Sokolov posted an interesting rant below in another thread, which provoked some good replies. My own thoughts are below.
Well I was more just talking about the general mentality around here nothing personal with ccshua really and more just that he used the word "pity" which I am increasingly associating with head-fi.
It is a real pity people spend large amounts of money only to want more...and more... and more. Can't say I have never been guilty of this in my life or that people are actively aware of the damage they are doing to themselves.
If these wants do not have an end, I think there is a real problem that is not associated at all with "golden ears" but rather the reward that comes with a new toy. If you follow the logic that dopamine is release as a reward, and a new toy would/could cause the release of dopamine the line between hi-fi hobby and drug addiction becomes scarily blurry for some people around here. Enjoyment of music does this, so we are all guilty on some level, but some (many) people's focus has shifted from the reward of buying rather than listening in the aim of feeling good.
Tweaking offers people a way to theoretically make improvements and thus a situation to feel rewarded about - they made their gear "better". For those who are fully blinded this is great as they have a perpetuated sense of happiness even if it is complete lunacy. There seem to be those who are in a circle of losing though - it can never be good enough, there is ALWAYS something that could be better.
I would never want to associate a pleasurable activity with one of the biggest paradoxes of life - happiness. Or "Paradox of hedonism".
The less we perceive as problematic with regards to music, the more we should be able to enjoy it... which is probably why I have friends who are also musicians that do not buy into the hi-fi thing and probably enjoy music even more than I do.. because they are not worrying about the quality of their experience, they are simply enjoying. I like where I am now which is kind of in the middle, I have high end gear but I refuse to worry about the superfluous.
I also don't doubt for a second my decision to purchase my phoenix and Ref-7 were more to relax anxiety on some level about performance, rather than lack of ability on my previous system -my previous set up was great (and so is this one). It has not increased my capacity to enjoy at all (well maybe my LCD-2), it has merely reduced reasons to worry about my system if you get my drift. It is expensive, good looking, and over designed so I "know" I am getting a good performance. Whereas before I was constantly wondering what a better source and amp would sound like. It ruins the experience if you let it. I know I did for a while. Know that I have spent crazy amounts of money I no longer feel that way and might actually go back down to a cheaper system.
All in all I think it was a great purchase but I am very aware of the true motives which many here life to actively blind themselves from.... Why else would you tear apart multi-thousand dollar components to throw in better caps and ETC? Why else would you indulge is a huge luxury at a time of economic crisis only to wish it was more, or you had spent more on another.
Finally the supreme irony lies in the fact that most of these tweaks and changes do not make a sonic difference, rather a psychological one.
There was an interesting rant on another site, the author and link to which I don't have handy, but in which the author stated that for any new component to replace an existing one in his system, it had to beat his current reference, upgraded to take it as far as it could go. Many common tweaks DO make a sonic difference (though some may not). Upgrading the clock and OPAMPs in a digital component and upgrading the capacitors where they are in the signal path or power supply result in distinctly better performance.
However, I do understand this rant -- I recall someone having in their signature something like "Don't ever forget it's about the music.", a wise reminder if ever there was one. We definitely do tend to get caught up in the gear. For me, it is fun tinkering and the results often increase my ability to enjoy what I listen to. When I don't feel as good about a change to my system, I reverse it. Often changes I have made which I thought would make no difference at all, though I can't nail down exactly what I feel has changed about the sound, have often changed my feeling when listening, for better or for worse. Through a process of alimination, and an increased understanding of the effect of various things, when I do choose to buy something new, it is much easier to guess whether it will be a worthy improvement or not. When it is, the reward is more pleasure when listening.
However, I reckon I could stop now and be satisfied with the sound quality of the gear I have.