First, a list of “which plugins sound different at 96 kHz on what kind of material” would actually be a pretty interesting list to read. If someone has a lot of plugins, a lot of demanding material, and a lot of time on their hands, I would love to see that list collated! I expect it to have several plugins on it, some of which may even be quite popular, but I’d also not expect it to be every plugin under the sun – the majority of plugins are probably OK.
This is a very common belief, and I used to share it in the past! With what we now understand about both physics and medicine, it is however wrong. And it’s wrong in a macroscopic, measurable, way – we have instruments that can measure it.
The reason is: Every biological system (including your ears) is ultimately a physical system (which goes to mechanics, which goes to chemistry.) Unless you are a very strong believer in certain religious tenets, there is no magical infinitely-precise analog juju that can transmit essence at a level undetectable instruments yet perceivable by your body.
Your ears do not have infinite precision. There are air movements that are small enough that your ears cannot perceive them, no matter how much you want them to. There’s a minimum activation threshold in the sound transmitting bones and ear drum, because of friction and stiffness inherent in the materials. There’s a minimum activation energy needed for your inner ear nerve cells, to overcome the minimal chemical hysteresis that prevents the ears from just constantly firing. Even the air molecules have some minimum inertia at a given temperature.
Add up all those errors. If we can capture and process a signal at a precision better then what those errors give you, then the capture, storage, and processing of that signal is perfect as far as an ear can determine, which is what matters. (Plato’s cave, Matrix, simulation hypothesis, and so on – post-modern epistemology teaches us that your reality is only that which you can perceive.)
Also, this thread should go into some FAQ about “common beliefs about audio and what we actually know in modern recording,” I think it’s a great summary all in all.
On another note, I still have those speaker wires for sale. Only $1000/meter. A bargain!