The pursuit of Audio excellence can be best defended by proponents of "aesthetic subjectivism". I turn to Hume in order to express what this means. Substitute "audio reality" for the words virtuous, and you get a picture of what most modern audiophiles (including myself -- to a large extent) think and feel on the subject of selecting and listening to equipment.
"To have the sense of virtue, is nothing but to feel a satisfaction of a particular kind from the contemplation of a character. The very feeling constitutes our praise or admiration. We go no farther; nor do we enquire into the cause of the satisfaction. We do not infer a character to be virtuous, because it pleases: But in feeling that it pleases after such a particular manner, we in effect feel that it is virtuous. The case is the same as in our judgments concerning all kinds of beauty, and tastes, and sensations. Our approbation is implied in the immediate pleasure they convey to us."
Having said this, I must confess that while I "believe" in the subjective appraisal of audio gear, I pursue my audio habit riding on the shoulders of empirical audio scientists such as Siegfried Linkwitz. So while I believe that each and every person has their own tastes and likes in audio, there is a scientific and measurable basis to these tastes -- the difficulty is in finding and quantifying these tastes -- using principles of psychoacoustics. Based on my experiences with the Orion Dipole system, I would have to say that Siegfried Linkwitz is coming close to a grand synthesis of all the principles involved in what makes home music reproduction both realistic and convincing.