The OP seems like a simpler question than it is. One could pull a random 18-year-old (one not already over-exposed to loud volumes) out of the population and get "better ears" than mine every time, on clinical measures.
But we listen to music with our ears, with our minds, and an even fuzzier notion, with our emotions. Audiophiles **care** what music sounds like. Just paying attention is a huge part of being able to hear a particular difference or not. Your ears may pick it up, but if your mind does not decode it, it doesn't exist in your experience.
So yes, audiophiles have better, ummmmm...listening, than non-audiophiles. Not better ears necessarily, but definitely better listening.
i dont know if this is true or not, you are saying someone whos not into audio when listening to music dont pay as much attention to whats going on? or is it simply that they cant tell the difference between how something sounds on one system compares to another?
No, I'm saying something more specific. I'm saying someone who's not into audio when listening to music doesn't pay as much attention to how the music sounds in terms of what audiophiles listen for: soundstage, balance, stereo separation, detail, clarity, bass extension, etc.
It's quite possible that a non-audiophile is paying a lot of attention---to OTHER things. I would count myself among this group, since I am always listening to the composer's choices: What are the notes and rhythms, what chord was that, what chord comes next, why is there no guitar solo here, this is an unusual melody. I do that because I compose myself, so I'm listening for the same things in the recording that I would be looking at if I had a musical score on paper.
I also listen as an audiophile, but only some of the time.
All that said, I think most persons listen VERY casually--music is just a background to something else they're doing. With that kind of inattention, they are very unlikely to have the mental "ears" to notice audiophile differences in playback.
And the full point was that being able to "tell the difference" depends on good ears, high attention, caring about audiophile characteristics, and experience. These factors cannot be separated out, they all matter.