Does 'Accuracy' Matter or exist ?


In the realms of audiophilia the word 'accuracy' is much-used. The word is problematical for me.

In optics there was once coined a descriptor known as the ' wobbly stack', signifying a number of inter-dependent variables, and I believe the term has meaning to us audiophiles.

The first wobble is the recording, obviously. How to record (there are many microphones to choose from...), what kind of room to record in (an anechoic recording studio, live environment etc), where to place the chosen microphones, how to equalize the sound,
and, without doubt, the mindsets of all involved. This is a shaky beginning. And the ears and preferences of the engineers/artists involved, and of course the equipment used to monitor the sound: these too exert a powerful front-end influence. Next comes the
mixing (possibly using a different set of speakers to monitor), again (and of course) using personal preferences to make the final adjustments. My thesis would be that many of these 'adjustments' (EQ, reverb etc) again exert a powerful influence.

Maybe not the best start for 'accuracy', but certainly all under the heading of The Creative Process....

And then the playback equipment we all have and love.....turntables, arms, cartridges, digital devices, cables, and last but never least, speakers. Most, if not all, of these pieces of equipment have a specific sonic signature, regardless of the manufacturers' claims for the Absolute Sound. Each and every choice we make is dictated by what? Four things (excluding price): our own audio preferences, our already-existing equipment, most-importantly, our favorite recordings (wobble, wobble), and perhaps aesthetics.

Things are getting pretty arbitrary by this point. The stack of variables is teetering.

And let us not forget about the room we listen in, and the signature this imposes on everything (for as long as we keep the room...)

Is there any doubt why there's so much choice in playback equipment? To read reports and opinions on equipment can leave one in a state of stupefaction; so much that is available promises 'accuracy' - and yet sounds unique?

Out there is a veritable minefield of differing recordings. I have long since come to the conclusion
that some recordings favor specific playback equipment - at least it seems so to me. The best we can do is soldier on, dealing
with this wobby stack of variables, occasionally changing a bit here and there as our tastes change (and, as our Significant Others know, how we suffer.....).

Regardless, I wouldn't change a thing - apart from avoiding the 'accuracy' word. I'm not sure if it means very much to me any more.
I've enjoyed every one of the (many, many) systems I've ever had: for each one there have been some recordings that have stood out as being
simply Very Special, and these have lodged deep in the old memory banks.

But I wonder how many of them have been Accurate........
57s4me
Agreed -- and well stated. As another A'gon poster said, we have to go with our ears, which obviously is a highly subjective exercise. Take a look at an OP that asks members to list their favorate speaker. At last count, there are over 1300 posts. WOW!! So much for "accurate" speakers. BUT -- that doesn't mean that of the 1300 posts, 1299 are wrong and one is correct, not by any means.
Accuracy is a nice and noble goal and there are so many ways to get there. Too bad someone hasn't thought of them all at once. But they keep trying.
It matters, but it doesn't exist. Only perceptions exist. Not even speakers.
I agree with the analogy up to a point. The thing in my mind is that IF the wobbly stack is really close to where a straight stack would end up, then we do have a semblance of accuracy.
It is all relative anyway. Sort of an impossible to reach goal.
But a lot of stuff is pretty good, as long as we accept that it is going to not be 'perfect'
And so 'accurate enough' is good enough for me.

I do understand the problem of writers saying something is accurate.. when that wobbly stack is ever present, and can crash down anytime.
All of the above, plus the fact that we have ears of varying accuracy.
Of course accuracy both matters and exists.

It can be measured as well as heard.

Although most here clearly prefer the added colorations that come with the setup they have.

Perhaps difference matters more than accuracy - above all people here want a system that sounds and looks very different from run-of-the-mill.
When it comes to electronics, accuracy matters, that's why there is not a lot of difference between the top amplifiers when you compare tube to tube and solid state to solid state. However, once you get back to cartridges, speakers and everything else; you have the "wobbly stack".
accuracy can only be understood in the context of a 'standard', given that every bodies standard would be different, it all becomes meaningless.
In audiophiles??
Gimme break neva!
Shadorne,
There`s no absolute standard to judge accuracy in home audio systems/components for the very reasons mentioned in 57s4me`s fine post. Far too many variables and manipulations are involved in the sound reproduction chain to declare anything as accurate. By it`s very nature the performance of audio components is relative, subjective and just based on individual perception(which is just fine with me). Measurements are woefully inadequate(here we go again!) when trying to explain what it is we hear and respond emotionally to(music afterall is an artform that people connect to). What measurements are you aware of that provide indisputable standards for accuracy? When all is said and done the vast majority of music lovers/ audiophiles will rely on their ears, as they should.
I think the op has a good point. Perhaps in this business from the perspective of the final listener or equipment reviewer "accuracy" has little value. "Detail" (as in the amount of sonic information or 'bits' revealed), "tone" (as in tone relationships within a piece of music), "timbre", "timing", "attack", etc, all lead to the illusion of a "real" facsimile of a live or studio performance, and are really what we might be trying to capture when we say something is "accurate". In fact, our systems may be very "precise" (as in they reliably produce the same results when fed the same source material), and precisely inaccurate, but if they are "music" to our ears in our room, then it is all good.
To Bifwynne,

