If our definition of high-end is lifted from The Absolute Sound Magazine’s tenet: “the sound of unamplified instruments and/or voices as heard in a natural, acoustic performance space” then does it make sense that modern electronic or multitracked music can ever be considered high-end?
I believe it can, but not before broadening our definition. Perhaps it makes more sense to say “the natural, lossless, uncolored, reproduction of recorded music.” Probably too wordy and in need of editing, but I think this quick stab at defining that which we strive to achieve might make more sense than the flag waived by TAS founder, HP.
I remember asking Harry this very question and found his answer illuminating. Though I do not recall his exact words I do remember their essence. He suggested that any system capable of “the sound of unamplified instruments and/or voices as heard in a natural, acoustic performance space” would accurately render any recording without loss or coloration, even recordings that did not fit the definition of live. It was HP, after all, that played for me on his reference system Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, a track most definitely not live, certainly not unamplified, and most definitely not heard in a natural, acoustic space.
So yes, I believe modern music can be considered high-end. I’ve put together a short video on the subject if you’re interested. You can watch it here (as well as watch me get the crap scared out when I fire up the Tesla coil).