When i asked what made him do that, he told me "my old stuff doesn't sound good anymore". There were a few "friendly cuss words" involved once he took the plunge into better gear, telling me that it was all my fault that he had spent all of his money on a new stereo. He never really got into "audiophilia" as i had hoped, but he does have a decent system that he's quite happy with.
And the moral of this story? The speakers that he heard all of the imaging, soundstage and spatial information come from were a set of modified Klipsch Heresy's being driven by a used $350 SS amplifier. Obviously, horns can image. Whether or not they do is up to the individual design, proper speaker placement / room acoustics and the quality of the signal being fed into them. Sean