The key question is how often will the extra amp oomph! matter for the majority of owners? I would contend that most of the time, it won't. It's a non-issue for most.
Now, if you've got difficult speakers to drive, play them very loud in a larger room, by all means, amp power w/lower distortion should be an elevated concern and a key purchasing consideration. But a blanket statement along the lines of "the amp section is gutted therefore you should avoid"
, is not very good advice either, especially if a potential user doesn't require a ton of amp power and there are new features that might have real usefulness to them in the so-called "gutted" lighter, new receiver.
In the case of the vsx-1019, better ipod/iphone versatility and user-friendliness, multi-channel ALC control, among a couple other new upgrades. Now, if none of those matter to a person AND they want to play it safe and have a more powerful amp 'just in case', by all means, a previous generation pioneer, yamaha, etc., might be warranted.
In other words, sweeping generalizations are not helpful. It could scare off someone for whom this receiver might be the best choice.
What does that all mean, the amp section still has balls basicly and music will sound clear . The marketing people use high THD levels about ten times more THD to keep the wattage figures level with units in the price range , but this is an old trick from the 70's.