Originally Posted by PULLIAMM
I apply it to things like CD players where no improvement exists beyond a certain price point. For cars and speakers, I agree that this price point is much higher, and that I am unlikely to ever reach it. Unlike many here, I also recognize the difference between choices based on performance and choices based on aesthetics.
I can think of at least one performance criterion that is not directly sound related but has had an effect (whether it is worth the price premium is, again, up to the individual--but it is a performance issue nonetheless).
When I set out to put my current system together, there were NO 200$ universal audio players--in Canada, the entry price was around 600$. I paid 800$ for mine because of functionality as well as sound (the cheaper model had no time alignment settings). I discovered it had another feature I hadn't tested for but have found useful since. In my house, there are several DVD players scattered around hooked up to various TVs (and several computers). I rented a film that jammed up (pixelated image, wouldn't play, etc.) on my regular DVD player. I tried it on every player in the house and the only one that would play the disc is the universal audio player. Since then, I've probably gotten about a dozen or so discs that only that player would play (and I've "revived" some old, scratched CDs that I have that are out of print and hard to find). Now, I wouldn't pay 1000$ extra JUST for that more robust playback capability, but I might pay up to 150-200$ more. As it is, whenever I go shopping for DVD/CD players with my friends, in whatever budget range they feel comfortable, I bring along discs I know will trip up most players. I've yet to find one under 300$ that can play through them (I haven't tried any above 300$ because none of my friends has been looking for players that cost more than that and I'm not in the market for a new player).
In the end, the diminishing margin of return for luxury items will always be steep and, yes, other things than sound quality can and do influence purchasing decisions. But there are OTHER performance criteria--measurable and repeatable--that can factor into the decision to pay more than your threshold price. How much more depends entirely on the value one places on such things, of course.