A "professional recording engineer" chimed in right at the get-go on how most studios use $99 Shure mics and Yamaha NS-10 monitors and most music is recorded like crap so why bother trying to make a 16-bit/44.1 Red book standard recording sound good? Why indeed?
Unfortunately 16-bit/44.1 Red book standard music files are going to be with us a long time. Well after the time when CD's are mentioned in the same sentence with Laser Discs and Beta video cassettes we'll still be listening to 16-bit/44.1 files, so we might as well try to make them sound as good as possible rather than merely accept their inherent mediocrity.
I won't deny that some "ultra-fi" designs are over the top with equally stratospheric price tags. Do they deserve to rival fine automobiles or investment-grade art? Obviously, not a lot of any of the components in the survey will be made or sold. At this level of audio each component is a limited production art object.
But that's the point. Customers aren't merely purchasers of goods and services, but patrons of the art of audio - partners who are absolutely necessary so the search for audio perfection can continue to progress. God bless anyone with the means and passion to purchase a D'Agostino Momentum power amplifier or any of the other gear shown in the Wired pictorial...you help make the audio world go around.