I recently asked myself a simple question. "What is the difference between a person who owns a $5000.00 system and one who owns a $500,000.00 system?" The obvious answer is income. More importantly, disposable income. Anyone with a half-million-dollar system is certainly a high income individual. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were two other reasons - interest and knowledge.
There are many people who have a $5000.00 system who can afford one many times that value. They may have other expensive interests beyond audio. Maybe, they only need an system for casual listening before taking friends for a ride on their million-dollar yacht. So, it seems obvious that not everyone with means has interest in audio.
Another reason is lack of knowledge about audio and audio components. My first foray, many years ago, into high end audio was a simple integrated amp. I was only aware of it because that was what the local stereo store sold. I only knew one person who had an amp AND a preamp in those early days. If someone had told me that such things as Class A or Single Ended Triode components existed I would not have had a clue what they meant. Obviously they did exist, I just didn't know about them.
Our industry can do very little to help with potential customer's income capacity, but our industry can certainly do something to help with a potential customer's knowledge level. I suspect that most audiophiles gain knowledge the same way that I did - on their own. Just like most audiophiles, my journey into learning more about the industry is always ongoing. I discover new things and concepts I did not know about before all the time.
There are industry professionals who specialize in high end audio whose knowledge about the industry seems expansive. Professional reviewers, for example, often have been recording engineers in their past. Most high-performance audio manufacturers seem to know what they are doing. In any case, some writers and manufacturers seem to have more knowledge than others, but after all, they all have made it their life's work to know audio.
What about the rest of us?