The January 2013 Stereophile e-mail newsletter featured an interesting reprint of a 1994 article titled "R.I.P. High-End Audio?" The reprint generated interesting discussion, and I found one post in particular raising an interesting point.
"The article suggests there is some public good to spreading the high-end. I'd like it first shown that someone is happier listening to music on $20 speakers than 'mid-end' $2k speakers. I mean empirical evidence - hook up blindfolded listens to brain scanners and measure their neurotransmitter levels. If there were a correlation between musical enjoyment and price beyond a certain point I'd have expected my musician and conductor friends to own better stereos than they do."
A few points raised there. Does a more expensive system (a nicely set up, moderate system vs. a significantly more expensive system) indeed elevate the level of musical enjoyment? It would be very interesting to compare owners of all-out assault systems with average audiophiles who can't wait to fire up their systems on a Friday night to get themselves immersed in music. I believe I myself would in fact enjoy the music more if able to afford a more expensive system, even though my modest system has given me extreme enjoyment. But who knows...
And then, yes, why does the audiophile community feature relatively so few musicians? I must say this argument is actually not very convincing to me. The underlying assumption is that any given trade professional would necessarily strive to replicate or pursue the same standards or level of performance in his private life, which I think is a fallacy. Does a fancy restaurant chef have to always eat gourmet food at his home to enjoy it? Does a fashion designer have to always wear designer clothes lest they show high fashion is a sham?
I sold auto parts all my life. I called on many automobile repairmen. The last thing they wanted to do was work on their own vehicle. Musicians probable realize that they can not reproduce music that is equivalent to live so why go to the trouble or expense.
Wow! For the second time this week, I am in complete agreement with Elizabeth. Even if it could be objectively proven that the more expensive system sounded better to some listeners than the cheaper one, it means nothing. I am in jewelry and watch sales, and there are customers who become bored with an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak tourbillon (expensive) within a year, while another is still thrilled and enjoying his Tag Heuer Formula 1 (modestly priced) eight years after he bought it. In other words, even if "quality" could be objectified, it doesn't matter. What matters is the attitude of the customer, or in this case, the listener.
I remember the first time I heard Adele sing "Chasing Pavements"' or Melody Gardot "Baby I'm a Fool" I was wearing ear buds. I was so emotionally excited and happy. I was like "Dam'n'" these girls can sing. I went and bought the CDs.
Of course it sounds different on the home system better may be a word to describe it as well, but both systems regardless of the level of sophistication.......moved me. If a humble system can do that then why are we talking about this?
For me, it is about the musical/emotional attachment, not the equipment.
Actusreus you say Why does the audiophile community feature so few musicians in this hobby, put that question to them , I think a common answer would be they have better things to spend their money on.
And finally, the ultra expense of any given componet has nothing to do with any realism of playback performance despite what the audio media including others preach, learn to listen on your own.
Elizabeth The entire premise of the op's comments are useless. Who cares? The idea I am supposed to give a damn what some other fool besides myself does with their money is a waste of time. Same could be said for ANY item at all. Cars,watches, golf clubs, clothes, you name it. So what if there is no correlation between money spent and enjoyment? It is all relative, and has little to do with price, money spent at all. Some kid with an old stick playing in a park can be happier than some other kid with his expensive toy anytime. It does not invalidate toys! Maybe the op needs to sell his stereo and invest in a small $29 radio for his music....
You mean the person who commented on the article? He's not the OP...
The question I posed is whether, at least theoretically, there should be an increase in enjoyment between listening to music on a very expensive equipment vs. modestly priced one. It's not about how people spend their money, or why. However, I do think that the analogy between audio equipment and other luxury items is rather faulty. Watches, jewelry, even cars, are more of a status symbol than passion, at least for most. Certainly, many rich people have mega-buck systems as status symbols as well, but I'm talking about audiophiles who actually listen to music on their systems and feel passionate about it. Do they enjoy the music more than they did when they listened to the same record thousands of dollars earlier, for example? I think it's an interesting question.
