People are free to chase their own tails to their heart's content. The issue turns problematic, however, when these tail-chasers anoint themselves the arbiters of audio quality by the mere virtue of having listened or owned some exobitantly priced equipment, while proffering no independent, subjective verfication for their outlandish claims. The issue turns problematic when these tail-chasers purport to be taken as authorities when their failure to acknowledge their cognitive biases and the limitations of human hearing comprimises their position from the outset. The issue turns problematic when the tail-chasers hector and condescend those who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid. The issue turns problematic when there is a conspiracy of idiocy that takes this state of affairs as normal or even desirable, and which acts in unison to suppress anyone wishing to add a bit of rationality to the debate.
Slow down with the blanket statements lol. Not everything that is high end is snake oil, differences between DAC's, amplifiers, headphones and transports are very real and have been proven so.
Yes for some people "end game" gear means buying the equipment that has the lowest distortion or which has distortion below scientifically established noise floor. You will also find that this attitude also tends to correlate with a general reluctance to invest large amounts of money into this hobby, which to me seems rather convenient. If you want to get the most out of this hobby you have to trust your ears first and foremost, that's all I will say for now as to be honest I should probably not be discussing this as it borders on discussing a topic which is only really OK to discuss in the Sound Science forum.
You can infer that if "end game" means best specs and verifiable data for some people, conclusive technical function has been taken to be the ultimate purpose of musical equipment, when it is in actuality only the efficient purpose (that is, the means has been mistaken for the end.)
For example, you could spend all your life posting on head-fi and never gain a single piece of useful insight, and never make a decision which is informed by what you have read here (thus p***ing in a violin). Success in any endeavor requires taking risks, in head-fi that risk is to trust your ears. Or you could live on sound science forum and hydrogenaudio
Edited by drez - 4/8/12 at 6:15am