living room as an Audio Laboratory

I am several years from retirement and recently have gotten back in to listening to music.  My living room is small 15' by 15' and I am thinking about turning it into a semi audio laboratory to determine what I would like to have in the future in larger rooms when we retire.  I have been buying open box entry-level equipment in an attempt to get into the hobby in a relatively inexpensive way.  A friend suggested I buy some equipment and use this time in a way to determine what I would like to do in several years.  Purchases have been a Marantz stack, PM 6005 and CD 6005; speakers were NOS Paradigm Studio 20s and stands.  He suggested adding a small floorstander such as a Monitor Audio Silver 6, a small Paradigm 8" sub and a more powerful 75 to 85 wpc integrated amp.  He said by experimenting with different wattage amps, and the floorstanders versus the stand mounts with a sub, would help me learn more about what I like.              Is this a valid way to increase my knowledge without committing big bucks?  thank you!
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You're off to a good start and welcome to the crazy world of home audio.  Can't speak for everyone but most of us started this way. 

As far as increasing your knowledge base without committing to big bucks, I would recommend attending trade shows. You would learn a great deal about components, synergy, cabling, and best of all, interact with folks with oodles of knowledge one on one.  

Alternatively, keep on reading forums here at Audiogon.  

If you can plan ahead, look up RMAF 2016, it's one of the best trade shows to get your juices flowing.  

Good luck! 
It certainly can't hurt, but you'd probably learn more after a 2 day visit to any major audio show. You can buy used gear here and often sell it a few months later at equal to or close to what you paid. If you try lots of gear you will learn. 
The other good way to learn is to join a local audio club if you are fortunate enough to be near one, and then listen to as many members' systems as you can. Listening to a variety of gear in a variety of real listening rooms will teach you plenty, especially when owners tell you their stories of system evolution.
IMHO, you will learn more useful info for the future by reading than by worrying about differences in CD players. They become less relevant daily. Cheers,
I'd suggest you find a good dealer - there are still a few of them around! They can help you prevent purchasing mistakes and can often loan you items to try at home.
You have a solid system now, congrats! Everyone is giving you good advice. Everyone is different, but I tend to buy used, nos, etc. 

A good dealer can help a lot- unfortunately I don't have one due to location. I would fight the feeling to bet all your money on one component or setup until you experiment a little. 

In my opinion there is a lot of great used gear to enjoy and learn from. 

It can be a great hobby!
Sounds like a good plan with a good start.  There's a plethora of nice used equipment 'out there', vintage and not-so 'bleeding edge' to choose from.  Audio shows and dealers are good for expanding your knowledge, but keep your 'hype antenna' engaged.  There seems a lot of it about...

Keep in mind that your 'ultimate' listening space will react differently than your current one.  I'm a big fan of active room correction equalization, which IMHO 'levels the playing field' from one speaker to another.  Speakers one and all have different 'voicing', so I'd concentrate on what and how a particular pair renders what you like to hear and what you're familiar with.

Go forth and have fun.  Don't get too caught up in 'the art of listening' want to listen to music, not How the music gets into the room...IMHO...
You have a great system to start with. Prior to expending dollars, I would take the time to listen to different systems and get an idea of what your sonic preferences are. Ones best system/$$ is that one tuned towards ones own preferences. What you learn will be applicable regardless of room size. For now I would stick with your Marantz integrated and CD player and focus on speakers.

You will learn most by swapping out speakers. Given your current room size and that you have stands I would give a listen to different stand mount speakers that are compatible with your current integrated. You can buy used ones and sell them more easily as shipping costs are reduced. I once owned the paradigm 20s V.4 and liked them very much, however there are so many other good ones in same price bracket offering a different sonic signature. The idea of adding a subwoofer is credible. 

One piece of advice, purchase a copy of Robert Harley's 'The complete Guide to High End Audio', 5th edition. Best $40 you will spend. Can be bought from Music Direct.

I have a very large room in one home (15 x 28 x 11) and a very small one in another (13 x 10 x 8). One can only undo such a small room so much. My best solution is a Netherland product call Zilplex. It is eleven little 1/2" hemispheres that sit on eleven little cradles on your walls. Google that name to find out more.

Frankly, in my small room I could not listen until I added them. They are very unobtrusive.

Yesterday I bought a pair of JSE .6 standmount to rotate with my Silverline Minuets in my bedroom.

Cost was $150 with stands. To me they sound great - outstanding for the money. My girlfriend loves them and sang several songs including all the lyrics to American Pie.

To me, this hobby can be fun and relatively inexpensive if you educate yourself in the forums and keep an eye out. 

I'm sure spending more wisely would result in better sound, but I enjoy going about it this way.