After upgrading my turntable with a really nice tone arm and and subchassis, I played the familiar Jazz at the Pawnshop album, famed, even revered in audiophile circles for the stunning quality of the recording.
I listened, turned to my son (a jazz musician), and said "what do you think?"
"I can hear so much better how off key the bass player is, how bad the . . . . "
I have other so called "audio phile" recordings I've never been able to listen to. Stunning quality recording of stunningly not-so-good performances. Trio Gallanteria comes to mind. A Stereophile-recommended record!
I think it's a problem of the forest and the trees. It does seem some folks become overly enamoured with the details (how much better the sax sounded on Jazz at the Pawn shop), but lose the bigger picture (who cares about the sax, are these guys drunk? The performance sux!)
I think good equipment can certainly appeal to and satisfy the arbor-phile's focus on the small details like the trees, but something seems a little bit amiss if it doesn't come back to the big picture -- the music.
When I turn up my system to a "natural level" and close my eyes, especially with a good glass of red wine or single malt scotch, it's easy to forget about the stereo, and only hear, think about, imagine the band playing.
An illusion, like one of those pictures that look like nonsense, til you cross your eyes just right, and suddenly a comprehensible image jumps out at you.
I never had that experience before my Dynaco came along.