Accurate vs Musical

What is the basis for buying an "accurate" speaker over a "musical" one? I am very familiar with most audiophile jargon but this is one that confuses me. Musical to me means that the speakers convey the "air" or/and overtone of instruments.

"Accurate" on the other hand is what, the accuracy of a single note? If accurate does not convey the space of an instrument, how can it be defined as accurate? I can understand why an "accurate" speaker can be used in a recording studio or as a studio monitor but for casual listening/auditioning?

Thiel is an accurate speaker but Magnepan is more musical so which would truly be more faithful to the original source? Someone please clear this up for me. Thanks.
False proposition.

Accurate certainly does not mean "single-note" accurate as you mention. First of all speaker systems don't reproduce notes in the sense an instrument does. The waveform is the total of all of the notes, fundamental and harmonics, being played as well as whatever constitutes ambiance. So to use "accurate" in the pejorative sense attributed to it by the subjectivists is wrong. An accurate speaker will strive to give you what was recorded, no more no less. So when a speaker is touted as being "musical" you can be sure the touting is done by subjectivists, who are very nice people indeed, albeit a bit confused and prone to proselytizing. Two things remain fundamental to proper speakers: accuracy in the frequency range and wide dispersion, the rest is all well and good, but should come in addition to these.

Since the whole thing is a game anyway and nobody really gets hurt (except maybe your pocketbook) listen to a wide array of speakers, but do try to limit the other variables (room, associated equipment and the music you use to evaluate) and just be open-minded and honest with yourself. You may wind up buying speakers you like. The one thing that was usually said about accurate speakers is that you wouldn't tire of them after the new wears off. This is quite probably true. On the other hand, you have some on the edges of subjectivist audio touting the merits of stereo console sound of years ago, so, at this juncture in hi-fi, anything goes.

BTW “accurate” is “musical” when the recording is!
substitute the word "analytical" for "accurate" and i think you can contrast speakers in a more meaningful way. speakers that specifically provide a wealth of detail are needed in a pro-audio application, so that engineers can nit-pick flaws when mastering a recording. but something else has to be done when considering placing a very resolving speaker in a den or a living room. that "something else" requires subjective testing with the goal of not only letting you hear everything but also achieving the goal- a sense of natural reproduction- and that is greater than the sum of the parts. not that some people actually perceive resolution as the ultimate objective and PREFER that route, and many times will spend as much time and effort on their listening room as their components. i know one such person that has transformed a room in his home into "one large speaker" with his stereo speakers acting as a "baffle within a baffle". I otoh have the opposite personal bias in that i would rather not take down the artwork and remove the furniture, but i still want naturalness with a good measure of detail thrown in.
Excellent point, Ebonyvette: a very justified mystification, and one that has had me reading b/ween the lines to understand.

Etymologically, an "accurate" speaker will be "musical" or xyz, or whatever the signal fed into it is. Pbb explains this above very well (I would disregard the "subjectivist" & objectivist & other incidental "-ists", however).

As usually used, neither term is "accurate". "Musical", undefined is audiophile mumbo-jumbo: quite appropriately, you defined "musical" above. Most people don't define either term (inlcuding reviewers unfortunately) and use them indiscriminately. Likewise, for "analytical".

What is often meant by "accurate" it seems, is the reproduction of sounds without the energy, dynamic content and/or emotional impact of musicians playing, if you will -- i.e. music that sounds like the musicians are solving a mathematical equation, not putting their soul into the piece...
Or, do I mean "analytical":)?
Speakers should reproduce accurately the music contained on the recording. Speakers should not be another musical instrument imposed on top of the recorded music.
Some prefer one version of speaker to the other. You chose which fits your vision and forget the terms that audiophiles use.
I've always viewed it this way:

Accurate or transparent is what I like and want. Why? Because I've played music all of my life, and when I'm trying to learn a song, I want to hear what the each individual part is. What's the rhythm guitar doing, the lead, the keyboards. Consequently I grown accustomed to listening this way all of the time. I enjoy my music that way.

Musical is more blended and not necessarily that detailed. A person can sit back and enjoy the song as a whole without needing to or wanting to disect it.

