I do have an understanding of these things. I have been at it for 35 years and educate myself. Why would an engineer make somthing different if all is the same? They want it to sound better.
Your car gets you there just like mine. You make a choice based on your needs, your sensitivities, your biases. I can drive a $400 car, but I can't listen to a $400 stereo. Just my choice and my sensitivities. I can afford a new BMW, but I do not like BMWs and do not want to put that much money into a car.
Why does everyone have to agree that all CD players, all amplifiers and preamplifiers sound the same? Why is there a post asking why spend more than $350 (Thanks Pulliam) on a CD player if everyone 'knows' the answer? Is AVS a group that preaches to the choir? Then again, maybe you can't hear the differences I do and insist my perception is the same as yours.
Pulliam has his ears checked and they are perfect. Well, perfect enough not to need hearing aids. What does he understand about music and recording and concert halls? Maybe he only listens to Metallica. If he is happy with his $350 player, so be it. I am happy for him. He just likes to argue his point. He wants to post here instead of work during the week. (I believe I fired him from his last job.)
If you have speakers that are in a box and have an internal passive crossover, you are not hearing what I am hearing. Honestly. If you do not hear and feel the presence of the performers you (1) have a ways to go or (2) it is not that important to you or (3) you do not percieve what others do. At its best an audio system should be a time machine taking you to the recording session.
Can someone snowboard better than the most of us? Can someone cook gourmet meals better than most of us? Can someone outrun us? Can someone tell the difference in feel between silk and rayon better than some of us? Can the nuances mean more to some of us? Can a musician or a singer or an audiophile hear better than most of us? YES. Wine experts can taste differences that I miss. Do I snub their perceptions? No. I save a few bucks. I look for the $12-$25 bargains. I drink other folks $200 bottles (yes!).
I listen for the 'bargains' in audio in the price range I decide to spend. I would save money if I didn't hear a difference. I like to save money. Then I can buy more music and movies. That is what this is about. If a CD player makes 70% of my music sound more real and it is in my price range, why wouldn't I buy it?
You and any engineer can't measure everything. No one knew about jitter until years after CD players came to the market. It was perfect sound forever. The first players were terrible! The DACs had huge timing errors. The error was unmeasurable at that time. If you don't think so you still have that original Sony. Thank goodness some engineers, like Mr. Stuart at Meridian, could hear the problems and had the engineering skills to move CD forward. It has moved forward and low priced players are much better. Some high priced players exceed low priced players quality of sound in an appropriately revealing system. If you do not agree, hey, great. Save the dough. But you are holding tight to a belief system and want everyone to agree with you. Christians think their beliefs are right. Muslims too, and Hasidic Jews.
let's not go to war over beliefs... Just have some fun.