It's funny you mention the 'favorite speaker' thread. It was this that prompted me to my post!
It may be an elusive quest, but without it, we're lost.
I no more think of "accuracy" when I'm attending a live musical event, as when I listen to music at home. Nor would I think of "accuracy" in terms of optical performance when viewing a photograph (in the latter it's so far from the point as to being utterly ridiculous - There are magnificent photographs that do not rely on great optical performance, and I know it's besides the point of how the reference is being used). Ultimately, it either moves me, or it does not. I might use "accuracy" as a very relative term to qualify why something sounds right to me. In the case of music, indeed it could have something to do with how "real" it occurs to me at home (the closer to "real" the more it seems to consume me), but what sounds "real" to me may not occur that way to someone else, so what's the point. "Accuracy" implies an objective standard to me. The enjoyment of music an subjective art form.
It may be an elusive quest, but without it, we're lost.

Without it, we'd probably enjoy the music with one less distraction circulating around in our wee brains taking us away from becoming lost in (enjoying) the music. Of course some of us, in the absence of that particular carrot on a stick, would surely find some other to keep themselves on an everlasting quest for something that exists only in their own mind.
Jax, There probably isn't a right answer here but let me take up the case for accuracy in hi fi equipment. If you are a musician playing a live event you most definately are interested in what the room ( a hi fi equipment surrogate) is doing to your sound. You play the music as you intend it to be heard and then the room modifies it to a greater or lesser extent. Playing loud rock in a small room is challenging and playing acoustic jazz in an overly damped room is also challenging as examples. Bad rooms exist. You the listener may like the way a particular room (hi fi equipment) colors the sound and thats fine. It's your set up. Here's where the problem lies IMHO. A colored hi fi set up will ( as examples) ALWAYS add 6db to the mid bass and/or ALWAYS shelve down high frequencies making it impossible to ever hear the music as it was intended to be heard by the musicians. This might be preferable in certain poor recordings but not in good or a great ones. You will NEVER hear the music as it was played in the studio. My preference is to really "get" what the musicians are playing and to put up with the bad recordings that come along instead of covering them up with a veneer of "warmth" or "slam" or what ever. - Jim
When it comes to electronics, accuracy matters, that's why there is not a lot of difference between the top amplifiers when you compare tube to tube and solid state to solid state. However, once you get back to cartridges, speakers and everything else; you have the "wobbly stack".

SET amplifiers don't measure up very well at all. Yet there are many who prefer them over amplifiers that may objectively measure more "accurate"

Charles1dad - excellent post.
Jax2,
Thanks for the compliment.
Your example of SET amps is right. After owning various SS and PP Tube amps, I settled down with an SET amplifier simply because it sounds closer to the live jazz acoustic music I adore. I don`t doubt that it would measure worse than any of my previous amps at all.
It doesn't exist and no, it doesn't matter.

"Without it, we'd probably enjoy the music with one less distraction circulating around in our wee brains taking us away from becoming lost in (enjoying) the music."

Indeed I agree with Jax and Charles1dad. Accuracy is relative, it is not exact because it is ever changing. Even if a particular component could be quantitatively and subjectively by concensus identified as "accurate", when placed in a mix of other components with so many variables and then adding in the room it is going to have a specific sonic identity as you state 57s4me. But you really know the answer to this question, it is really rhetorical. The only thing that matters is enjoyment it is the only thing that is real and if it doesn't stay that way, time for a change.

You would have to compare the top SET amps in order to have a standard, and those amps would have to have similar, if not the same tubes.
The only thing that matters is enjoyment it is the only thing that is real and if it doesn't stay that way, time for a change.

