What is meant when someone says a component is lacking soul

I have seen this mention in some reviews of the bell canto Evo 2i gen ii integrated amp.
when something "lacks soul" it is presenting the music in a analytical way, cold, accurate and detailed, but with no warmth or musicality that would otherwise make you want to listen longer and louder.

Matt M

A presentation lacking the hurdy-gurdies of dreams, the subjective bells and whistles of our symbolism factory...which are never really "there" in the first place.

can be applied to singers and musicians too...technically very good but no more...
"Soul" conveys the emotional impact, affecting your mood.  Like a good movie that plays on your emotions.  
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+ 1 wlutke - The sound doesn't do much or anything for you emotionally. Keep playing your favorite recordings on different systems and you will get it.

no soul=clinical, uninvolving

soul=more "body", perhaps even a little (horrors!) warmth

Recently had a glaring example of this when I sent my amp away for extensive modifications/rebuild and pulled out my slightly modded Adcom 555 back-up amp.  Gave it a couple weeks to come to life but never happened. What I wasn't hearing was any note decay, any hall sound.  The notes played but that was it.  Dynamically, it was like going from a Bosendorfer to a garden variety harpsichord.  No ebb and flow to the music!  No "life".  Or you could call it a lack of "soul".
 In my circle I might say of great sounding and feeling music playback "Man, that's filthy!"

IMO, "lacking soul" means flat or blurred dynamics possibly accompanied by alack of transparency and / or harmonic detail.

True musical detail is most often a matter of electronics that possess very accurate timing.  
It does not have to sound clinical or uninvolving to lack soul.  I build a DHT preamp that has a selector switch so you can use five different resistors.  Each one has a plus and a minus to the sound.  I found the naked Vishay to be very open and detailed, the Audio Note very sweet, Carbon was musical but kind of boring sounding but good for poor recordings, Shinkoh was emotional sounding, involving so maybe it had more "soul" and the Caddock was what I preferred in my system, kind of had it all.  With the Shinkoh you really felt like you were there when a singer really dug down deep.  You could really hear the effect of the singers lungs expanding and air rushing out so it was emotional sounding to people who heard the preamp when I switched resistors.  So IMO, more "soul".  The other resistors sounded excellent but in direct comparison were lacking in "soul".  Hope this was helpful.

Happy Listening.
Lots of great descriptions here!!!

"Soul" should be a term more relevant as to not need a separate post to receive a definition. 

I equate "soul" being the human element of sound reproduction almost exclusively regarding vocal reproduction. 
Any instrument played by a human being can reveal "soul" as the specific musician allows their creative individuality based on their emotions to shine through in their singing/playing.
Usually by this I think of electronics which excel in some measures, like low noise and distortion but sound somehow musically thin or compressed and lacking any sense of warmth or strength. Like using it sucks the joy or feeling out.

Really good examples were inexpensive HT processors/receivers that were out around 2010.