Being a professor at the top university in your field must be a very different experience from being a professor at a top 20 university, which must be a very different experience from working at a top 100, 500, etc. university.
But how do these jobs differ? What are the qualitative differences between working at universities in different tiers? I'm less interested in pay and benefits -- more interested in the day to day experience.
My guess is that with research universities the ranking is not going to matter much in terms of the overall experience. At all research universities you teach, do research, and do service. The relative amounts vary, but I don't think it is strongly correlated with ranking within research universities. The quality of the students and colleagues and the available resources will have some affect on the experience, but in my opinion the personal work environment is much more important to the experience.