Hoo boy! You got me there!
(I have a $400 Yamaha receiver myself.)
They as in the equipment manufacturers themselves? I find that hard to believe but I may not be getting that pronoun's reference correct. I guess what I'm getting at here is that the amp, regardless of how neutral it is, has different flavors of neutrality or warmth or whatever.
No. Think of neutrality as transparency. A neutral amp does nothing but just add volume. No change in sound quality- all of the specs well below the thresholds of human hearing. All amps should be audibly transparent. The reasons to choose one amp over another are power and features, not sound quality.
The emphasis here is now shifted from subjectively picking equipment that you like soundiwse and instead picking equipment which will objectively make your system just run so that you can personally change the sound output via your EQ. The EQ becomes the keystone of your system's inherent sound, the rest is just there to provide a signal path, power, and other basic needs. Does this make sense?
Exactly. And if your amp burns out, you go out and buy another one to replace it and pop it in your system and everything still sounds the same.
To bring this back around to OPs post, you've a tube amp and a solid state amp which display the same numbers on paper (tough, if not impossible but let me use this fantasy for the purpose of the discussion); thus on paper the two amps should sound roughly the same.
In theory, two amps that measure the same should sound the same... even tube amps. But in practice tube amps have much higher distortion levels. Some people like the distortion. I prefer clean.
Edited by bigshot - 4/18/14 at 3:14pm