What was your first 'hi-end' system?

Late 1980's-

Magnepan SMGa
Adcom GFA-545
Adcom GTP-500II
Thorens TD-166 Mk. IV
Shure V15 Type 5 MR
Technics CD player, model unknown

Within 3 years that morphed into the following

Magnepan MG2.6R
Bryston 4B
Bryston .5B
Rega Planar 3
Linn K9
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Back in early 1970s -- Crown IC-150 preamp; Crown DC 300 amp; Infinity 2000a speakers with ESL tweets; Thorens TD 160 Mk II table and $80 Ortofon cartridge; hardware store lamp wire for the amp/speaker connects.

This was a good system in the day. I recall that the 2000a speakers were on J Gordon Holt's Class B list for speakers. I'm pretty sure J Gordon was a fan of the Crown gear too.

Fast forward funny story. I set my kid up with a small stereo rig for his apartment. Rega R-5 speakers (about $1000/pair); Crown DC 300A factory reconditioned amp and my first ARC SP-9 Mk I preamp.

The SP-9 has been at a local ARC service station for a check-up and for preventative replacment of some caps and resisters for a week or so. I lent my son my Crown IC-150 pre to use while the SP-9 was getting spit-polished. He reported back that his little rig sounds like he's got a sock stuffed in his ears. I guess that says something about the ARC SP-9.

Well ... just picked up the SP-9 today. Looks good. It'll be interesting to know whether my son can really tell the difference.
My first hi-end system was in the early 80's and I didn't know what to do with it. An older neighbor with family problems very unexpectedly brought over a McIntosh C-22 preamp, MR-71 tuner, a Dyna Mk 2 amp, and a Thorens TD-124 TT w/SME tonearm all in pristine quality. (He had a pr of Marantz 9's still in the house that he didn't grab) He had boxes to all this stuff but didn't have time to box it all up. Instead, the IC's were hanging out of all the gear like he just unplugged it. He said use it, enjoy it, I'll be back in 6 months, maybe a year, maybe never to get it back from you...

I didn't even know what tube equipment was as I had a HK 330C receiver, Dual 1225 TT and Advent speakers. I plugged in all his stuff and turned it all on. Didn't know you had to let tube gear warm up.

1st Impression: What's wrong with this stuff? The music doesn't even come on when you turn the power on.

2nd Impression: This stuff sounds like crap (I expected it to sound great in the first 5 seconds after it was on)

3rd Impression: (after 10 minutes) This stuff runs so hot, I'm going to burn my house down.

...so I unplugged it and never used it again....how dumb was I? Don't answer that :)
Apt Holman Pre, Acoustat TNT-120, larger Maggies.....heaven in the 80's. 70's was not bad with Nikko Pre, Mistubishi Power, and small Maggies.
First attempt was an all Lafayette system with integrated amp, tuner, and Heil AMT speakers.

Second attempt shortly after was a Hitachi Class G receiver, Philips 312 table, Aiwa ad6550 cassette deck, and OHM L speakers (which I still own). The Class G Hitachi was very nice in many ways but the weak link sonically. AN upgrade to a Tandberg TR2080 a few years later set things up nicely at last.
When I purchased my Oracle Delphi Mk I turntable, I knew that I had arrived.