Musical Speakers - If you like that sort of thing.

I love it when people will post that a particular speaker may not be the most neutral or accurate or resolving, but it sure is musical. Ummm...why do audiophiles want speakers that are less musical? "My speakers make most music sound like rubbish, but they're the best I've ever heard".
Not everyone has the same goals in any hobby including music and audio. Neutrality and accuracy may be consider good things in general but not everybody values these most. So what? That's fine in my eyes. Variety is what makes the world go round. I could have 5 totally different sounding speakers in my system and enjoy each, though all cannot be equally accurate or neutral.

Personally, if I'm investing all my eggs in one basket however, neutrality and accuracy are generally attributes of systems that are keepers. Its a given for me also that the music will sound good. "Musical" means whatever somebody wants it to mean. it cannot be determined via objective measurements alone. Usually, in the end, all it means is that the music sounds good to them.

The people on this site are, for the most part, audio hobbyists. Audio hobbyists often (though not necessarily always) want to hear what is on the recording - for better or for worse. For many 'goners, that is precisely the point of this hobby. If a record is poorly recorded, they want to hear that when they play it.

OTOH, a less dogmatic music lover may want to optimize for best sound across his/her particular music collection - regardless of the accuracy of the reproduction. The problem recordings that I own are almost uniformly troubled in the same way - tipped up and bright. Therefore, I do like certain speakers that tend to ameliorate that problem - even at the expense of marginally degrading the sound of my better sounding records. Actually I roate thru more than one pair of speakers - largely for this very reason.

I don't know that one is better than than the other, but I think that the "accuracy" camp prevails here. Two different pursuits - two different goals. Truth vs. beauty, perhaps?

Marty, well said. I totally agree. However, I think that most audio hobbyist are balancing both interests. They are pursuing ulitimate accuracy, but they are also pursuing musical enjoyment. I mean if you've got zero interest in musical enjoyment and it's all about accuracy, you might as well be listening to test tones or something like that. And yes, I know that some people do. I've been to audio shows and wondered why we were listening to south american wood mouse mating calls. But for most people, I would guess that a big part of the goal of getting accuracy is because increased accuracy results in increased musical enjoyment. If that's not a big part of their goal now, it surely was when they started in the hobby.

This is true for me. I got into this hobby because I love music and a high quality system delivered better music. So for me, having the most musical system is the ultimate goal. No other goal really makes sense to me.
The longer I'm at this the more I could care less.about neutrality.

I want it to sound good to my ears at even the loudest volumes.

I want my music full, rich and never thin and fatiguing. Full bodied and room filling are also a must.The bass can be little loose or the highs a little rolled off etc...

In the end it better sound good to me even if it has to add or subtract from the recording to sound pleasing.

I share your wants but am not very forgiving in regards to loose bass, etc.

Few speakers I can afford other than the OHM omni's I have run for years satisfy these wants for me yet most consider them to be very neutral.
In broad terms the purpose of home audio reproduction is to recreate, as closely as reasonably possible, the perception of hearing a live performance. So-called "accuracy" that does not serve this goal is either irrelevant or incomplete.

Cannot define live sound as that depends on so many things that it is impossible to get a base point.

Many live events sound aweful and others heavenly.

Great sound to my ears is what this passion is all about. The only base standard that works is one's own preference.
The longer I'm at this the more I could care less.about neutrality.

I want it to sound good to my ears at even the loudest volumes.

I want my music full, rich and never thin and fatiguing. Full bodied and room filling are also a must.The bass can be little loose or the highs a little rolled off etc...

In the end it better sound good to me even if it has to add or subtract from the recording to sound pleasing.

We have similar wants. I've been swapping in and out various bits of gear over the last year, always dissatisfied with what I had heard. I began to realize what I really wanted, and thankfully my last two or three moves are working out well. Full bodied sound that projects forward towards me is a must. I like lots of detail too, or perhaps that's clarity. But to me it is a must that I be able to follow every instrument's line. If instruments bleed into each other than how can the melody of a song come through? It'll just sound muddy.