Amen. End of story.
2nd amen, tubegroover, it just can`t be said any better.
I think we can all agree that complete accuracy has yet to be achieved in audio playback (heck, one could argue it hasn't been achieved in real live time). If we accept that, then we can consider that there is total accuracy and there is specific accuracy. In lieu of complete and total accuracy, some of us prioritize what aspects of accuracy we deem necessary for audio playback to be enjoyable. It's obvious that, for example here on Audiogon, some posters feel that dynamic range a priority and some other feel that tonality is a priority, and others have other varying priorities. Of course, this is a simplistic model just for the discussion at hand. Most of us have a rather complex list of priorities, and even those priorities can change with time or in relationship to those elements that comprise priorities with each other. Others, abandon accuracy in pursuit of what they just like the sound of. IMHO, that's like wearing rose colored glasses to view the contents of The Louvre. The point being that, though most of the systems that emphasize different priorities may not sound identical, they may break from total accuracy in different but equal ways, or not. If we start to disregard accuracy altogether, we are not likely to ever achieve it.
We seem to have two entirely different conversations going on simultaneously. A non technical "audiophile" conversation and a technical question. While the non technical answer has been given, no one has engaged in the technical question.
Unsound,
No one here is disregarding accuracy, but merely pointing out the obvious truth that no standard has been(can be?) establish. People often site warm/musical,rich etc. as looking thru "rose colored lens" while ignoring the other spectrum of coloration/aberation i.e. thin,lean,bleached,flat,whitish etc. As if these somehow represent accuracy, no way jose. For me ,the quest has been toward what sounds natural and realistic(personal preferences no question).
What measurements are you aware of that provide indisputable standards for accuracy?

Frequency Response
Harmonic Distortion
Signal/Noise
Waterfall Plot
Group Delay
Phase
Impulse Response
On and Off Axis Frequency Response
Jitter Tests
Intermodulation Distortion
Cross-talk
Thermal Compression
input impedance/output impedance

...just to name a few objective qualities. No piece of gear is indisputably accurate (perfect) according to these criteria but some gear is simply so much better than others.

Of course anyone is entitled to subjectively not like accurate gear...in fact that is often the case, as aesthetics are usually far more important to audiophile perception.
My question is always accurate to what
The live sound in the studio
The playback in the control room
The master mixdown
The sound in the mastering room
The sound is different in each of the above examples so no one knows exactly what the recording should sound like. Forget accuracy and put together a system you enjoy listening to

At last, someone has introduced some objective measurements. Although many audiophiles are unaware of the significance of these measurements, they matter "subjectively" as well as "objectively".
Charles1dad, I'm not sure why you would think that some sets of deviations from neutral would be judged differently than others. Though, I might understand those that feel, that all other things equal, and please pardon the cliche'; "sins of omission are less offensive than sins of commision.". I would argue that accuracy would more likely produce natural and realistic.
"Of course anyone is entitled to subjectively not like accurate gear...in fact that is often the case, as aesthetics are usually far more important to audiophile perception."

Shadorne you make some compelling points about measurements. But measurements to me are nothing more than a tool in evaluating a product prior to consideration, nothing more. I really don't necessarily agree with you that aesthetics are important to audiophile perception. I USED to be swayed by such things but it means absolutely nothing to me so far as making choices. This isn't to say that aesthetics aren't without value, they can certainly sway the other half all other things being equal at least from her end of the deal:)

The REAL problem I have with measurements which has grown over the years is that they don't necessarily equate to a desired result. I think they are absolutely important in designing products but I can't help but remember what David Berning wrote in a response to a review in choosing tubes over SS, "I have always placed the importance of subjective sound quality over measurements. It is not possible to build an amplifier with output transformers that has measurements that will compete with a direct coupled solid state amplifier"

The point is really obvious. As Jax notes above an SET amplifier is NOT going to measure as well as a SS yet some folks prefer the presentation that these amplifiers offer. Is this really an issue of measurements or is there something else that simply can't be quantified that our brains readily identify but the measurements can't. I don't want to start a tube vs ss debate because that isn't the point, it is a matter of preference. As Unsound wisely points out, we all have different priorities. Ideally we would want ALL characteristics that make music appealing to us met but in absence of any component delivering all aspects of performance whether it be tonality, dynamic contrast, soundstaging, imaging, low level detail etc., we make our choices based on our priorities and budget. This whole thing concerning accuracy is irrevelant if it doesn't meet our needs and raise our enjoyment. After all listening to music isn't a measurement experience it is related to our ability to enjoy, this is the only thing that matters. Your priorities in what you enjoy may be different than mine but I can't imagine that you make your choices by measurements alone, do you? My question is would you be prejudice against purchasing a component that measured poorly but that made you enjoy the music more?
you guys are forgetting about a basic fact. accuracy means perfection.

