I had a chance to speak to an audio engineer at a party on Saturday. Really, really seemed to know his stuff. I'm not ashamed to say I was lost during certain points of the conversation, though I certainly had my fair share of drinks in the belly.
Basically... his take on audio was simple. He referred to the hobby as a "synthetic market." Not only were cables a big sham. So was the source. So was the amp. Zilch, no, nada difference between a signal coming from your TV and one coming from a top o' the line Wadia cdp. All in our heads amigos and amigas.
Amps? Same deal. Asked me how much my amp was worth and proceeded to tell me not to spend another dime. In fact, he suggested I sell it and pick up the cheapest receiver I could get my hands on. Seriously.
Of course he gave a bit of creedence to speaker design, but set the bar quite low before the "synthetic market" reared its ugly head. Buy some Infinities at Best Box and call it a day.
Interestingly, he believed the preamp was the single most important component. And if money was burning a hole in your pocket, feel free to splurge as you may get what you pay for in this instance.
I don't doubt for a second that the man knew his science, but he was a certifiable nutjob plain and simple. Completely blinded by the snake oil of "cold, hard facts". Works both ways IMO. Scary thing was I don't think he was rocking the boat for ****s and giggles. He honestly believed in the toxic waste that was spewing from his pie hole.
I went, filled up my drink and never returned.