But I do value neutrality. The best speakers I've heard achieved what I wanted, but they were also quite neutral. At least when it comes to highs. I don't like elevated highs that become edgy and shrill. But generally I like knowing that my speakers are relatively neutral, as speakers that have large dips and peaks I'd imagine can really make certain albums sound poor, depending on the levels used on those particular songs.

But of course many things are important. Another big one is driver integration. I think it's the main strength of my Quad 12L2. You don't hear two separate drivers, but rather one piece of music where everything fits together, and the various instruments sound like they are playing off each other the way they should.

To address the OP, musicality to me means whether I am moved or not. Some speakers sound boring. Those that do not are what I'd call musical. Does the emotion, rhythm, and melody come through?
I generally agree that there are two aspects to this hobby, but I would frame them somewhat differently. For me, the two aspects are 1) the "illusion" aspect and 2) the "pleasure" aspect. I think of the first as being a more intellectual endeavor. Based on the information my ears are receiving, how much do I have to suspend my disbelief that I have been transported to the recording venue? The second is more emotional. Regardless of realism or lack thereof, is what I'm hearing stimulating the pleasure centers of my brain, or is it grating on my nerves? I decided years ago (after some difficult and expensive lessons) that my first concern must be with the pleasure aspect. So, for example, if a piece of equipment excels as creating an illusion of a soundstage, but the string section on that soundstage is reminiscent of fingers on a blackboard, then to heck with the illusion. I prefer a more euphonic blob of undifferentiated sound. That said, this is just the starting point. From the euphonic blob, future improvements should go toward enhancing the illusion while maintaining the pleasure. One could work in the reverse order, but why suffer while reaching for the ultimate goal, which is a pleasurable musical experience that creates the illusion of being in the original recording space?
One of the most basic truths in life is that we all like different things. It's no different in the world of music reproduction. As many eloquently explained above, many audiophiles like to be able to extract the smallest detail embedded in the record or CD and that's what tickles their brain. Others, like myself, want to be able to listen to the sound of music and be excited not by detail, but by the sound as a whole; the sum of its parts will put me in a different realm of experience; it's almost like being in a trance. I don't want to analyze; I want to experience. At the most basic level, it is a simple tap test; I've auditioned many a speaker where I could hear the artist's take a breath in and guess the length of the guitarist's nails, but was unmoved. The same music through a different speaker would make me tap my foot and nod my head saying, "yeah." That's musicality to me.
At the most basic level, it is a simple tap test; I've auditioned many a speaker where I could hear the artist's take a breath in and guess the length of the guitarist's nails, but was unmoved. The same music through a different speaker would make me tap my foot and nod my head saying, "yeah." That's musicality to me.

It is certainly possible to have both resolution and musicality (for lack of a better way of describing that which makes your foot start to tappin'). They are not necessarily exclusive one each other.
let me confuse the issue somewhat if i may. after many years of upgrading and changing out one piece of equipment for another, i finally got a pair of B&W 801s3
speakers, at one time considered the "audio end of the road" and my dream come true. they had excellent DEEP bass, superbly fast and transparent midrange, and good (if not great) tweeter, plus a newly simplified crossover (series-3). i loved them to death, and i still do.
but several years later opportunity knocked for me to obtain a (demo) pair of Eggleston Andra-1's, which had (still has) one of the best tweeters ever made. when they were finally delivered and set-up in MY living room, it took all of 5 minutes for me to wonder how i could have waited so long to get them- they were so much more integrated than the 801's, which spoke with 3 different voices instead of one. the dynaudio tweeter was a total revelation- sweet and smooth but still extended.
the bass was tighter, reproduction of piano was on a whole other level, etc. ad infinitum.
So, which speaker was more musical/more accurate? they were BOTH highly musical speakers, but the Egglestons were more of everything (and three times more expensive). later i upgraded them to Andra-2's, and they surprised and elated me all over again.
both speakers demanded great up-stream components and good recordings. But considering perhaps the alternatives- like some (cheap) boomy speakers obtained from "best buy" that gloss over bad recordings, or even expensive speakers like the Wilson W/P-5's that were known to be analytical sounding in spite of being resolving and accurate, I know which speakers I prefer. The only problem is that it took ME 20-some odd years to be able to save up the money to get them.
I agree with Duke, and I will add that I think it is all an illusion, one big musical lie.
Some lies are better than other lies.
"She has an illusion, and you have reality. May your way be as pleasant. "

