I can't say why, but one thing is clear to me. Audiophiles grunt and groan on and on about how music is the thing, and the fact is, there are far more music lovers who are not audiophiles than who are, regardless of their budgets and sound systems.
Music love does not demand, or even much repay, high end audio. This hobby fetichizes equipment and n-th degree of perceived sonic (not musical) improvement. That does not mean it is not cool and worthwhile, but it does mean that you should expect it to be for esoteric geeks, and should not be surprised when music lovers find us wierd, and to miss the point. Which we is, and we do. Or rather, given how most audiophile package their osession, it looks like we do.
I'm a wine lover, and I can attest that the difference in how good the wine is, between mediocre and really good wine, is huge, just as the difference between how good the difference in sound between mediocre and really good systems is huge. But the difference between how good the music is from the mediocre and really good systems is not very big. But there are similar kinds of excess is wine connoiseurship too, where rarity, pedigree, cachet, prestige, and esoterica are what is really the driving force, but how good the taste of the wine is is given as a lame excuse for all the fuss. There's another relevant parallel too. Wine in wine for wine's sake often gets ripped out of its context (the meal)and placed into another (the tasting, or on its own) in order to show itself off, just as audio in audio for audio's sake get ripped out of its basic context (listening to music)and put into another (listening to this or that particularly well engineered and produced recording, perhaps just a few bars of it, and/or in rapid a/b with some other component of recording), in order to show itself off.
If it's music you like, then the extra money and attention are geeky distractions. Not so if what you love is audio. But audiophiles pretend its about music. That's not to say they don't love music, or justify their each next excess on musical grounds; but the moving point is hi fi, not the music that moves one.
Compare watches. No watch collector would for a moment justify their time and money expenditure by citing how well their beloved possessions keep time. But audiophiles use the rhetoric of fidelity to *the music*, when it's really mostly about high end sound, which is a different, and I insist, lovely matter. But it's not the same as music. There's a reason musicians rarely have high end, big bucks systems. They here tunes, phrasings, rythms, passion. Audiophiles hear whether this speaker is more plangent than that, whether this amp has more slam than the other, or whether this turntable support gives greater imaging (a total audiophile/recording artifact) than this other one.
Don't misunderstand me. I love the audiophile set of aesthetic concerns. But don't confuse them with musical virtues. Those are available on just about any damned playback system in just about any format, as those of you who fell in love with music to trasistor radios, 8 tracks, early CDs or Ipods can attest.