our listening experiences, however many, do not bring us closer to knowledge regardless of their consistency
Hmm, having experience running sound (which I still do) I'd have to say I depend on the many listening experiences I have had, which has increased my ability (and knowledge) of what constitutes what I believe to be a good performance. I'm also confident in saying there are many audiophiles (as well as other folks with astute hearing) that can immediately pick up not only a bad note but a good one as well. This is not something you just decide to be good at one day. It is a skill, which must be learned by repetition. This is true in other endeavors, which require learning the nuances of a craft. Fine woodworkers, jewelers, and artists...they all spend years refining their trade and keep working at their craft. Why would listening to music be any different? It's a skill one can be very passionate about or one can just be a casual listener but you cannot classify all audiophiles or music enthusiasts or whatever title you want to assign to everybody with such broad generalizations.
I'm sure those who have been to an amplified event have been less than thrilled at the presentation at one time or another. A lot of what the audience hears depends on the soundmans ability. The better he (or she) is at his craft, the better the presentation. Of course, this includes the home stereo, as it too uses an amplifier to produce sound, although the limits are defined by the equipment choices for the most part.
Perhaps the true musical experience can only be had by listening to unamplified instruments that were designed to be listened to just that way but I would venture to say most audiophile listening is done via an amplifier connected to some sort of stereo system.
BTW, the main device I use when I either run sound or listen to a stereo is my ears.
Now that I've said all that, I wonder if I can get a job as an acoustic soundman?