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".

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!