For those who truly love audio and the sound of music reproduced at its absolute best - no detail is too small. Nothing gets overlooked. People who don't understand, people who are not enlightened - simply don't understand the levels that an audiophile will go to in order to achieve audio perfection. He will spend to his last dollar. He will tweak until it seems like there is nowhere else left to tweak. No level of detail is too small.
This level of attention is how we get to what we call microphonic audio. The signal path of an audiophile system is only as strong as its weakest link. For example one might invest strongly in some speakers be it floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer or of they are looking for speakers more towards the custom installation world such as in-wall or on-wall speakers - nothing effects your sound more than top-performing speakers but that's not the only place to look to for audio heaven.
Many old-school audiophiles suggest that your system can only perform as well as your source components - AKA: the Linn LP 12 argument. This is solid logic but speakers make more of a difference, simply put. Media servers, satellite receivers, audiophile sources and or good old DVD-Video players only can make so much of a difference. Blu-ray players represent the best bet for high resolution audio and video playback as they do 1080p video and HD audio as well as streaming AV content.
Moving past the source components for an audiophile system you get into the always compelling topic of audio-video receivers versus AV preamps. AV preamps offer more audiophile performance but don't come with a power amp for 5 to 9 additional channels. HDMI receivers have tons of inputs, room correction software and so much more. If you have the budget, HDMI AV preamps are the best option. If not, today's AV receivers are pretty amazing.
In a perfect world, every AV preamp would have the performance of a stereo preamp. Every multi-channel amp would have the performance of a stereo power amp. Systems would be easily controlled by iPhones as universal remote controls and loading up on a ton of audio video accessories wouldn't be so needed.
The biggest issue for the success of home theater systems is the video system. Plasma HDTVs make the best video image from a flat HDTV but LCD or LED sets are much more thin and bright. CRT HDTVs, AKA: big screen sets, were once the kings of the planet but today they are pretty much gone. Today the king of the home theater world are video calibrated front video projectors on top performing, exotic video screens. You can get more, high end video for less money with a projector than any other video investment. Most people, despite the hype think 3D HDTV is not worth much investment be it a home theater system or even a theatrical movie ticket. Most people would rather watch what's best on television be it HBO, streaming content, network programming or beyond.