How would you define a system that is musical in nature

i’m in the process of creating a new audio system, and would like to know how do you define a system as musical in nature vs a system that is analytical in nature…let’s start here, and hope to learn.

Musical is a term that you get to know as soon as you hear it, you will know by then. For me it means that the music is in the foreground, not bass or treble or transients etc. It’s when you forget about the rest.

Even very good and non fatiguing setups can be only in a limited way musical. It’s when they imprint a certain characteristic (even if it’s a positive one) to any music. This can be a knaggy or overly dry or strong or always deep bass or a certain kind of good but too ostensible treble.

Musical is when you don’t miss any revealingness but also hardly recognize it’s presence.

How to achieve? Certainly by a certain quality of components and in the first place coherence, but especially a synergistic combination of them that also matches your environment. That’s why you can’t buy it, even for a lot of money, but have to invest quite some effort. The alternative to a long journey is to involve someone with real experience and little own agenda.


what would you suggest, i’d start with the speakers and work back, some speakers i should consider?

Yes starting with speakers makes sense. Which ones strongly depends on your preferences (in characteristic, music) and your room and placement options as well as budget.

Also if you’d say, you don’t want tubes or don’t want solid state electronics on principle, this would influence speaker choice.

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A room node calculator might give you a hint, what bass extension you should look for or not, depending on pressure zone of room nodes related to your placement options.

Say, if you choose a too deep reaching speaker which you can only place 3 ft from the front wall and this is the pressure zone for 30 Hz, you know what problem you have.

But if you have a chan e to try things, that’s always better than theory.

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A musical system is one in which I get lost in the music and don’t attempt to pick it apart, analyze it or over think it. It tends to float in the air with a sense of the performance in the room.


Very well said!
Musical? Very difficult to define, for me it’s having an emotional experience to the music being conveyed by the components but not centered on them

One of the sales consultants at a local shop has LaScala’s driven by 30 watts of class A (Accuphase) Brinkmann Bardo/Koetsu Black. I’ve heard it twice and both times I walked away thinking “ that was one of the most musical listening sessions I’ve experienced”



For me the best clue for a musical system is one that plays on my emotions and makes me want to relax and and forget about the system and enjoy the music…A analytical systems performance plays more to the cerebral part of the process…thinking more of the equipments effect on the musical performance of a recording. The key is getting both parts combined into a whole according to what works best for you.

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Music sounds like music, not simply sounds. It holds you in the hot seat, rather than sending you for the exit. You can clearly identify instruments. Has character, has “faults” has a presence.

Analytical has bright (harsh?) edges to the sounds. Clean but boring.


:+1:t2: I love describing musicality of a system as “character”. I always struggled to break down or reduce musicality to individual disciplines such as dynamics, three dimensionality, or bass control. It is definitely a character of the system or setup rather than an attribute. It is the combined refinement of everything.

I actually think i’m beginning to understand this difference. Are there any brands of speakers to avoid (too analytical) ?

Years ago i had a pair of those huge Polk SDA SRS 1.2tl speakers. I do remember listening to live concerts and being so absorbed by the music that nothing else was happening around me.

As i attempted to improve speakers, amps, etc… i never achieved that sense of wonder. I’m at the point that i get aggrevated when i listen to my system

If my toes are tapping or I’m doing my air conductor schtick, it’s musical. Deep analysis of what’s happening not required. :slight_smile:


i finally get it…now i want to achieve it. How do i go about doing that.

Let’s face it, very few audio stores around anymore, let alone those with equipment setup properly. None of the stores lend equipment, etc…

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All legitimate ecommerce retailers are backing their products with money back home trials. Ditto an increasing number of direct to market manufacturers. Do as much research as possible. Then take the plunge. Expect to hit some dead ends along the way. That’s what an in-home trial with money back guarantee is about. I’ve lost count of the number of iterations it took to get it right. Not a single audiophile on this board found nirvana on the first try. That journey is part of what makes this hobby so interesting.


Musical and analytical are not mutually exclusive.

“Analytical” is not pejorative unless you define it to be so.


I think the term ‘musical’ should be banned. Having said that I’d love to hear a live track such as Hugh Masakela Nomali (from the Hope album) on my highly revealing system versus someone else’s so-called ‘musical’ system. I suspect a massive highly revealing system would do it the justice the track deserves.

The most “musical” systems I’ve heard are the ones that come closest to producing sound that my brain recognizes as having key characteristics of live acoustic music. No system is going to fool anyone into believing a live performer is in the room (or, conversely, that the listener is in the performer’s environment), but some can come close, and I suspect each one of us has certain audible cues that trigger our individual brains’ “recognition” of a live sound. For some it might be instrumental timbre, full-range frequency response, transient reproduction, imaging, the almost tactile (and borderline violent) sense of air being moved by a kickdrum strike. I suspect the number and variety of these cues could be as many as there are individual listeners.

When I experience a system with any or many of those qualities, my brain is fooled, if even just momentarily, into thinking it’s hearing a live performance. Perhaps paradoxically, hearing sound like that allows me to focus on the music and not the sound.

All of this is not to dismiss musical enjoyment found in other ways. Who among us hasn’t been carried away by music on a car radio, for instance? The mysteries abound. :wink:


Happy Cake Day @danofesherintheuk !

Hey onehorsepony…

Assuming you already have the gear already.

In my biased opined .02 build from the ground up.

Starting with a regenerator that best suits your amp and front ends best.
Next good power cords.

This alone will raise your system’s sq to a whole new level…
cannot underscore that enough.
Have been the entire route on these can highly recommend.

with my system:

P15, Pangea AC9SE MkII AC14SEMkII power cords, Oppo 205
Wyred4Sound STP SE Stage 2 with Vishay foil resitsor stepped
attenuator Shotkey highspeed fast recovery diodes…Emotiva XSP 1Gen2
preamps, Parasound JC5 Class A/Ab amp driving Focal Aria 948s

My system creates a very immersive holographic highly detailed
soundstage that performs way beyond expectations !!

All of my gear was home trial…Music Direct offers a 60 day money
guaranteed home trial…My Focals and JC5 were sourced from them.

For the heavy stuff Music Direct weather wraps and palates the boxes
ships via R&L carriers …products arrive in pristine condition.

I know this response went off topic but the question was asked…
so I offer up a detailed answer as possible.

Best wishes on your journey.