First, I took delivery of a shiny new pair of Altec Lansing AHP712i active noise-cancelling headphones. They're not exactly hardcore-audiophile equipment, but for the price ($80) they're definitely worth it. The noise cancellation doesn't catch loud or sharp noises, but it does amazing things to the ambient background noise in my flat (computer fans, central air, etc.) and with some good music going, it creates an absolutely exquisite listening "zone." Combined with the superb comfort of the headphones themselves, this is like a card for "go directly to an ideal thinking environment, do not pass Go, but collect $200 anyways."
Now, this in and of itself is enough to make me a very happy person. Music is a core part of my preferred thinking/working setup. The step up from my cheap no-name knockoff headphones to the Altec Lansings is a hefty one, which makes the music that much better, and the work therefore more enjoyable by extension. All that goodness, though, misses one important area: making loud noises.
Headphones are great, see, for certain things. Like listening to thinking music while working in a high-intensity situation that requires a lot of brain power. However, they have disadvantages - like being stuck to your head, and generally not being powerful enough to shake the floor. They're also slightly inconvenient to share with one's flatmate when trying to watch, say, a nice violent movie.
The solution to this, of course, is speakers. However, as I've lamented before, the amplifier for my 5.1 speakers died several months back. In its stead I've been using my flatmate's weak (but passable) Sharp bookcase stereo system, which does the job in terms of making noise that the whole room can hear, but sort of falls flat in the more subjective and trifling areas like not sounding like a dead cat in a tin can. The bass, in particular, leaves quite a lot to be desired. It's roughly comparable to eating handfuls of sand after one has been raised on veal and caesar salad; you can still get some of the essential vitamins and minerals, but it just isn't a pleasant experience.
To rectify this, I broke down and dropped the cash to replace my amp. I did this by actually buying a complete new 5.1 system at a steep discount, which brought it right into the range I paid for my current (used) system off of eBay. Net result: one shiny, shrinkwrapped new Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1 set. This time, since I'm the original owner, I have a warranty that says I get a free replacement should (God himself forbid) anything go wrong.
So now, in addition to my nice little envelope of listening bliss that is my new headphone set, I have again a working 5.1 system, plus the working satellite speakers and subwoofers from the old system (less the amp). The extra speakers and subs aren't actually useful without the amp, but at least I have them, dammit, and that counts for something.
Tonight there shall be celebration, and it shall be loud. And with lots of bass. Crisp, deep, smooth, rich bass, with creamy bass filling, and a bass glaze. Garnished with bass.