I’m gob smacked. What were you’re aha moments?

Had a productive couple of weeks on the used gear market and today has been digital demo day (Analog arrives next week). Added a Bryston BCD-3 and original Tara Labs Prime I/C’s to my system at very good prices. 

I don’t have “golden ears” by any stretch but I’m gob smacked at the results.

The BCD-3 is replacing an Oppo UDP-205 w/ DHL BL-1 I/C’s. Rest of gear is an Anthem STR integrated and ML Monti’s. My bass has easily doubled, maybe tripled. I can feel the pressurization in my room and it’s tight not bloated. 

I think this has been the biggest jump up in SQ I’ve experienced. What were your biggest surprises/improvements regardless of budget?

I know the Talisman has a 1000% mark-up but it is worth the $200 I paid for it.  It is more consistent (100%) than my AudioDesk CD lathe/trimmer which I bought used for $200 as well.  I stopped using it because I don't know that it is 100% safe to trim CDs and doesn't consistently improve CD sound.  Plus the AudioDesk is now priced at $1,100 at Music Direct.  How much do you think other tweaks cost versus their value?  Perfect Path, Synergistic Research tweaks probably have huge mark-ups, especially the fuses. 
Price can be determined many ways. Having a monopoly on something or another certainly helps. Or maybe run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. By the way I got my Talisman for $100. 🤗
Moving to a D-Sonic amplifier for my Magnepan .7.  I am running an Aric Audio preamp, the combination is amazing.  Effortless, open, present and holographic.  Maggies need power and more power, current is everything.  They sing now and do what they are so great at.

Hooking up my Lepai amp to my Magneplanars.  Absolutely gobsmaked.  The heavens parted and the entire symphony was transported to my living room.  Other than the fact that it was a little crowded with so many folks there it was just amazing!
Great question.  My first such experience was in 1973 hearing the JBL Paragon speakers with Macintosh tube amplification.  Then a couple of years later hearing a pair of Magnepan speakers. Then 40 years later, Spatial Audio M4 Triode Master speakers.  

Then even more recently:
Don Sachs 6SN7 preamp,
Don Sachs KT88 amp

If you search long enough, you will find audio nirvana!