Two examples of this in cables are the Stereovox HDXV (or Kimber D-60) digital cable (accurate) versus the MIT Digital Reference (musical), and more recently the new Basis power cord (extremely accurate) versus the Kubala-Sosna Emotion (musical).

Both accurate and musical are good, it comes down to this, when you sit down and listen to music, what's your pleasure?
All speakers lose their ability to be accurate once placed in a listening room. Early reflections, modal nodes, etc., all play a part in reducing the realism to a certain degree even if the speaker is 100 percent true to source.

Also, IMO, a more accurate speaker has the potential for being less musical since the accuracy highlights any flaws in the system, and in some instances make them unbearable - especially with digital sources. This is one reason some people tend to think not so highly of Thiels.

So if you're making a buying decision, the equipment connected upstream will be more of a factor in accuracy - at least the accuracy you are looking for - than the speakers' resolving ability.
The ideal would be a system that recreates, at the listener's ear, the exact waveforms of the performance that the artists originally performed or intended (specifying "intended" to take into account multitrack and synthesized recordings that never had an "original performance"). Frankly, that's way beyond our technology today.

The next best thing is to receate the PERCEPTION that the artists intended. This is more reasonably approachable, but requires study and research into "what matters" and "what doesn't". Much of what gets touted as demonstrating "accuracy" really doesn't matter very much, and much of what's ingnored does.

If we are measuring the things that matter, "accurate" and "musical" are the same.

I see it a bit (little) different.
Musical speaker is the one that tries to "emulate" or "simulate" the real live unamplified music.

Our hobby is a "game" of simulation of the objectivism deep down in our mind regarding our perspective of music.

Accurate speaker is the one that reproduces the recording sound found on cds or vinyls (or whatever media) including: the mastering skills of the studio engineer and/or producer, the recording equipment capabilities, different recording techniques (direct cut...), all the weakest links characterestics, like cables, power conditioning, power stabilization, microphones capabilities or types (tube ones for example), the mood of the group playing, the mood of the recording engineers and stuff, the maybe different geographical parts of the recording (voices in one studio in N.Y, instruments in other one in L.A), the succesfull or not mixing,the humidity in the studio, the different vibrations resonances or distortion, the money spend on a production, the musicians skills, the "spirit" of the recording or the boring routine process feeling, the material and/or quality of the cd/vinyl (180gr, 200gr, speed, gold, aluminum, blacks..) the serial number of pressing (the first cutted media sounds different than the last ones) .......................etc etc etc etc etc..

If I had to pick I'd choose the best possible musical speaker that gives me the choice to enjoy music and see it as a forest not as a sum of trees.
As the Ancient Greeks tought us I'd look better for the Golden mean between the 2 "versions" (accurate / musical), if there's such speaker.

But in the end of the line a musical speaker is also accurate and not the opposite. No I prefer to bypass the harsh voice's siblings of a bad recording of a bad engineer because he was boring doing his job, let the music prevail.

(Just some objective thoughts on the beloved hobby called "High-end or High-fi" IMHO).

Of course if I had to run a studio I'd picked an accurate monitor speaker to monitor the recording. In my hobby I don't have to monitor anything, JUST LISTEN !
* I forgot for the accurate speakers* the microphones placement and the numerous approaches in that matter.
How about the many parameters of accuracy? Tonal accuracy is different from accuracy with transients and decay. Electrostats do a great job with leading edges, while they fail to properly flesh out the "meat" of the instrument.

Phase problems can arise from crossover dissection. Once acclimated to wide-range drivers, XO'd speakers sound wrong even if they are fast and evenhanded with tone.

How about frequency coherency? The multitude of varying drivers found on multi-way speakers each have their own voice and dispersion patterns. A good designer can minimize these inconsistencies, but they remain. As a Zu owner, these problems are intolerable to me in the long term.

Some speakers like to play loud and their owners tell guests "THESE BABIES REALLY OPEN UP WHEN YOU PUT THE GAS IN 'EM". Other speakers simply will not play loudly without significant and horrible distortions. Frequency balance almost always changes significantly with volume.

