I was attempting to describe to a good friend outside our industry what we do in engineering. It was a strange conversation explaining how, through materials, design choices, and component types, we can wring emotions from music. A real head-scratcher, that.
Yet that is what we do—handcraft our products to perform as we wish, to reproduce sound the way we want in our own homes.
I suppose it's not a lot different from engineers that design toasters or cars. They might also have the skillset to make it easy or hard to get the toast right; easy or hard to drive the car from point A to point B. The question at hand is one of intent. Do they care enough to make it personal? Is producing an outcome that appeals to them personally part of the game plan or are they simply meeting a predefined spec? Or worse, waiting for the clock to strike quitting time?
I believe what separates remarkable from mundane is personal touch. The Black and Decker toaster for offer at Wal Mart isn't likely as personable as what I hand-curated for my kitchen. Not if one cares about the quality of toast. Or music. Or anything we take personally.
All designers are capable of emotional tuning. Most either are unaware of their abilities or simply punching the clock.
If you want to connect with your gear, make it personal.