What a stupid, blanket assessment. You just lost all credibility in this discussion.
Said a watch/jewelry salesman...Ok...
First of all, relax. I simply posed a question in my first post, but of course some have taken it in a completely different direction, as often happens here.
There are many people who would agree with me that expensive jewelry, watches and cars are predominantly status symbols and people who obtain them do not feel "passionate" about these items the same way audiophiles feel about their systems that they might have spent years to assemble with great care and effort, even if they are people of great means. Mike Lavigne converted a barn into a dream-come-true listening experience, but it took a lot of work and time. Fume all you want, but walking into a jeweler and buying a Rolex is not the same thing. The way luxury items are marketed only proves my point. In fact, many suggest that, if there is such a thing as decline or death of the high-end, it is partly due to the fact that audio industry has never marketed its products as status symbols like the high-end watch or jewelry makers have always done.
"In fact, many suggest that, if there is such a thing as decline or death of the high-end, it is partly due to the fact that audio industry has never marketed its products as status symbols like the high-end watch or jewelry makers have always done. "
When you make the "many suggest...." comment, where are you getting that info from? Can you show me where I can find an example of someone saying this?
One buys music to listen to their equipment. and the other buys equipment to listen to music.
They both exist, always have, always will.
I'd think most musicians are really just paying attention to the music. I've have recording artist/friends that enjoy my system and in conversation say how good it sounds but they don't feel the need to have anything like it. Maybe others do. Neil Young has been vocal about vinyl sounding better than digital and now he is championing better hi-rez downloading so you can't lump everyone together.
For me: I love music and I've been fortunate in being able to afford some nice equipment but I only bought when it would cause me to enjoy the music even more.
Case in point, and the subject of this thread, is a recent finding that I have a soft spot, aka love, for vintage equipment. I have a dedicated vintage room that cost a fraction of what my other system(s) cost yet I find myself some months spending more time in there. I could analyze how much better the big system is but I'd rather just enjoy the music.
That's the story. I now return you to your regular scheduled argument, umm, discussion. :-)
Zd542 "In fact, many suggest that, if there is such a thing as decline or death of the high-end, it is partly due to the fact that audio industry has never marketed its products as status symbols like the high-end watch or jewelry makers have always done. "
When you make the "many suggest...." comment, where are you getting that info from? Can you show me where I can find an example of someone saying this?
http://www.stereophile.com/content/rip-high-end-audio There are several pages of discussion after the article, but I'm not sure why you find this controversial. Open any fashion or any magazine targeting middle and upper class, and you'll see multitude of ads for luxury items such as watches or jewelry. The luxury goods industry routinely utilizes celebrities and tv commercials filled with grand life imagery slotted carefully to market its products to the able public. They are selling an image and status first and foremost, not the product. Is this really news?
In_shore Actusreus you say Why does the audiophile community feature so few musicians in this hobby, put that question to them , I think a common answer would be they have better things to spend their money on.
And what would those things be? We all have "better" things to spend money on - family, health, necessities. The answer is probably that they listen to music for a living so it's possible that they might not want to spend hours upon hours listening to more music when they get home, just like chefs probably don't want to cook and eat fancy dinners when they get home from work, or carpenters do not necessarily have to surround themselves with exquisite woodwork. But I would very much like to hear from musicians (but how if they are not audiophiles?), or those who have musician friends and can shed some light on the issue.
It seems these types of discussions invariably drift toward the debate of money spent vs. enjoyment, which is not the question I posed. The issue of whether you need to spend a fortune to enjoy your favorite music has been beaten to death and obviously the answer is you don't. However, as much as music has always been a big part of my life, I never enjoyed it as much as I have since I've assembled my modest system with a turntable at its center. And the post quoted in my original post made me wonder whether we in fact do enjoy the music ever more and more as we move up the price/quality ladder. The person quoted didn't think so, but I'm not so sure based on my experience. I'd simply like to hear what others think based upon their experience as they upgraded their equipment over the years. I'm not looking for a debate.
