Although it wasn't always so, the last few decades have taught me that a person can still be an audiophile, regardless of the expenditure made. By doing some research, and it doesn't have to be in depth or take months and months, it is actually quite easy to assemble a rig that lets you hear your prized music collection in full glory. I know I can confidently say that if Steve or Mike or Gary had an opportunity to listen to my setup they would be pleasantly surprised at its level of performance for the little amount I have invested, provided they listened to MY system without comparison to theirs. And that is a key point to remember.
I could say (because they are only words) that my $5,000 investment sounds better than some $10,000 investments, but I won't as I quite frankly don't care if it does or doesn't. What I do care about is the enjoyment I get from it and the satisfaction in knowing that I've assembled something to be proud of. There is no doubt that hearing Neil Young - Massey Hall 1971 on Mike's system would be amazing, and maybe even revelatory, but I wouldn't come home and now appreciate this recording any less.
In addition to my meagre investment I have tried as best as I can to tweak where I can tweak with placement, room treatments, vibration/isolation and the like. Hanging wall-to-wall curtains behind the system, adding a throw-rug, creating some DIY vibration/isolation devices, inexpensive foam sidewall treatments, and a sturdy component stand have all helped to maximize my investment.
From a component perspective, I also think I made some solid choices. The Pioneer SA-9500II is a kick-ass Integrated unit with plenty of power for a small room (11x10). I can grow with this by adding a power amp or preamp should I have the good fortune to afford a step up in the chain. My Nottingham Analogue Horizon SE is fully upgradeable, so if wanted an upgrade on the vinyl side I could so. Those were considerations when I bought them.
While it would be nice to afford a true audiophile system, and I hope (in complete honesty) that one day I may be blessed in acquiring such a thing, my system gives me great pleasure and there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting back in my comfy leather listening chair and hearing the magic that is music!