How about speaker loading? One reason many people do not like Thiel speakers probably relates to the amplification used in auditioning, possibly which doesn't cater to Thiel's notorious load problems. Thus, the amplifier must be chosen to "hide" their brutally low-impedance loads in the bass frequencies. Properly matched, these speakers are ideal for some listeners.

Characteristics, above, always cater to some volume and music tastes better than others. There is no speaker which is unlimited by any of the factors, above, or others not mentioned here.

"Musical", to me, says "This component sounds very nice, and its errors are ones of omission. It does not try to extract the rats squeeking on Track 4 of AudioNervosa's 'Breakdown' record, but that's OK because it (they) sounded very nice and could be listened to for hours on end".

We audiophiles often scoff at such components, casting them aside as inferior. However, this might be just the ticket for the music lover who doesn't see equipment buying as a lifelong obsession. Is that listener more or less happy as they listen to their records? They listen and love, while we listen and obsess. Hmmm. . .
well designed speakers ALWAYS deliver on both counts. legendary brands names have 'many' examples that are proof...quad, duntech, dunlavy, rogers, dahlquist, ar, hales, chapman, essence, apogee, mcintosh, tannoy, jbl, advent, epi, ohm, harbeth, castle, spica, cizek.....and the beat goes on. the debate as well. each of these brands(i'm sure i've forgotten some) have built flagship and entry level speakers alike that still compete with the most expensive speakers today on the musical and accuracy fronts. they also don't fall apart with an even larger variety of tube or ss components. god bless this hobbyjaybo
Here's another view to add to the confusion. I used to have amps that drew images with razor sharp edges and I thought they were great until they were eventually replaced with ones that weren't quite as precise but tied everything together into a whole. I found the latter much easier to listen to and less distracting. While it sounded more natural, it lost some attention.

It's hard to listen to the sound with all that music going on. My system isn't trying to impress me anymore, despite the five and half foot tall speakers and 300 pounds of amps.
I without a doubt believe there is a difference. I have heard speakers that reproduce a recording perfectly but sounded sterile doing it. Musical to me is one that can reproduce these nuances with fluidity and emotion.

I still believe speaker building is one part science and one part art.
I have heard speakers that reproduce a recording perfectly but sounded sterile doing it
How can they reproduce a recording "perfectly" and yet sound "sterile"?
Unless: a) the recording itself is sterile OR
b) you prefer some non-linear distortion in the reproduction:)?
You probably mean s/thing else
I agree with Baroque in principle, though I would not describe the experience as "perfect".

I have heard some professional monitor speakers that were tonally accurate and would seem to be very good for mastering recordings, as the speakers were very balanced.

However, they were boring dynamically. They were speakers that I could respect but never love. In fact, my Gallo Ref. 3's were that way.

ALL stereo systems introduce colorations. The snobbish sounding "accurate" detail-monsters may excel at retrieval of minutae, while being inaccurate in other parameters.

Too many audioheads confuse detail with musicality, feeling that anything left out is experience missed. True excellence comes from balance, i.e. not leaving anything crucial to the message out while still retaining coherence, tonal saturation, and emotional communication.

Detail is not music. Detail is solely an objective checkmark on the mental checklist. It is not the same as semiconscious immersion and the wash of sonic waves that can disable analytical thought.

Listeners that cannot differentiate between these elements have not found "it".

Now, it could be argued that my thoughts are not centrally related to the question of the thread, but I think these elements lie at the center of this old question of audiophilia.
Baroque, how do you know that the speakers reproduced the recording perfectly? And if they hadn't reproduced them perfectly, would you have preferred the recording? I am confused!
I'm with Aball, why split hairs over tech jargon.
How do the speakers sound?
I recall hearing B&W's in a listening room yrs ago, my wife wanted them, so I told the guy to box em up.
I mean they sounded OK, but next to my Seas Thor's they sound like crap.
Was the 602's.
If a speaker has a certain fatigue level I avoid them, regardless of the band name, made famous by hype.
I am not impressed with brand name.
All I want to know is how do they sound to my ears.
Which is why I took a chance on the Seas' kit and WON!
IOW I love em

I see your point. My choice of words were not the best. What I meant was a speaker that has a ruler flat FR, limited distortion, and reproduces all the details but does not have the fluidity or emotion that a musical speaker has. I am not a speaker engineer so if it is "non-linear" distortion that evokes the terms i use then so be it. :)

Loudspeakers are reproducers, not "creators". At very best, they can be "accurate". The more accurate they are, the more they will produce that "air" you refer to - if it indeed exists on the recording.

