A friend of mine has an entry level surround system from Richer Sounds - it's an Onkyo (or something like that). It's satisfactory, he thinks it's amazing.
I've told him that buying more expensive speaker cable is stupid as it won't improve the sound, am I right?
Also, does it ever make sense to upgrade speaker cables?
Clearly this thread is not the place for straight answers, but I shall plough on regardless.
Basically, every part of a hi-fi system makes the sound worse; the trick is to minimise the degradation.
Back in the olden days, the thinking was "Big speakers = better sound". Then along came the likes of Linn, who said "It's all about the front end. If you lose the good sound to start with, you'll never get it back. On a separate note, we have a fantastic turntable which we'll sell you for an awful lot of money."
As someone pointed out, on a Binatone system from Argos, circa 1978, you could hook the speakers up with oxygen free cable coated in unicorn skin, and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. On a higher end system, yes, it might. I did upgrade my speaker cable once, but that was partly because I wanted a longer run of cable.
You can sit and tweak elements of a system until the cows come home, and convince yourself that spending £300 on a single, 0.5m metal-free cable is worth it (been there, done that), but at the end of the day, the only question you need to ask yourself is : 'Do I enjoy using it?'
You shouldn't be listening to 'the hi-fi', you should be listening the music. When you're more worried about the state of the gold plating on your connectors than whether the new album by The Teen Wombat Collective is the greatest thing since Nevermind, then your priorities have got a bit skewed.