>All the modern nikons come from the factory set soft ..you >need to set the sharpness at +9 and contrast at -1
Not all; maybe not even most. I'm jumping to Nikon's defense here.
After having gone through 16 Nikon digital SLR bodies over the years, I've only encountered three that needed a basic sharpness or contrast tweak to get cleaner JPG files. My D70 and D70s produced superb JPG files. A backup D40 and D60 and another D60 used by my wife produced remarkable JPG files. My D300 and D300s both needed a slight sharpening increase (+1 over the default setting), and a second D7000 needed a sharpening and contrast tweak (+1 over each of the default settings). Everything else has also produced sharp photos (JPG and NEF) right out of their boxes: D200, D700 (x2), first D7000, D800, D3, D3s.
I think it's obvious that variations in factory calibrations exist. But I don't think that Nikon production and testing specs are set up to package bodies that produce soft images.
Then again, it depends on what you define as a soft image. Nikon has developed and promoted its own particular look, and it's certainly easily identifiable and notably different from the Canon look (which many feel is crisper in some respects). Lab analysis of high resolution detail of Nikon and Canon test shots though, reveal more about the processing approach programmed into internal camera image data processing system, sharpening philosophies related to that, and the calibration of the monitors used to view photos afterward, than it does about any material differences in image sharpness.
But even if it has nothing to do with comparisons with other camera makers, sharpness is still too often a matter of perception. Could be too that your visual acuity and perception of edge definition and fine detail is just really, really good and you're simply a better observer who exceeds the averaged acuity target that Nikon uses during factory calibration. I have a good friend with vision like that - I'm envious. I guess it wouldn't hurt some of the camera and lens makers one bit to improve the calibration and testing standards they're using.