As you get better equipment, you find that the limiting factor is the quality of the recordings. If you like jaz and chamber music, there are some great quality recordings produced by genuine enthusiasts.
If, like me, you listen to a wide variety of rock, pop and all sorts you find that the quality of the recordings is very patchy, varying from excellent to barely listenable. Some recordings don't sound any better on a £100,000 uber system than they do on a ghetto blaster. You could argue that a better set-up only serves to highlight the shortcommings of some poor recordings.
Then you have the whole excessive compression and clipping issues introduced in an attempt to make CDs sound louder which can totally ruin a recording that might otherwise have sounded pretty good.
It's for these reasons that I chose a system to play music
really well, rather than the Hi Fi stuff. I'm a bit of jazz-head and musician and totally passionate about music so I want it to convey the timing, expression and emotion of the musicians more than doing 'great bass, extended highs, soundstaging or other over hyped notions of 'good sound'
Quite often with a poor recording I'm thinking, ''god, the system sounds shite
, but the band sound awesome!'' - the recording sounds tinny, grainy, distant and colourless - but the band are tight and all the inflections and phrasings are conveyed emotionally.
Although this would seem a priority in 'music reproduction' it doesn't have much to do with a lot of modern Hi Fi (esp at the high-end), which produces an impressive sonic experience at the expense of raw musical connection.
..In many ways, high resolution, pristine-clarity, detail and seperation are the worst things to have happened to Hi Fi recently; they've deconstructed the music and killed its message. We should listen to the real world around us - nothing sounds like that!