And based on this, brand affinity and price affinity are bunk imho. Not only because, for the most part, it's all the same soup with a different label, but because in some cases you end up paying 2-3 times as much for the experience. It's not even a matter of "well this amp is more expensive and more overbuilt, and we can debate if that has sonic benefits" because now you've gotta question "under that logo, is this even different than something I can pick up for $60 at K-Mart?"
When you're looking at $500 products, obviously nearly all of it will be produced in the far east. That's the nature of the beast. When we start getting into high-end though as opposed to commodity receivers or integrated amps, I think the better companies do actually care about their customers. Many of them don't for sure, but take Merlin for example. Have a question about setting up your TSM or choosing the right amp for it? Call Bobby Palkovic at the factory. The kind of genuinely personal service that Merlin offers, from the guy who designs the things, is not all that common, especially not for speakers that sell for $3K/pr. Try calling Yamaha and ask to have a chat with the guy who designed one of the 10 thousand products they make.