Calling a loudspeaker MUSICAL is not much different than it it would be to call a Laser Printer "ARTISTIC".
"Oh yes, don't you just love how that Dell creates space around the black areas...The background is SOOOO White! The Hewlett Packards are just too resolving for me. Their lines look so etched." HUH????

IMO when someone calls any piece of audio equipment musical it means:
1. They just like how it sounds, and/or
2. Their reasoning has probably been impaired by reading too much gobbledygook in Stereophile and 6Moons.
Musical describes the speakers you like best. Accurate is what you call them when defending your choice.
Baroque lover wrote:

"I without a doubt believe there is a difference. I have heard speakers that reproduce a recording perfectly but sounded sterile doing it. Musical to me is one that can reproduce these nuances with fluidity and emotion.

I still believe speaker building is one part science and one part art."

If you have Seas Thor's then you like Accurate speakers Baroque lover. You have one of the most accurate systems for the money spent in its price class. There is nothing romantic about magnesium seas drivers except their low distortion and that systems accurate impulse and dynamic capabilites.

Accurate does not equal bright! Accurate is not sterile, Accurate is everything the music is. As an owner of ATC Anniversary 50's Accurate is simply beautiful.
Thank you for all of the well informed intelligent answers. Audiophiles on Audiogon Rule!
The term accurate speakers is surely an oxymoron.No speaker I have heard ever captures the scale and dynamics of the real thing.So how can it be accurate?
The only speakers that come close to real world dynamics are horns and they usually have flaws in other areas such as phasing.
Many dynamic speaker owners claim that their speakers are accurate but if these people have use of a good pair of electrostats for a couple of weeks and and then return to their speakers they will usually be amazed by the box and cone colourations of their speakers.
Most of us get used to a certain sound and then come to believe this is accurate.Any similar sounding speakers we also label accurate.So it is a silly term and completely subjective.Their are also cultural biases involved.

Accuracy means the acoustic signal coming out of the speaker is as close as possible to the electrical signal coming in. No more, no less.

Any thing described as musical means it is euphonic.
I'm with Bob P. and Pbb on this one. You could not have said it better. Accurate is supposed to produce what goes in.

Garbage in will be garbage out and an accurate speaker will not hide a bad source one bit, whereas a "musical" speaker can at least improve somewhat a poor input, granted at the expense of some detail/accuracy. I equate "musical" to a warm or resonant sound with added even harmonics; even harmonics are naturally part of music and voice and therefore sound rich and natural to our ears (unlike odd harmonics or IMD distortion which sound unnatural to our ears and are best avoided).
99.9% of all recorded music isn't 'recorded' to simulate LIVE music.....even LIVE performance stuff its engineered to sound LIKE a record. your records and your stereos where never supposed to make all recordings sound like live events.
You can argue all you want that there is no difference between musical and accurate. Using adjectives as such poses problems because people have different ideas of what they mean. I notice a difference so the average Joe posting within this thread arguing otherwise will not change my mind, as I won’t change his. As this is such a subjective hobby, my speakers must have “soul”. What does this mean? I’m not sure. The best I can explain it is making me forget about this silly hobby for 5 minutes and connect the moment with the music. That is my goal within this hobby and I have almost achieved it - a source away.

I'm a music lover first and foremost...

I’m Anti-Fi I suppose.

*The engineer will purchase a Porsche whilst the passionate aficionado will invest in the Ferrari. Poor investment? You bet. Is it worth it? You bet.*
for some reason my posts are not loging in
I said all this nonsense over tech jargon means zero.
Its how does the speaker sound.
I head the B&W's 602's. So I bought them.
Then I got the seas Thor kit.
BLEW out the water the B&W's.
So its how does the speaker sound. For musical accuracy I've found the Seas to be top dog.
These are very loose terms so there is no use arguing over them. Don't get hung up on the word games: "How can it be musical if it's not accurate", etc. We're trying to describe speakers in a very general way.

