what is the purpose of a stereo system ?

yes this is a philosophical question. i think it is the basis for many disagreements as to what is good sound and is a useful issue to discuss.

here are 6 categories for identifying the purpose of a stereo system:

1)as a window on the source--neutrality (truth)

2)to recreate the sound of music--musicality (beauty)

3)to statisfy one's sonic preferences--idiosyncratic

4)as a status symbol to impress other people--non sonic (psychological)

5)to create a salutary affect, such as lowering blood pressure, relaxation, stimulation etc.--non sonic (physiological)

6)as a catalyst to enhancing another activity--background

some of the disagreements as to component preferences or the sound of stereo systems may result from differing ideas as to what a stereo system should do.

a stereo system which puts one to sleep--a salutary affect may be considered poor quality when viewed as a conveyor of what's on a recording.

i hope this helps to view componets ind stereo systems ina different perspective.
Gunbei, your right, slippers! I was up later than usual last night agonizing over why my system sounded different than it did the day before when no changes were made, probably should write it off as a mood change. I don't think any of Mrtennis's categories covers this scenario, well maybe category five?

"...why my system sounded different than it did the day before when no changes were made".

Damn, I hate it when that happens. When I experience that the only things I can think of chalking it up to is, as you say, mood changes, and/or possibly the state of electrical current/usage in my apartment building. My neighbors love their TVs! OR as mentioned in a recent thread, AIR PRESSURE AND HUMIDITY.

Maybe everything sounds/feels better when you listen to your favorite music while wearing a silk smoking jacket and have a beautiful young woman on each arm.