I would submit that the OP is stating something rather obvious to the majority, if not all, the members here.
I doubt anyone here is operating on some simple minded "higher price = better performance" belief. Who among us hasn't had the experience of hearing some very expensive gear at a show, a shop, or somewhere else, that left us totally unimpressed and happier with our less expensive system at home? It's an experience commonly shared among audiophiles.
Most of us decide what we want by giving it a listen. If we like it, and can't find anything we like better cheaper, and we can afford it, we buy it.