Same experience with the JBL. Completely changed my direction as an audiophile.A big wow for me was using powered JBL LSR305 speakers. About $300 for the pair at the time. Add any of the good $200 or less DACs or DAC/Pre or audio recording interfaces and you have damn good sound. It has its deficiencies, but what it does was eye opening versus other gear at the time. The improved Mk II version can be had for $258 the pair now. I purchased some for monitor speakers to use in recording, but they were far better than I expected. I took them around to audiophile friends who had very expensive systems. They didn't better those, but all who heard them were left shaking their heads at how good they were for so cheap.
Catch some on a bit of a sale and you'd have money left over for a good enough DAC and some of the even more surprising LSR308's. Complete system for $500 that could not be touched not so long ago for even thrice the money. Hearing these two were part of my experience that convinced me Harman's speaker guidelines were really onto something.