--"The Keeper" from the original Star Trek pilot episode 'The Cage"

The choice between accuracy and musicality is one that every audiophile faces sooner or later. Although I agree with Jax2 that accuracy and musicality are not NECESSSARILY mutually exclusive, in reality, one is often achieved at the expense of the other. When that happens, we have to choose between them. My impression of the audiophiles on A'gon is that, when cornered, the majority of them would choose musicality over accuracy. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

As Marty pointed out, the choice between accuracy and musicality is an example of the choice between truth and beauty. To some, that may seem an excessively philosophical way of putting it. But that is exactly what is at issue...

Accuracy might be thought of as the objective correspondence of the musical information presented at the ear during playback to the musical information either (1) presented at the microphone during recording, or (2) represented on the software. Either way, accuracy is the correspondence of a representation to reality. And that is what truth is.

Musicality might be thought of as a subjective experience in which musical playback evokes the perceptions and feelings associated with real music. Those perceptions and feelings, while diverse, have an element in common: the pleasure derived from form and content. And that is what beauty is.

So the choice between accuracy and musicality is a version of the choice between truth and beauty. In some contexts, there are moral considerations when choosing between truth and beauty. In a courtroom, for example. But in an audio system, when confronted with the choice between truth and beauty, there is no right or wrong. There is only preference.

Having said that, the changes to my system that I have been the most rewarded by are the ones where accuracy and musicality BOTH improved as a result of the a single change. In other words, when I didn’t have to choose between truth and beauty.
What exactly is meant by accuracy? Is it simply timbral accuracy? Is it the fleshing out of all the details in the music? Is it separation of instruments so that you can hear all those details clearly? Is it flat frequency response, and full range sound?

Is musicality what is known as PRaT? Or is it a warm, rich sound (the tube sound, for example)? Tune vs. tone. I think everyone's definitions are slightly different - for me I think a system should be able to do both. I don't want music that sounds lifeless and slow, nor do I want music that sounds fast but also thin and distant.

If these are two extremes along a continuum then in the middle lies a compromise. Maybe solid state gear that leans to the warm side of neutral, with speakers that do the same and use soft dome tweeters, cabling is all copper. Maybe insert tubes somewhere. Or an all tube setup that leans to the brighter side, and uses speakers that measure flat and have lots of pace.

There are so many combinations of gear, and so many different kinds of rooms you can put them in, that I don't think it's one or the other, accuracy or musicality. I've opted for a solid state system like I've described above and I feel like I've got a nice mix of both. It's not the best system by any stretch, and it may not do either thing to it's fullest, but it somehow manages to not embarrass itself with either. It only took a year of trying various components to get the mix right - frustrating for sure, but worth it in the end.
"What is accuracy"

Its getting the signal present in the source material (record, CD) through in a cleanly amplified electrical state to the speakers so the speakers can then attempt to accurately convert the signal into sound.

Another way to look at it is that the system as a whole operates within certain tolerances in performing this task overall.

How accurate the end result actually is compared to the original performances that comprise the recording is a combination of how the performances were recorded and then how well delivered through the audio system (and the room it plays in) to your ears.

How accurate this whole process is in regards to what was originally played is highly variable and debatable to the extent that the quality of the end result is highly subjective, but again only within certain tolerances to be considered "hifi" reproduction. Individual tolerances for what sounds good vary widely as well.

In other words, don't sweat it too much and just enjoy the music!