I wouldn't be an audiophile if I didn't love music. There is a double edged sword at play which is, that the more analytical I am, the less I enjoy the music -- in the way that I did when I was a child. I think analysis, judgement, critical faculties diminish our ability to empathize . Music is best (and perhaps only) enjoyed from an empathetic state of mind -- analysis has been, in my experience, a false attempt to justify enjoyment through 'logical understanding'. For a while I was a critical listener. I'm content with my system to the point of not really caring about the audiophile aspect of things anymore. And with all the knowledge I've accumulated on the subject over the years, I think I'm at a point where, were my system to burn to the ground I wouldn't make efforts to recreate it. I'd be perfectly satisfied with some quality single driver IEMs, electrostatic headphones or some studio monitors of some sort.
Other ramblings, this hobby definitely furthered my understanding of quality versus crap. For example, my discovery of electrostatic transducers (and understanding how they work) I quickly isolated the important factors at play and I was able to come up with a cost effective solution for great music reproduction.
Concerning music itself, for me this hobby has reinforced the fact that music is noise. I think given this reinforcement, I've been able to better find good, interesting, and challenging music, rather than following trends and suggestions. Similar to this, I think the biggest issue I've seen is that lots of people with nice rigs only play "good" recordings to accompany their "good" setups. Diana Krall is the personification of this situation. I can't name a single song by her but I'm certain in my very limited experience of her oeuvre, that it's utter crap -- relative to other, more thorough musical efforts.
Going a full circle, being a judgmental snob is generally something I'm pretty against though I'm not sweating labeling Diana Krall's music garbage in this instance. My moral is don't be critical. The more empathetic you can be with everything, the happier you'll be with everything.
It's like food. Tastes change. You can go to a fine restaurant and not like a a well prepared meal, even though others might.
And you might find you don't find much enjoyment in the mass marketed big chains serving salty tasteless slop.
Audio is like that. At some point as you listen with more attention to detail. Suddenly the stuff you used to tap your foot to
doesn't sound all that great. And you go look for something with more to it. Not a jazz fan? Not a classical fan? not a problem.
Just keep listening. Yes, a lot of Krall's music falls into an odd lot. I can only really listen to "the girl in the other room."
And a lot of popular music I listened to over the years no longer cuts it. And some other stuff pops out, and you wonder why
you never noticed it before. Good music comes from inspired artists, not from a bunch of guys who need 12 songs to fill out an album.
BTW, I still sneak out to Taco Bell for a smothered burrito now and then. So much better than McDonald's..