Actusreus, Whether the object is cars, speakers, jewelry or watches, I still strongly disagree. There are those who purchase purely for status, but there are also many well heeled and dedicated collectors of luxury items who respect and appreciate them for the works of art that they are. The same applies to audio. The love of music, and the appreciation of the performance, as well as the aesthetic beauty of the components are not mutually exclusive.
"And what would those things be? We all have "better" things to spend money on - family, health, necessities. The answer is probably that they listen to music for a living so it's possible that they might not want to spend hours upon hours listening to more music when they get home, just like chefs probably don't want to cook and eat fancy dinners when they get home from work, or carpenters do not necessarily have to surround themselves with exquisite woodwork. But I would very much like to hear from musicians (but how if they are not audiophiles?), or those who have musician friends and can shed some light on the issue. "
2 Things. Musicians, like most people, don't know that high end audio exists. Even if they did, musicians overall, don't make a lot of money. I don't see what difference it makes if an audiophile is a musician or not. Also, the article on the death of high end audio is almost 20 years old. Maybe Stereophile was wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
When I was a kid, before the advent of the credit card, if someone bought something expensive like a nice car or stereo, others might say they were buying it to "show off", never considering that the person might actually enjoy owning the product, even if nobody else knew. With the advent of easy credit, nearly everyone can own a nice car or nice hifi, so I don't really see the status argument flying anymore. Take a look at how many people are driving 50K+ E-Class Mercedes. Are you impressed? As to the issue of whether spending more = more enjoyment in terms of hifi. Spending more can make things better or worse, depending on how you go about it. Spending more on mismatched components and speakers that won't work in your room is a downgrade. BUT, in my experience, careful selection of better components that have been matched to my system, my room and my tastes have always allowed me to enjoy the music more. It has nothing particularly to do with the music per-se. Great music is great music. It's more like listening to great music in a so-so hall or great music in a hall with beautiful acoustics. I think most everyone would choose the latter, assuming they can hear at all - which you should never assume. Had to throw that in :)
That there aren't musicians who are also audiophiles is a myth; that they "don't know that the high-end exists" is an even bigger myth. This notion keeps coming up time and again, and is completely false. Consider how many people in the general population are audiophiles; a very small percentage. There are far more audiophiles within the community of musicians, as a percentage of that population, than there are audiophiles in the general population; and while probably not to be considered "high-end", the vast majority of musicians have playback gear that is infinitely better than what the average non-musician owns. Now, some would expect most (if not all) musicians to be dedicated audiophiles. Clearly, this is not the case, and there are various reasons why some (many?) musicians are not interested; the main reason is related to the OP's basic premise:
One of the very reasons that draws many (not all) audiophiles to the hobby is one the reasons that many musicians are not interested in the hobby. Not because these musicians think that there is anything wrong with this, but because they already have, in their craft, an outlet for that particular need; the need to constantly improve, to tweak, to achieve perfection. Anyone who thinks that audiophiles are compulsive in their quest for perfection and obsession with equipment, would be shocked at the fact that this level of obsession is nothing compared to what musicians go through in the quest for just the right guitar, strings, horn, mouthpiece, reed, etc.; and the setup of these. There are only so many hours ($) in the day.
If there is a correlation between the quality of the equipment and the level of musical enjoyment, it is dependent on the individual's personality. In other words, some listeners are able to appreciate music to it's fullest on the most humble systems and, in fact, find the complexity or even the visual impact of an expensive system to be a distraction from that enjoyment. Some of us like the process and technical aspects of assembling a complex system and optimizing it, and that process maximizes the listening experience. For those of us a better system does, in fact, heighten the listening experience; up to a point, since it can be a bit of a catch-22. It takes work and effort to assemble and maintain a great system, and it can easily go from being enjoyable effort in the service of the music to being an obsession of the kind that takes away from the musical enjoyment. IMO, although I am not prepared to give up my expensive audio toys anytime soon, there is value in remembering that, at the end of the day, they are NOT absolutely necessary for the enjoyment of the music.
