The music reproduction industry now has two options - 1] to make products which major on the latest technology, for these products to 'do more' in terms of connectivity, control, boil an egg, let the cat out ....
As technology throws up more and more things that electronics can 'do', there's scope to design, make and sell such products. For example, who would have guessed 10 years ago that a sub-industry would emerge making sticks to hold a mobile phone at arm's length x2 from the holder? When the Walkman appeared, models suitable for joggers followed, as did models to use whilst swimming ...
None of these things make music sound 'better' but they make money.
2] Try to make music content sound 'better' than the product the latest one is replacing.
Big problem here - content quality. This is the limiting factor for every piece in the chain of music reproduction.
I have a pal who has written and performed the s/t music for a big-budget movie,[ Malpaso Productions - Clint Eastwood's company] , with access to the best in movie industry audio facilities. His own albums of the '70's and 80's were recorded with state of the art audio industry technology. He now releases music on-line, recorded at home on technology costing a few hundred pounds, not 100's thousands.
No amount of money spent on a system is going to improve the quality of the home studio content to the level of that achieved by the studios of Island Records in St. Peter's Sq Chiswick [as was] or Olympic Studios, Wembley, audio studios dedicated to the movie industry.
But for the listener, the music of the home studio recordings may be the music they enjoy, in preference to the music recorded elsewhere by the same artist.
It seems the audio industry may have peaked. There's nowhere to go in terms of adding musical value to current content, so it is having a trip down memory lane.
I would be interested to know the result of a blind test of 10 people dragged in off the street of the last 4 models in the Marantz stereo amp range, the latest being the PM6007. I have the 6006. Not long after that was released a model with the Union flag stuck to the front appeared. This was written up as 'better' than the original 6006 - but owners of that were told it was not worth 'upgrading' to the UK Special version.
When I consider replacing any of my audio products, after a moment's thought I realise I would be doing this as 'retail therapy'. I don't even have a dedicated CD player. I play CDs on my BluRay player. It's true that CDs probably sounded better on the Marantz CD63 KI that I sold because it had no digital outputs but - I'll live.
The 'hi-fi' industry is heading down the route that the guitar industry had to take, making 'specials' - whole ranges of specials, variations on the theme of the original which made the reputation of the model and the company, but adding nothing to the musicality of the instrument.
'Blackie', Eric Clapton's Fender Stratocaster that sold for $1m some years ago, was a 'Partscaster' made up of parts of three Strats of six he bought off a wall in music shop in Nashville, TN.
Music Center, the US music shop chain that bought Blackie, released a limited run of clones of Blackie, complete with cigarette burn at the headstock. The buyers of these guitars spent several thousand dollars on a nostalgia trip, the original having cost $400, to no musical benefit.