Well, you "know" some stuff that's not particularly true, and there's some other important stuff it's not clear you know. Read some more of the threads, especially the stickies.
The most important thing to know is that the speakers, and their placement in the room, make the most difference.
Originally Posted by Beacon11
I know different speakers pair differently with different receivers.
Not really, and not that important. The way the speakers interact with the room is 100 times as important, but few people want to do the work of figuring that out. Or they just want the speakers to be in a certain place.
When I call the local "hifi" stores, they tell me that listening to speaker/receiver combos won't help me since all rooms are different, causing them to sound different.
Your room would be different, but that's ridiculous. Presumably they'll have them set up in a room that makes them sound somewhat like they are intended to, and you can get an idea of what they sound like.
Everything I read about sound systems says to find what you like by listening. How do people listen to systems if this is the attitude of the local sound shops? I'm a little frustrated, and I'd love some advice. I figure I'll have one of the local shops come out see what they say, but I have no intention of buying anything yet. What would YOU do in this situation?
Think about what you need and want - your budget, the space, etc. Look at some of the threads for similar discussions. Start a thread - describe your use, needs and space. Find a couple good speakers, and try them.
A lot of people think it's like test driving a bunch of cars. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. Honestly, at this stage the way you'll learn the most is by listening to a system for a while. There are multiple good options, rather than worrying about which one is the best, work toward finding one setup that meets your needs and budget.