"That there aren't musicians who are also audiophiles is a myth; that they "don't know that the high-end exists" is an even bigger myth. This notion keeps coming up time and again, and is completely false. Consider how many people in the general population are audiophiles; a very small percentage. There are far more audiophiles within the community of musicians, as a percentage of that population, than there are audiophiles in the general population; and while probably not to be considered "high-end", the vast majority of musicians have playback gear that is infinitely better than what the average non-musician owns."
I'm not saying you are wrong but I have no idea where you get that info from. I know plenty of musicians and I don't know 1 that has any idea what high end audio is. They seem to have more of a pro sound mentality when it comes to audio. I can only go by my own experience, though, because, as far as I know, there are no stats that can give us any indication as to what type of audio systems musicians have. My best guess would be that musicians get into high end audio the same way regular people do, myself included; by accident. You either wander into a store that sells high end gear or see it in someones home.
I haven't done one because I don't feel what a person owns gives his opinion any more worth "in general". From time to time when it's relevant, I mention what I own and have direct experience with so the person knows I'm not just giving an opinion on something I've "read" about.
But I see your point here because of the contrast between "$$$ vs music enjoyment".
So from the minimum $$$/Vintage: Marantz 18,19,2270 (rotate them in) driving custom designed components inside Altec Valencia cabinets. Cost...300 to 700 depending on receiver.
To the max $$$: CJ ART 3>Pass XA100.5's>Maggie 3.6's with custom x/o's. Cost...over 40K not including sources.
No question about my high $ sounding more like the real thing. I just don't need it to enjoy an evening of music "even more".
Actusreus, your original question regarding "empirical" evidence for evaluating the quality of a subjective experience seems based on a peculiar understanding of reality. How can one "prove" the quality of a subjective experience? To suggest that there is some scientifically valid neurological scan that can divine the heights of aesthetic experience a subject is experiencing is the stuff of science fiction at best. Sure, we've all seen the "science for the layman" Discovery Channel documentaries showing how this or that area of the brain lights up to more or less greater degrees when we look at a picture of loved one vs. any other pretty face, etc. but this seems a far cry from what you suggest. Often questions like this seem rooted in some hope that we're really not missing out on something those with greater financial means may be enjoying. Unfortunately, we'll never know. That person with greater means may be a musically illiterate tin ear (unlikely if they chose to spend $$$ on high end) or they may be possessed with the ear of a skillful conductor. We'll just have to learn to live with the fact that somebody out there is always enjoying better audio, faster cars, tastier wine, and more beautiful women than we are.
Yes, thank you for an excellent response, Frogman.
Photon, Please note that the idea of an empirical test to determine increased enjoyment was not mine. The post I quoted in my original post simply made me wonder whether subjectively we in fact enjoy music/sound more as we go up in the level of playback. I do not know whether you can ascertain by monitoring brain activity whether a subject is enjoying one stimulus more than another, but with the technology available today I would actually not be surprised if in fact it would be possible to do just that. Insofar as I would find such an experiment fascinating, that is not what I'm proposing. What I'm talking about is a subjective evaluation of your own audiophile experience. As I mentioned, I definitely enjoy music more through my high-end system than I did when I listened through a decent CD-based system. I expect now that my enjoyment would be increased even more if I was able to improve my listening environment, buy a better turntable, tonearm, etc., which is the opposite of what the poster quoted maintained. I'd expect it to be the majority's experience, but there are some posts in this thread that suggest otherwise. Good discussion, though. Thank you for your input.
