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I guess everyone is different. I would call $50000 system more Mid-Fi, no where near high-end.
59 grand buys you mid fi??? I'd bet that a 12 grand system and a 50 grand system could be very close in sound... the differences exceeded by the effects of the room.
Meanwhile the headphone market grows.
Yes the room makes a big difference to how a good a system can sound.Yes I would consider a 50K system Mid-Fi, I have spent over 50K UK pounds on my system and I would only put it in a Mid-Fi category. I have Friends with single components costing more than my whole system, so I have heard high end and know what the difference is.So I would disagree with you that a 12K system would come close to a 50K system, no it would not be close if the money have been spent correctly.
Keep in mind that there are two types of high end audio shoppers -- those who know and those who don't. Many guys on this forum, for example, can take $20K and make a system sound like it costs a million bucks. Guys with deep pockets and who don't know audio can spend $100,000 and it will sound like crap, but it will look impressive. There's a zillion images all over the Internet of guys with $50,000 speakers positioned 3 inches from the wall.
If you can deal with headphone 'soundstage' (some can't, I can; to each his/her own) a headphone dollar buys you much more 'fi' than a room system dollar, and many speakers- by design- provide such minuscule 'sweet spots' (in an attempt to curcumvent room interaction issues) that you might as well use headphones anyway.
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