Accurate speakers try to get the objective things right. The details of the sound, flat frequency response, phase coherence, etc. Someone mentioned that the word "analytical" might better, although "analytical" sometimes has a negative connotation. The word "accurate" itself has become pretty controversial.

Musical speakers try to get the subjective things right. They are easy to listen to. The details might not be as clear but the music sounds "right" and the speakers don't draw attention to themselves.

The best speakers, of course, are musical ... and accurate!
Accurate includes musical IF music there is. Musical does not include accuracy, however, and 'imposes' music when there isn't any to be had.
I prefer to make up my own mind about whether there is music there or not and not have some other person's interpretation of what music I should hear.
Bob P.
Accurate. By accurate I mean accurate to the musical signals layed down in the original recording. Accurate to what the microphone(s) heard. Musical to one may not be musical to another. If the speaker accurately plays back the original waveform recorded in frequency, amplitude and phase, that speaker will indeed be musical. While it's not that difficult to find speakers that do the first criteria (frequency response) well, the second criteria (amplitude) is much harder (live music can have a dynamic range of 120db) The last (Phase accuracy) is also very difficult as the vast majority of speakers destroy the phase/time relationships of the original waveform. While some might argue that time/phase is not important, ask any musician if one member of the band playing eighth notes instead of quarter notes will be audible. This has been my experience over the past 30 years, YMMV
For me its all about the fatigue factor.
I can tell you my Thors have never given me fatigue. This is what I'm after. They are not harsh/grainy/smokey/bright.
I'd say they are neutral. Neutral is not the same as bland. They reproduce the exact image that is transfered through the amp.
I have a Jadis Orch Refer. Its a 60 pound intergrated, has 4 out tubes and 2 preamp tubes. Though its one of the few small tube amps that can push this 4 ohm speaker, it still is not bringing out all the potential of these speakers.
Yet I;m happy at the moment with the results.
If I run into some $'s I'll get a big Cayin tube amp/imported from france. the MK500
Maybe the big Orch's big brotther the DA60 might do a bangup job.
Then the speakers will meet their match.
I say all this to let you know an amp can hold back the fullpotential of a speaker.
songwriter, of course the musician playing eighth notes while the others are playing quarters will be heard, since he is playing twice as many notes in the same time! Has nothing to do with phase or timing!
what I was trying to say is that if you trow off the music's timing, especially like most speakers do delaying each frequency differently, you essentially destroy a portion of the musicality of the piece and make the brain work overtime trying to put things back into something intelligable. Thats how our brains are wired. Thanks for the correction.
I was having trouble with some new speakers that are very accurate. My wife and I both agreed that they were almost hard to listen to. The instruments and sounds were very seperate but did not blend into music.

I switched back to my more "musical/warm/textural" set up that frankly sounded amazing before getting the new monitors (don't ask me why I changed things).

Now that I had spent some time with accuracy, I noticed that things were nice and laid back with my old stuff but kind of muddled. Thanks to I put the new speakers back in the mix and tried using the multi-channel approach. I ditched the "seperate two-channel" side and ran everything throught my Boston Acoustics AVR-7120 receiver in PLII. Wow, now I have an accurate AND musical set-up. Thanks for the help velocitydls!

I am going to try it all the way now so I am getting a center channel speaker that matches the new L & R's and a Meridian G68. I'll report in on the progress.
I spent a couple hours setting up the G68 but there is a lot more there than I can figure out right now. The PLII is much better than before and the Trifield is pretty nice too but there is still too much "energy" or something that makes listening more a chore than a relaxing pleasure. I almost get a head ache thinking about listening. There is a lot of detail that I never heard before it just seems like "too much".

