Jim (jhills)...you and erik_squires illustrate important points, giving this topic added merit. We are indeed the sum of OUR experiences and knowledge which motivated me to post from a "hands-on," experienced position. Setting up my familiar system in my untamed studio 20 years ago, I thought my sound was just okay from what I knew, Back Then. Having great passion despite a small audio budget, I began to study, later joining a very active "Audio Asylum" chatroom, befriending professional audio & DIYers along the way, remaining close to several. These connections, as budget and knowledge grew, allowed me to steadily improve my system over two decades, incrementally.
Jim questions how one individual can continue to make claims of gross improvements, time and time again, which would imply that the original sound must have been horrid. I guess I'm that guy. I thought my system sounded pretty good before bringing it into a 10'x10'x7 1/2' room, changing everything! Elements of my journey can be found in my posts, but rest assured there were many "aha" moments in this tiny, dedicated studio that warranted exclamations. Claims that would justifiably concern Jim and Erik. The vast range of layers of improvement possible in audio over time is enormous, really. These improvements have kept journals and new products alive 7 decades. They certainly are what keep my juices flowing and wanting more.
Today, laser optical cartridges show great promise, for example. Loudspeaker design, materials and amplification; room tuning progress to include speaker/room matching, (vital); solutions to noise created by active electronics; continuing digital to analog progress and DSP. These are all being explored and improved upon in real time. And, yes, reviewers will get excited and hear things anew, playing their old favorites. Let it Be.
Thanks again Guys, for the opportunity. More Peace, Pin