Zd542, if you take a loser look at our respective comments I think you will note that we are, actually, in agreement. I have a strong suspicion that when you refer to musicians you are referring to musicians in the pop or rock genre; musicians who use "pro-sound" equipment as part of their arsenal. Additionally, I would define "music lover" as someone who either purchases music on a somewhat regular basis or who spends a substantial amount of time listening to the radio or attending concerts; as opposed to (as incredible as it may seem) the majority of our population for who listening to (hearing) music is something that happens only by accident at restaurants, elevators, etc., and who, at best, own a boom box or similar for their music playback. So, by that standard, the musician who uses pro-sound gear could almost be considered an audiophile. I think we can agree that most pro-sound gear is infinitely better than your typical Walmart boom box.
****I have no idea where you get that info from. I know plenty of musicians and I don't know 1 that has any idea what high end audio is****
About two hours ago I got home from a performance with a twenty six piece orchestra in an acoustic setting. To my right was a reed player who has a system comprised of BAT electronics, VPI tt, and Gallo speakers. Behind me was a trumpet player who owns Totems and Rotel, the bass player listens on Thiels driven by Levinson amps, on the other side of the stage was a cellist whose saxophone playing husband I helped to assemble a system around Magnepans, and the conductor owns Quads driven by Adcom (!) (believe me I have tried, but he won't listen to me :-). At least four other players own decent gear along the lines of Adcom, Cambridge, and B&W. The others, I have no idea; but if experience is any dictation, it is unlikely they listen on boom boxes.
"Additionally, I would define "music lover" as someone who either purchases music on a somewhat regular basis or who spends a substantial amount of time listening to the radio or attending concerts; as opposed to (as incredible as it may seem) the majority of our population for who listening to (hearing) music is something that happens only by accident at restaurants, elevators, etc., and who, at best, own a boom box or similar for their music playback."
I didn't mean to suggest that people listen to music by accident. I was only saying that most people get into high end audio by accident. Very few people really know what type of equipment is out there beyond popular stores like Best Buy, etc. Weather someone enjoys music is another matter entirely. I don't think thats equipment dependant. The experience may change with the type of gear you have but the reason for listening, I believe, remains the same.
I'm not sure what to make of your 2nd paragraph. It looks like you may have a point. Is it possible that the type of musician (Classical in your example), has an effect on weather someone becomes an audiophile or not? It seems like most audiophiles do seem to enjoy listening to classical music to some degree; probably much more than the average person. Maybe thats not by chance.
I was just in Vienna listening to opera and was fortunate to be introduced to a few of the musicians. Some are audiophiles who listen to turntables and love to collect LPs while others couldn't care less about listening to an audio system. They did seem to have one thing in common though: They all appreciate the fact that there are audiophiles and music lovers out there who appreciate good music. They also appreciate that we care about listening to and buying recorded music and that we care about the quality of the recording and the quality of the performance.
The public in general does not buy and collect hard copies of recordings the way they used to in the 50s and 60s and this is having an impact on the revenue of these big orchestras. They record less, so they must tour more.
I happen to enjoy listening to music more as my system improves. I remember when I used to read while listening to my system. Now I just listen. I used to hear the system, now I listen to the performance and want to learn more about music. I'm also not upgrading components the way I used to. I'm even considering moving my virtual system to the "Done for Now" section. I certainly enjoy listening more now, though I don't know if that is just because my system has gotten better and it costs more. I don't know for sure, and I don't really care. For me, it's more and more about the music.
"I'm also not upgrading components the way I used to. I'm even considering moving my virtual system to the "Done for Now" section. I certainly enjoy listening more now, though I don't know if that is just because my system has gotten better and it costs more. I don't know for sure, and I don't really care. For me, it's more and more about the music."
I read your post and had a look at your system. I see 2 big things that I believe you are getting right. First is your system matching. Not only are your components excellent pieces by themselves, they are very well matched to each other. No corners were cut. Its easy to see that you gave equal consideration to all of your components. Second is your attitude to music and your system. As good as your system is, you seem to understand that no system is perfect and don't have any unrealistic expectations to what it should or can do. That's what really allows you to enjoy it. Well done.
