Holes: It's All Subjective
A friend of mine once told me that nobody wants to buy a drill. What they really want to buy, he said, is holes; it's just that they have to buy the drill in order to get them.
He's wrong, of course. There are people out there who buy drills just for the pleasure of owning drills. They're called "drill collectors", and this article isn't about them although there might be a little of the drill collector in some of us, too.
For the rest of us, though at least most of the time what we want is the holes, and for audiophiles and music lovers, "the holes" are "musical enjoyment" and "the drill" is whatever it is that we have to buy, do, or have in order to 'get it'.
That includes our recordings, the equipment we play them on, our acoustical environment, and everything else, from the recording studio through the last bounce of reflected sound off the walls of our listening room, that can, whether positively or negatively, affect our musical enjoyment even the chair in our listening room.
It all makes a difference, and because it does, everything becomes a part of our system the drill we make our holes with and must be considered whenever we wish to make it better.
That kind of thinking goal-oriented, rather than process-oriented allows us to do things possible in no other way; to quantify musical enjoyment; to view it as a commodity purchasable by resources; and to recognize that anything that can contribute to our quest for musical pleasure (time, money, knowledge, effort, or whatever else) is a resource, and can be used to gain more musical pleasure.
If, for example, you've got an hour or two and you want to spend just that and nothing more on musical enjoyment, just turn on your system and listen. But what if you've got a thousand Dollars, Euro, Pounds Sterling, etc. currency in hand to buy more musical enjoyment with? Depending on the circumstances, you might have all kinds of things to choose between and the decision might involve (and be worth) some shopping or research and (perhaps) some serious thinking.
Consider that chair in your listening room as an illustration, is it comfortable? Could it be more comfortable? If your chair were more comfortable, would you enjoy your music more? Or could you enjoy it to the same degree but for a longer time whenever you sat in it? Would a thousand in central bank currency spent on a new listening room chair give you more, less, or the same number of hours of listening enjoyment as a thousand dollars spent on new records? Or more or better equipment? Or on improving the acoustics of your listening room?
Do ask questions like those. With everything recognized as contributing to your musical enjoyment, the issue is not "Will whatever I do make a difference?". Instead, it's got to be either "Given the same value of resources applied, which will make for the greatest difference in listening pleasure?" or "Given the desire for 'X' amount more listening pleasure, what's the least amount of resources that I can apply to get it?"
As with everything else, try to find the thing that will give you the greatest return for what you put into it, and you might even be surprised to find out that that's not necessarily the new amplifier you just read that glowing review of, but something else, entirely.
There's also the matter of value over time: If, for example, buying 10 new records would give you one unit of enjoyment each time you played it and you would play each of those records an eventual total of ten times, for a grand total of 100 units of enjoyment over time, which would be better for you? To buy the records or to go to a live concert that would cost the same and would give you 100 units of enjoyment all at once?
Whatever it is, though, assign your values, make your decisions, and set things up in whichever way will please you the most. Then put on some tunes, sit back, close your eyes, and...