Anyone got any ideas? I don't have any room treatments or eq (I didn't have them before with my lower end but pleasant system), do I need them?
accurate: input=output. the reproduction of the recording is error free. all stereo systems are inaccurate. there is no perfect reproduction of recordings.

musical: the "sound" of instruments acoustically reproduced.
the sound of an instrument varies with the conditions of the performance venue.

as far as listening to music in the home, musical refers to naturalness of timbre. "It sounds real" is an indication of musicality.

one cannot not know the sound of a recording, so it is not possible to measure the inaccuracy of a stereo system.

in my opinion, accuracy is unattainable, so my focus is the sound of an instrument. i look for adjustments in my stereo system to get closer to the sound of an instrument.
here's another thing to consider.

the issue of musicality and accuracy may be irrelevant to the purpose of listening to music. it may not matter how you describe the performance of a stereo system as long as it satisfies your objective.

i visited a friend the other day and we were listening to the beethoven "kreutzer" sonata. he fell asleep during the last movement.

that is an indication of a great stereo system. sit down, listen and fall asleep, or lower your blood pressure. what difference does it make if the frequency response is restricted or if the stereo systems is low resolution? listening to music is preferable to taking pills.
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It's actually quite straightforward to me.
I would use the term "accurate" as an objective term to describe how well a speaker reproduces the exact waveform as fed to it, without any frequency troughs or peaks or other tonal coloration. Such speakers are sought after as a monitors in recording and movie sound studios, as they allow engineers the best chance to know exactly what is being recorded, rather than a sound any particular listener prefers.

"Musical" is a purely subjective term, and speakers described as such generally color the sound in some way that is pleasing to the ear of certain listeners, and not others.

I recently switched from some older Infinity RS monitors which I'd descibe as pretty accurate, to some B&W's which to my tastes are warmer and richer sounding - to me more "musical".
i think most of us can agree on the term "accuracy". "musical" refers to the sound of instruments.

all stereo systems are inaccurate and all cannot reproduce the timbre of instruments correctly.

what is instructive is to listen to a recording of an instrument that one has access to, such as an acoustic guitar. one can compare the stereo system's reproduction with the sound of the instrument.

if it is possible, record an acoustic guitar and compare the recording to the sound of the instrument--in the same room. such a comparison will provide an indication of a stereo system's musicality. this does not tell the whole story, as there are other instruments, ensembles and orchestras. comparisons with other instruments and ensembles may be impractical. a guitar is a good start.

musicality does not mean pleasing or less resolving than "accuracy". rather it refers to the characteristics of music,namely pitch, timbre and harmonics.

thus, if a stereo system is "musical" it reproduces the pitch, timbre and harmonics of instruments correctly. try accomplishing such a feat with commercially available recordings. have fun.
To me, accurate and musical are one and the same when you are listening to a well recorded cd/album on a decent pair of speakers. However, they are not the same when listening to a poorly recorded piece of music with bloated bass, sibilant vocals, ect. Accurate speakers will portray that music as it was recorded........very A-MUSICAL. A so-called "musical" speaker will make the recording more listenable, at the expense of some detail.

I classify a musical speaker as one which is euphonic, laid back and on the warm side of neutral. Accurate speakers to me are just dead-on neutral sounding, colored only by upstream electronics and cabling, room environment, and source recording.

Since i can't make up my mind which type of speaker i prefer, i am thinking of getting another set of speakers to rotate with my current pair of "musical" Quad 11L's. I love the Quads when i can crank them up, which is not too often in my apartment. They are just a little too polite for me at low volumes but are forgiving of poor recordings. I once had a pair of neutral sounding ads L520 speakers which were more involving at low volume levels. I need to get a set that sounds like those.

So there it is:
To me, accurate speakers are better at low volume and musical speakers are better when you can "crank it up".

ok, now time to duck and hide. i can see the arrows flying!

The way I understand musicality is that it also means the emotion of a musical composition that is conveyed to a listener. Be it by a musician, orchestra or a stereo system. Accurate system reproduces not only timbre, pitch and harmonics, but should also convey emotions.
If a certain set up makes you fall asleep, this system could be anything - accurate, musical. What it can also mean is that the recording you were listening to was a lousy performance, unworthy of any attention or the listener could simply be indifferent to the composition.

