An interesting post. I would like to “correct” and to elaborate a few things – nothing that I have not written before but I like to advance this point.
There is no contradiction between positive experiences we have from listening in our cars, listening the cheap table radio at home or listening some audio mega-installations (probably with exception that most of audio mega-installations out there are worse than a table radio for $50 – this is not exaggeration).
The attentive or not perception of music does not vary depending of different audio system but vary from our internal tune from our current psychological, mental, emotional and intellectual state. I am sure it was many time when you attended a very good concert but something else blocked your communication with the performing event. Opposite is true as well – I am sure that there were many times what the vent was top notch but your listing consciousness was super-sharp and very fertile. So, in my view the key is an ability of us to moderate our own state of mind, formatting it in the most communicative and beneficial arrangement for the consumption of given artistic event. So, it is not better audio that makes better music reproductions but rather our own ability to understand and to control ourselves. So, how the “better audio” come to the picture?
This is tricky to explain. Let pretend that listening is eating and different audio is able to inflict different “poisoning” or different “stimulations” of listening perception. It is like if you eat a very fat food then a hot a spicy marinade pickle would neutralize your discomfort from the fatness of you meal. So, different audio elements and audio solution do not change the way how reproduced music sound but rather change the way how the audio “poisonings” and audio “stimulations” applied to a listener and by doing this they predispose the listener for better psychological, mental, emotional and intellectual state.
When I make my playback to “sound better” than it does not produce better sounds but it shape my perception to recognize the sounds in a different, more thoughtful and more solicitous way. The audio people mostly do not understand it and they usually operate by surrogate comprehending – that is way I mostly discard their opinions and views. However, even deadliest among them do recognize sometimes (when they are not drunk or high) that “some playbacks” catalyze their listening attention. The exploration and management of the mechanism that are responsible for it is where I see my interest in audio.
From here is very obvious that audio is just a tool, a method but not the purpose. With certain training (how it happened with some musicians) or with certain naturally accruing state of random mind (as it happens with you in the car) it is perfectly possible that the simulative effect of better audio become absolutely not necessary. So, I do not see any conflict between good “car experiences” and pursue of happing via the high-end audio means.
Rgs, Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche