Distortion, I deserve no credit for that great adjective, it was put forth two folks a lot brighter than me.
I'm lucky enough to own a Granite 657 CD player, which features both tube and solid state output. And, as I put forth in the "Useless Adjectives" thread, my experience with this player perfectly mirrors my experiences with tube and solid state amplifiers. It just so happens that my opinions are completely opposite of the way things have always been described.
Tube sound to me is very open, clear, and engaging. I simply hear more detail with tubes. And, no, they are not sluggish or slow, either. Quite the contrary. The midrange of tubes is simply incomparable. Treble, can be sweet or glaring, but that often depends as much on the tubes themselves as well as the room and rest of the system. I also tend to feel tubes have more dynamic range, but I'm sure someone's going to take issue with that statement. Maybe I'm using the wrong adjective, but what I'm trying to say is that I hear more variation in volume with tubes. Tubes are not as full bodied or rich in the low frequencies, which provides the foundation for the music.
Solid state is richer, more relaxed and liquid, and more powerful and full in the low frequencies. Often, the upper mids/lower treble of solid state can be far easier to take with solid state. While what I'm saying may sound off the wall, if you look at the impedance curve of a loudspeaker, it really makes sense. In this area, many, many speakers today exhibit a sharp rise in impedance, which is where a tube can put out the most power, and as such these frequencies can sound more tipped up. Solid state exhibits the opposite effect. If you're looking for that "pipe and slippers" sound we had a bit of fun with, I have to go against the grain and say you're far more likely to find it with solid state.
The Granite offers me both. So, which do I prefer? Well, I like having the option of using either. I switch between them based on the music I'm playing, mood, and even what room/system I have the player in. But, to be truthful, because of the volume control of the tube output section, I use this one more in absolute terms.