Big boxen big bucks
For me my 1972 KEF speakers beat anything modern, probably because its what I'm used to after 40 years. I recall back in the late 80s one 'audophile' mate groaning that I didn't have a CD player and one day came round to give me his old one. A few weeks later he was round and some music was playing and he said "See how much betterCD is!" What was playing was some 8 yo vinyl. A couple of years ago I was looking to bring the KEFs back into use having been persuaded to put them in the attic and try modern gear. I looked about for a solution and got amplification suggestions ranging in the several $100, a sound engineer relative recommended Classe http://www.martinshifi.co.uk/brand/4/classe/
Someone else said you can always extract money from people with big box and recommended another solution. A few weeks later the relative came over and said "Nice sound but where is the Amp" the rest of the weekend he stared at the thing and muttered but ... but ... but... but
as the other guy said (Trent Reznor has one of his guitar amps) the technology that went into computers in the last 40 years also went into audio.