Given a proper recording and an appropriate performance, a musical set up should grab you, put you on the edge of your seat. Listening to an unfamiliar piece, it should make you wonder what's next.

So in my opinion, musical is also accurate.

Now accurate system can also be hard to listen to if the source recording is of poor quality. This is where the challenge is to strike a balance between accuracy, musicality and your level of tollerance of a particular set up.

As far as musicians, there are ones who are accurate and musical at the same time. There are others who are just accurate. Example of accuracy and musicality would be Heifetz, Oistrakh, Jacqueline duPre, Rostropovich. Example of accuary with much lesser degree of musicality if an above mentioned Yo-Yo Ma(great technique, but most of the time lacking in emotion in comparison to some of the greats).

Just my opinion. The way I see it and hear it.
hi paul:

musical has nothing to do with euphonic. musical contains the word music ? what is music ? pitch, timbre and harmonics. the issue of distortion is a non issue.

when you listen to a live performance you hear the sound of instruments. most stereo systems misrepresent, to some extent, the sound of instruments because stereo systems are not perfect and recordings are not perfect.

stereo systems are inaccurate. the distiction you make between so called accurate and musical stereo systems is incorrect. if you consider the definition of the words you will realize that stereo systems are not musical and not accurate. they will represent, inaccurately, the sound of an instrument, to some degree, which cannot be measured.

some hobbyists will attempt to "adjust" their stereo systems to sound more like instruments, while others will try to minimize inaccuracy. both are problematical efforts, because a reference is lacking. the sound of a recording is unknown and most do not have the luxury to record a performance in their listening room and compare the reproduction of the recording with a live performance, which would be an anecdotal approach to assess musicality.

i suspect that so called accurate stereo systems contain inaccuracies of an additive nature, while so called musical systems are inaccurate , subtractively. thus musical and accurate stereo systems will probably sound different, as understood in the connotative ways in which the words are used. but note well again, no stereo system is accurate and no stereo system is musical. it's all a matter of how inaccurate a stereo system is. any ideas on measurement o9f inaccuracy ?
some hobbyists will attempt to "adjust" their stereo systems to sound more like instruments, while others will try to minimize inaccuracy. both are problematical efforts, because a reference is lacking. the sound of a recording is unknown
As stated, the premise is correct. However, it presupposes that the objective is the (live) performance.
I don't think that this is a viable -- or correct -- pursuit for sound reproduction.
*For live music we go to a concert.
*To enjoy music, we can also listen to transistor radio, our cell phone, etc.
*A sound reproduction system offers enjoyment through two parametres:
--the actual music
--the system playing the medium on which the music is recorded.

Both variables are at play.

"Accurate", as you present it would indicate "closest to the medium (cd, LP, etc)" AND as you note, we have no real reference to the actual event even through the medium at hand.

So, I would suggest that hobbyists turn to adjusting their systems to "sound closer/more/better/etc" to the instruments.

I listen more to orchestral music and that is what I've (now) turned to.

I used to think that an "excellent" system plays all kinds of music -- i.e. offers the same level of enjoyment playing all kinds of music.
I'm not so sure any more. My system plays classical. I can also adjust it to offer enjoyment playing blues - but it needs an "adjustment.
BUMP I expected this thread to live on. I think every audiophile should own both! Speakers are getting very close and it seems the big decider is the listening room and mating it with the right speakers. Imaging is really important to me, any speaker will reproduce the sound of rain or water running down a stream but it's the speaker that images well that gives it shape, pulls you in. Accurate speakers that can't create an image are less involving than a pair of average speakers that can. If you find your speakers tend to favor one type of music to another they may be considered inaccurate though they're musical and involving in the right format. Personally, I'm looking for the holy grail. A speaker thats musical, involving, images well, can go loud and is accurate enough to play ALL types of music. 
"musical" is probably the most overused yet useless descriptor in the audiophile world. It tends to be a stand in for simply "I liked it."

Which is why the phrase I think I dislike most is the ubiquitous "sounds like music" when anyone is reviewing a system. If ever there was a pretentious phrase empty of any real useful content, that’s it.