Thanks for your observation, Zd542. You are right, I have no illusions about the limitations of our audio systems. I do enjoy my evening listening sessions with friends. My time spent listening to live orchestras has served as a reference guide and has helped me to improve my system. It is a real joy.
I'd like to add to my post above about musicians in Vienna being audiophiles: Nine (9) members of the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera own SME turntables. They own the relatively less expensive Model 10, the moderately priced Model 20 and the expensive Model 30. Regardless of the money spent, I'm pretty sure they all get a lot of musical enjoyment out of their systems. They collect records, listen to vinyl and obviously love playing and listening to music. Interestingly, not one of them reports any pitch/speed issues with these belt-drive turntables. And they all know what real music sounds like.
Pete, your comments corroborate what I was saying. Now, let's take the number of members of the Vienna State Opera that own high quality gear (not just SME tt's), and as a percentage of the total number of players in that orchestra, compare that percentage to that of music-listening members of the general population who also own high quality gear. The percentage of musician audiophiles will be infinitely higher. That musicinas don't know about quality stereo IS NOT TRUE.
Many in this hobby would be surprised what a musician , A musician that many around the Globe would instantly recognize their name listens to at home and this includes many within his musician / singer circle of friends,For the most part the High End is a joke, that is how he feels.
Syntax hahha thats close, at least the MP3 keeps pitch intact , all that music you can carry around in your pocket anywhere you go, why not.
Frogman: I concur with your comments. It seems that as I found in another thread: "How big is your matrix - how we bias or enjoyment" we have a concurrence trend in the making.
I only know two professional musicians. Both play in symphonies and enjoy high-end playback. And one is the owner of my local go-to, high-end audio store.
The questions of who enjoys high end playback and why, are interesting ones. There obviously is no 1 answer.
Ironically, while talking with the audio store owner/musician, he stated that for enjoyment, he never listened to classical, nor Christmas music. Too him, the former represented his business and work and not pleasure, and the latter, he played far too much of, to listen to for pleasure.
So, anecdotal information about musicians and the high-end, is just that! It doesnt mean or prove anything to me. Its sorta like the discussion of why we audiophiles, are what we are? That is, why as a group do we chase better musical reproduction and others who may like music as much as we do, dont go in our direction? I have a close friend who loves music as much, if not more, than I do. However spending 100s, let alone 1,000s of dollars on music reproduction is abhorrent to him. Why, I really dont know. Ive given up trying to answer that conundrum. I only know that for me, music, and the highly resolved reproduction of same, is a passion one that makes me happy, so I go with it.
The cost of my system components has risen as I have aged due to a greater disposable income. Am I enjoying music and my system more now than decades ago? Yes and no.
As I went kicking and screaming (because of the cost) down the upgrade path over the years, I was brought more into the performance and closer to the performer and those are good things. But even when I was a youngster experimenting with crystal radios, and throwing drivers in card board boxes, it has always been pleasurable listening to the music. I just simply wanted it to sound better. I venture to guess that most all of us are on this forum because of that.
When I first stepped-up from more consumer oriented pre-amplifiers and amplifiers to fairly high dollar ones, instruments sounded more like they really do. The harmonics were better, the rise and decay of notes were more realistic and of course the separation between instruments was better defined and crescendos were less congested. These pluses added to my enjoyment and led me to spend more than I had previously. However, while the playback experience has improved, my love of music has remained just that.
Music is an interesting thing. It brings back memories, and affects our moods. I would be lost without it. But do I need a highly resolved system to enjoy it, no. Do I enjoy music more with a highly resolved system? Yes. Does greater cost, equal more musical enjoyment? In my experience, to a point, yes. But after that (tipping) point is reached, is musical enjoyment better, not so much and no. If as I, youve had the pleasure of living with a highly resolved system, you will know what I mean about the tipping point. One can make far too much ado about very meager improvements simply because we want something better &/or different.
