Mind you, when I was taking a seminar on Shostakovich symphonies in graduate school, I soon discovered that when Shostakovich was writing separate lines for the cellos and the basses, my system wasn't clear enough in the bass to really distinguish them. So I went out and bought a set of Cerwin Vega speakers that solved the problem.
The reason I am mentioning all this is that the New York Times has an article about the New Audio Geeks that is rather interesting. Here is an important passage:
The Internet and digital technology have upended the music industry over the last decade or so, but high-end audio has arguably suffered an even greater blow. The industry’s very raison d’être — the nitpicky pursuit of superb sound reproduction, no matter the cost or complexity — is irrelevant to many music listeners today.
People download MP3s from iTunes or Web sites and play them on their smartphones or laptops. They share songs with friends by e-mailing YouTube links. Sure, the music sounds flat, tinny, supercompressed; it’s an audiophile’s hell. But convenience and mobility rule the day.Flat, tinny and supercompressed... You know, if you are listening to Jay Z and Eminem, I'm not sure it makes much difference. But I'm pretty sure it is not the ideal way to listen to a Beethoven symphony.
The fact that vinyl seems to be reviving might be an indicator that some people are demanding better sound. That's probably a good thing, or at least the article seems to think so.
My standard of sound has never come from a speaker, though, but from the instrument. I spend part of my day hunched over a guitar, my ears about ten inches from the soundboard, so that's what my standard of what a guitar sounds like is. My idea of higher fidelity is splurging on more expensive strings.
But that's just me...