I see it from a few angles:
1. The general public doesnt have enough time anymore to sit down and listen to music which means they probably won't be willing to spend the time to enjoy what a middle to higher end system can do. Because of this, the budget will automatically shrink because its simply less important to people today. I think the average person see's music as a background medium instead of an entertainment medium now.
That just doesn't make any sense...what poll or statistics are you refering to? AND the average person was not buying ultra high and anyway
The midrange priced products (think denon, pioneer, marantz etc etc) have gotten much better and offer much more for your money. Most of these products will probably not sound as good or always last as long etc but you get a huge value for the dollar.
Denon, Pioneer and Marantz have always been Denon Pioneer and Marantz.The technology has improved more.
3. Today's house designs are very very open floorplans with lots of windows and tile floors etc. This doesn't do much for the world of higher end audio!
These all window houses ..if they exist still would not deter and audiophile to set up a proper room.
4. Many customers comming in today are much more willing to trust a review website instead of what they prefer
The internet has made it easier to purchase online and perhaps some will use web reviews to purchase rather than listen at a store. Show me a bad reviewer and I will show you someone who won't be getting pieces on loan to review.
. prices on many nicer items have gotten insane, even to someone in the industry. I try my best to not sell with my wallet
The high end has always been insane what products are you refering to? Levinson 33 monoblocks were $30,000 10 years ago. and the #32 hasn't risen in price.
SORRY MAN, BUT I JUST THINK THAT YOUR POINTS ARE WAY OFF FOR WHY HIGH END IS DYING. U.S.CAPITALISM IS PART OF THE PROBLEM AND ALL THE MADE IN THE U.S.A. LOGOS ARE FALLING BY THE WAISTSIDE. THAT INCLUDES HIGHEND AUDIO LIKE KRELL VELODYNE ETC...WITH THEIR PRODUCTS BEING MADE IN CHINA. THE DOT COM, STOCK MARKET, REAL ESTATE AND DOLLAR BUBBLES HAVE BURST.