Interesting. I agree with you on the sound staging and imaging being better at least that is what I've noticed. But I've been using cPlay and I notice more detail throughout when compared to the other players. What I was under the impression is that the other programs do the conversion to WAV on the fly and don't fully expand the file and store it in cache before music playback which is introducing the artifacts. Have you tried cPlay before?
One more question. So you think a file directly ripped from the CD to WAV will be better than a FLAC file expanded back to WAV if they were the same file?
.Wav files converted to mp3 would be a waste of time. There is no benefit over just ripping to mp3 if that is what you want for your player files.
I think multiple conversions will always adversely affect the audio quality of the file to some degree.