Some day we should get together and have a very long conversation about the social sciences and statistics... but not here, because Head-Fi would ban us.
Suffice it to say that I agree with your central points and will do my best to apply good review methodologies, particularly fairness -- including level matching -- as well as honesty/open-mindedness -- I truly have no preconceptions going into this test, and don't care which unit wins. I just want an entertaining competition.
As to my qualifications as an audiophile: for 54 years I have heard live music and a combination of analog and digital recordings, played on a wide range of equipment, ranging from old mono record players as a kid to the finest analog and digital systems some of the old audio salons in metro NYC and Washington, DC had to offer through the mid-90s. I was one of those people who spent rainy evenings and weekends at the stereo store, driving sales people and owners crazy. I spent hundreds of hours listening to everything... and buying very little. Maybe if I had bought more there'd be more such stores around today, but I think the big boxes and the internet did a lot more damage than I did.
I did step away from the hobby for over a decade, as other priorities demanded my time and money. But my nephew and nieces becoming musicians as teenagers over the past couple of years brought me back. I wanted to hear their music, but I couldn't stand listening to MP3s via cheap players and their included earbuds. I thought about going back to my old speaker-based system, but my house is an acoustic nightmare: all hard surfaces and odd angles, so audiophile headphones are really my only way to get the quality of sound I crave.
In addition to my experience, I also believe I have a very analytical ear/brain. I am able to focus on details within each recording, and to find differences in how various pieces of hardware reproduce those details. I do try to maintain some balance by stepping back mentally, to try to hear the whole song... but I will admit that, when I'm doing critical listening, I'm better at discerning detail, and differences in that detail, than hearing the whole. That's just the way my brain works.
If you read through my past reviews of headphones and amps, I believe you'll find the sort of language you are seeking, with extended (sometimes too extended... I admit I am pretty wordy) discussions of the characteristics of each piece of hardware. I try to be very precise in my descriptions, so that I convey exactly what I think I hear. I will use terms such as "warm" or "analytical", but I will also try to provide details and examples of why I concluded that the hardware sounds warm or analytical or dry or accurate. In addition, I will use analogies where I think they add perspective. Some of the analogies might not be typical for audio reviews, but I try to use examples that people can relate to, and can use to anchor their own understanding of the points I'm trying to convey.
All of the above being said, I am not a professional reviewer, and this is not going to be a professional review. This is for fun. For entertainment -- mine at least, yours I hope. If I can provide folks with useful information to help guide them in their future purposes, that's great, but I will always caveat this process by adding that this is all my opinion. My ears. My brain. I will always encourage people to try equipment for themselves before buying anything, or at least before buying something that can't be returned easily. That is one reason why I am so insistent on comparing hardware that can be demo'ed and returned relatively easily/cheaply. I want everybody to try lots of stuff before buying. That's how we can all work to keep the industry honest, to weed out the pretenders from the true contenders.
So everybody: read my words if you want. Or read every other thread on Head-Fi and Audio Circle, or whatever. But no matter what, please don't count on me or anybody else to make your choices for you. In the end, the only person who should be telling you what sounds best is you.
Gary always goes out of his way to answer the doubters....
If you want pretentious, over the top, "every body is better than everyone else" type reviews... head on over to one of the mag review sites, or one of the "professional" reviewers, too numerous to name.
Gary's reviews are honest. Perfect? No, none of us are. But, if he hates something, he is not shy about saying that, in his opinion, it SUCKS! Gary does an excellent job of describing what he hears. How one piece of equipment affects the musical presentation.
Kick back, check it out and enjoy the process. You don't have to agree 100% with his conclusions. That's not a requirement. What is BEST for YOU will still be up to YOU, but if you honestly listen to what he has to say, you will probably be able to get some good information and will get some useful comparisons.
And, if you're like me, you'll end up spending money to find out if he is right!