We believe that musical enjoyment from audio systems has two main origins:
Musicality: This is the foot tapping, goose bumping emotional response to what you are listening to. The musicality can be associated with certain characteristics of the sound such as rhythm, dynamic range and detailing blah de blah.
Musical Aesthetics: This is something that we think is very important. In fact we think at its extreme this is what separates audiophiles from people who just like music. Music aesthetic is an enjoyment gained from the quality of the sound regardless of the musical content. The aesthetic is associated with such characteristics as warmth, neutrality, naturalness, authority, balance and detailing and how these characteristics produce a wholeness of sound.
We believe that when you are listening to background music it is the musicality that is of most importance but when you are really listening to music the aesthetic quality starts to increase in importance. The level to which the aesthetic is important to each of us varies greatly. As an audiophile it can be that the sound is more enjoyable than the music. This may sound weird but it is why people like me spend a fortune on hi-fi equipment and why I think I have an advantage when exploring new genres because I can just enjoy the sound without being to fussed about the musicality, which may grow on me over time. My wife is tone deaf but loves music and can boogie to music on systems which I find intolerable due to their sound and this ruins the experience for me.
In our opinion lots of inexpensive systems can have great musicality but the musical aesthetic is wanting, but to a lot of lucky people this doesn’t matter and they still achieve great musical enjoyment.
We are making this distinction for two important reasons:
- When we review equipment we will try to critically judge the musicality and musical aesthetic.
- It may be useful for you to work out how important the aesthetic is to you because it will help you get the most from our reviews and justify whether to stick with the system you have or splash out on the higher echelons of hi-fi.
Some indicators the musical Aesthetic is important to you:
- Constantly fettling with tone controls.
- Finding some sounds as really annoying (such as the specific beep on our washing machine)
- Not getting as much enjoyment from background music or lesser audio systems.
- Noticing subtle differences in changes in audio systems.