I would advise members who haven't experienced mid and high-end audio equipment is go to a local meet and put things in perspective. Right off the bat, there's a huge difference in build materials and quality between high-end, boutique level equipment and the cheaper stuff from over seas. That Krell amp that was referenced earlier in this thread. Unless you're a power lifter, try lifting one by yourself. I've seen amps with half inch thick chassis walls. Some may claim overkill, but those who pay the admission price usually knows what they're getting: limited build quantity, exclusive parts, higher levels of perceived quality, and a sound that is usually distinct from a similar and competing product.
Many hi-end builders/engineers put their blood, sweat, and tears into a product and it shows. Some products encroach into the realm of modern art. Each builder/engineer especially in hi-end have their own priorities and reputations as stake. I can guarantee you that neither one wants their equipment to look like, or more importantly sound like someone else's creation.
Everything is all pieces of the whole package. If you ever get a chance to really listen to hi-end equipment without initial price prejudice, you may walk away knowing that if you had the money, this is what you would buy - or at least keep dreaming. KingStyles knows what I'm talking about. He has one of those dream, audio-nirvana setup, and yes, it's definitely hi-end.