It's entirely possible that my system has more distortion than his. There was a lack of detail, which I attribute to the DAC in his deck because it sounded exactly like my x930bt did. Maybe McIntosh or ZED does imprint some signature to my music, that is entirely possible. Prehaps his system wasn't tuned entriely to my liking as well, but his levels sounded very good. All I am saying is his systen may benefit from a better deck. To my ears, if you have a more detailed signal it also sounds warmer and it is not necessarily being generated solely by distortion. .
Distortion isn't a bad thing, we like it and music played back through speakers sounds bad without it. It's better to minimize the distortion before the speakers add their own, of which it's significantly more than any other part in the chain. I don't have the experience you have with high end brands that cater to audiophiles, but I believe in the science of audio and the many ways our perceptions can be altered. Even simply knowing beforehand what brand of speakers you're listening to will affect your judgement.