Hi,OK, this statement is the definition of reductionist!
There is so much more that goes into a great amp than the measured distortion. Your idea that there is some kind of perfect signal, and the amp's job is to stay out of the way, is flawed. The amp is changing the signal, which itself isn't perfect (and it's a non-perfect recording from a non-perfect mic, too). There is no perfect version of what you want to hear. This sound is being CREATED in your room, by electromechanical drivers, all of which have several orders of magnitude more distortion than any modern amp. I don't think there is a single amp reviewed in WHF with audible distortion.
Speaking of speakers, even if you could build a perfectly "flat" speaker, it would be terrible! It is well-known among speaker designers that if the midrange is too flat, listening fatigue sets in quickly, and much of the music will be inaudible at low volumes.
Low distortion is a good thing, but it doesn't equal better. How the amp and speaker interact electrically has a much bigger effect on the sound - things like damping/slew rate, max current draw, etc. A lot of THAT is more traditional engineering (which is to say, trade-offs and compromises to fit within a budget). It isn't convenient, and won't give you a league table, like a nice linear THD number, but it's the truth.
No, if you look at reductionist, it states "a person who analyses and describes a complex phenomenon in terms of its simple or fundamental constituents."
All i stated is that i don't want distortion from my amplifier. If you look at Doug Self or Bob Cordell texts, they aim to provide the techniques to reduce distortion. It can never be completely eliminated, but it can be reduced significantly - as per your Benchmark amplifier.
I agree the distortion from an amplifier is significantly less than a loudspeaker driver. As someone mentioned in the thread - the Bob Carver experiment showed a generic amplifier can sound the same as another amplifier if the distortions were matched. So, is the Carver experiment correct and people can hear low distortion from an amplifier ?
Whatever the person hears is up to them, but the claims of subjectivists do not mean that science does not have the answers. It does, they just choose to ignore them.