You totally miss-understand me. I have heard superb systems. Good music on good systems can truly be moving. In that we agree. I have even had the privilege of hearing one recording that if you closed your eyes, you could almost believe it was real. It was a 1/2 track to a Revox in the same room as recorded of an upright bass, played back on Levinson and first generation B&W 801's. No snake oil cables, power regenerators, lifts, or magic bricks. It was just a well set up room. I had two friends, both with Quads, CJ amps, one SOTA, one Linn they would endlessly argue about. No bass, but oh what fantastic acoustics and vocals. I have also heard a lot of high priced total crap. What is in my living room fits as it is a living room, not a "mine is bigger than yours" room. My electronics are hidden as they would not blend with our Asian decor. Fortunately, Vietnamese elephants make pretty good speaker stands.
I too have traveled a bit. The world is a wondrous place. Just some folks think they have a better view of it without knowing to whom they are addressing. Everyone in this world knows something and has experienced something neither you nor I have or know. It is wise to listen. That is how you learn. Second lesson in Freshman Engineering Orientation. First was "Never memorize what you can look up, learn to understand it instead".
So, did you install the correct impedance matching resistors? You claim to also be an engineer, so you should understand the importance. I put my phono stage right under the arm in the base so it followed the best practice of the best part is the part (cable) that is not there. Simple engineering. I was in the process of building a thin film gain stage on the headshell when the CDs came of age and I switched as I prefer to play music than play with music.
Any yes, I am only "comfortable" as I chose to serve this great nation in the IC rather than play the contractor game. I have no narcissistic need to brag about what my system costs. I just listen to it (them). Being an engineer, I understand enough physics to know where to focus my expenditures. When I hear something I can't explain, I look for the factual reason. When I discover a problem, I look for a solution, not a band-aid.
I also enjoy magic. That really up close slight of hand. Blackwood style. Cards, balls, etc. Skill and training understanding how to fool the audiences' brains. Not impressed by modern high tech where the entire trick is technical and any idiot can run around the stage pretending to be great.
So enjoy your cables. I'll keep buying more and more music. Goodwill sells CDs for 69 cents. I have found a lot of music I never had heard of for less than a cup of coffee. Some of it quite moving even on my own designed and built amplifier and speakers.
I am no where near smart enough to design a DAC and don't see well enough to build SMD any more anyway, so buying my next upgrade. There seems to be three or four companies that do have that expertise. Also a lot who don't but that has not stopped them form selling $50,000 boxes where my JDS sounds better.