"Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience.
Sorry but that is not quite the whole story. When Harman test speakers under controlled conditons they find that the better (technically i.e measurably) speakers are perceiced as better, only when the tests are sighted do stupid preconceptions based on appearance, reputation and price interfere, Harman found a very strong connection between technical excellence and actual perception of course this is on speakers where the biggest variations can be found. To say its all subjective is just a huge cop-out and allows manufacturers to pimp out any old crap, not mentioning any names.
Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment.
You should read some of the lamentable Stereophile reviews and then look at the measurements section for the same items. Very often a component that Nelson Pass would be utterly ashamed to sell is given glowing reviews including a cable with 10% distortion or a Transport/DAC with no response below 300Hz and 25% distortion !, some joker of a reviewer loving a cable with massive distortion means not that the measurments are unimportant but that the subjective reviewer is at fault.
Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass
The purpose of High Fidelity audio lies in engineering products that transport a signal along the chain with as little distortion as possible, so that what you get out is as near to the input as possible, lots of folks love Vinyl but rationally it is much lower fidelity than humble redbook, does this subjective preference make vinyl superior? no it does not. There is no excuse whatsoever for a CD Player or amplifier to substantially alter the input sound, that is what Equalzers are for. Good components (at transducers the level of deviation is too massive) should be utterly transparent. How can we tell if something is transparent , well there is something I cannot mention here, but measurements are a very good way of telling.
None of this prevents anyone from appreciating music reproduction to the full and you can do this equally as well with a competent Yamaha AX700 amp as with PASS Aleph Monoblocks (apparently) http://www.theaudiocritic.com/back_issues/The_Audio_Critic_24_r.pdf (page 7) The Yamaha measures rather better (but costs about $11,500 less) so perhaps Nelson is correct after all