Times have changed in how we view the world. In the past, changes to a small group of influencers resulted in a big swing of the long tail: tubes to transistors, records to CD, radio to television, dial phones to cell phones.
As technology advances, we see increasing evidence that the opposite is happening: relatively smaller changes to a larger group of connected influencers is now swinging the tail: gas to electric cars, physical stores to online ones, handwritten letters to electronic ones, cameras built into phones.
Back down to Earth, with respect to 2-channel audio, the same trends appear. Where once minor shifts in a small handful of influencing technologies made big changes in how we listen to music, now we see that small changes to a much larger group of connecting pieces have an equally impactful result. For example, connecting cables never made much difference on early low-resolution mono systems but have a major impact on what we listen to today. Or, phono cartridge choices of yore took massive changes to affect sound quality where today a slight variation in setup can make or break a system. My father used to tape a dime to the top of the cartridge to make its way through some difficult passages on the record.
Changes in our industry are constant and fluid. What we think are bedrocks of knowledge are really only mile markers on a long journey.
I am constantly readjusting my bellwether to keep from getting smacked by the long tail of progress.