For example, I presently have on-order, new and improved versions of my 11 year old loudspeakers. Will they be better, Im hoping so. Will I enjoy the music better, per se, probably not! However, because Im not getting any younger and MAY not be able to hear the differences, or be around a few years from now, why not get something newer/better. The chase, and different/newer/better is part of the fun of being human so why not enjoy the ride
Thank you for an excellent and highly enjoyable post, Mrmb.
However, while the playback experience has improved, my love of music has remained just that.
I agree with essentially everything you wrote, but would only like to mention that for me personally becoming an audiophile actually opened up new music that I would never have discovered (or at least enjoyed) had I not got to listen to it on a high-end analog system. I have always been in love with music, but the relationship was taken to an entirely different level through high quality playback.
Actusreus: Excellent point about being audiophiles and because of this, being motivated to "taste" new (to us) music! My son and I went to a fellow audiophile's place recently. We only met him a few weeks ago at our local audio shop. Although he owns my speaker types (Soundlabs; and I'm having withdrawal pains until my new ones arrive) one of the main incentives of going, was to listen to some of his favorite, but new (to me) music. That was accomplished, we enjoyed sharing our hobby and I liked what I heard so much that I've already placed an order for some of what he played. So much music, so little time!
Mrmb, indeed an excellent post and thank you for sharing your personal experience. Also to me the major reason I enjoy attending audio meetings is hearing new music and the commaraderie of sharing musical and life experiences with fellow audiophiles driven by, if not always the same taste, our mutual passion of music.
There are thousands of Musicians that simply don't make a shit ton of money.
There are thousands of Musicians who are playing so often they don't have the time to enjoy a higher end system.
There are thousands of Musicians who are around high end systems in studios listening to their raw tracks played back at a phenomenally high fidelity that rarely makes it past post production let alone CDs and LPs.
And finally there are thousands of Musicians who have higher end systems.
As a Musician and despite the recording industries natural ability to suck the fidelity out of most recordings, there are still many performances and some productions that are actually worth listening to.
I can't disagree with your comments; except, perhaps, to temper somewhat the suggestion that there are so many recordings NOT worth listening to because of "the recording industries natural ability to suck the fidelity out of most recordings". IOW, I find that there aren't that many recordings of a GREAT PERFORMANCE that has been made "unlistenable" (not worth listening to) by bad recording/production. I think there is merit in always keeping our delicate audiophile sensibilities subservient to the quality of the music, and not just the sound. But, your point is well taken.
****There are thousands of Musicians who are around high end systems in studios listening to their raw tracks played back at a phenomenally high fidelity that rarely makes it past post production let alone CDs and LPs.****
A comment about this observation (which I also made in an earlier post). Even when the gear that many studios use for playback is not of "audiophile pedigree" (often the case), the "phenomenally high fidelity" heard on raw tracks is often there. The damage done to the performance from both a musical and sonic standpoint, up to that point, is minimal compared to what we hear in the final product. There is an immediacy and sense of aliveness that is startling; even over crappy speakers like the ubiquitous Yamahas. A kick drum over those crappy little speakers can make even a megabuck Wilson sound like it's on Valium (I'm showing my age).
Jazz and blues musicians prefer midfi even when they can afford "high end" because it's less complicated, plus the fact they prefer "live" music to recorded music of any kind, and they always want to be on the set. While it seems that classical musicians definitely prefer the high end, and from what I've seen, always tubes; and the older the better. They also like horn speakers.
People who get the most enjoyment out of music, don't even know the high end exists.
I recall ages ago, (which means I was ages younger) a professional jazz musician and his lady friends lived in my apartment for over 3 months. During that time, we hardly listened to music at the apartment. Most nights I was driving him to different sets, and if there was any down time; he never tired of telling me about his life on the road as a professional jazz musician, and I never got tired of listening.
Although I have every recording he made that I can find, none of them even come close to the music I have inside my head when I was right there on the set.