for example one inch is exactly one inch. in audio, all components have flaws. they are imperfect. therefore accuracy cannot exist .

it has nothing to do with listening. its the fact that all components are designed with flaws. you might be able to find components which produce a sound which provides sufficient resolution , a balanced frequency response, and other attributes that appeal to audiophiles. if a stereo system performs that way , where most recordings sound different and there is no noticeable consistent sonic signature, the condition may be "virtual accuracy", but a stereo system can never be accurate (perfect) since the components that make up the stereo sytem are not accurate.
Accuracy is a fiction. We pick and choose which distortions we can live with. Who is to say which is more accurate, an amp that is flat to 20K with .1% fifth harmonic distortion or one that down 1db at 20K with .001% fifth harmonic distortion? The distortions of audio components are so complex and myriad that in the end, there is simply no way to call one component the more accurate unless some gross distortions are involved.
Yes a little.
100% accuracy means perfection. 95% accuracy does not.
you guys are forgetting about a basic fact. accuracy means perfection.

Perfection is a notion that is entirely a fabrication of the human mind. It implies a value judgment. Without that, the notion of "perfection" has no meaning. Most definitions of perfection read something to the nature of "...without flaws". Flaws are also entirely subjective, and what is a flaw to you may not be a flaw to me. Accuracy is a state of being correct or precise. There is no value judgment involved, it is either A or B...Correct or Incorrect...black or white...zero or one.

for example one inch is exactly one inch. in audio, all components have flaws. they are imperfect. therefore accuracy cannot exist .

One inch as a unit exists only because of some collective agreement as to what that means, and it is not a value judgment to say whether or not something complies to that. I don't get the connection between flaws (a subjective value judgment) and accuracy (a simple objective observation).

it has nothing to do with listening.

Then you may as well stop right there.

its the fact that all components are designed with flaws.


The concept of determining that something is flawed is, again, entirely subjective.

Perfection is an absurd notion to me.

Jax, There probably isn't a right answer here but let me take up the case for accuracy in hi fi equipment. If you are a musician playing a live event you most definately are interested in what the room ( a hi fi equipment surrogate) is doing to your sound. You play the music as you intend it to be heard and then the room modifies it to a greater or lesser extent. Playing loud rock in a small room is challenging and playing acoustic jazz in an overly damped room is also challenging as examples. Bad rooms exist. You the listener may like the way a particular room (hi fi equipment) colors the sound and thats fine. It's your set up. Here's where the problem lies IMHO. A colored hi fi set up will ( as examples) ALWAYS add 6db to the mid bass and/or ALWAYS shelve down high frequencies making it impossible to ever hear the music as it was intended to be heard by the musicians. This might be preferable in certain poor recordings but not in good or a great ones. You will NEVER hear the music as it was played in the studio. My preference is to really "get" what the musicians are playing and to put up with the bad recordings that come along instead of covering them up with a veneer of "warmth" or "slam" or what ever. - Jim

I'd have to go back to Tubegroover's post to respond to this:

The only thing that matters is enjoyment it is the only thing that is real and if it doesn't stay that way, time for a change.

My rig is for me to enjoy music the way that moves me and involves me and keeps me glued to my seat immersed in the music I love. If that is going on for me, if my system is achieving that most of the time (as it does), I really don't care whether or not the musicians intentions, or the engineers decisions are being carried forth faithfully. It does not matter one wit to me. What matters is my enjoyment of it. If it does actually comply to their intentions, that's fine to, but I still don't care.
Unsound and Shadorne,
Could you two give us examples of the accurate components you`re referring to,much appreciated.
Thanks,
I have to admit that my question 'Does Accuracy Exist?' was indeed somewhat rhetorical.
The moment that electronics and (esp) transducers enter the chain, then accuracy must be a casualty. As some have pointed out the word should have absolute status: if not perfectly accurate, then inaccuracy is the result.

I suppose the question is partly linguistic - I don't like the language to be manhandled; but also partly an acknowledgment that a Perfect System can only ever exist for one person. I find this to be fascinating. So much disagreement in our wonderful pastime is actually without any meaning.

I'll continue to read and enjoy the comments about and reviews of more and more 'accurate' equipment till I expire - after all, we really are only debating the precise number of Angels dancing on the head of a pin. No one is disputing their existence!
Who cares about accuracy if it sounds good? On the other hand , if it is too much off it won't sound good to those who can hear. And it is not only about equipment, it is also about the instruments. I heard some that sounded very colored and distorted, much worse than my modest system. I also heard Paco de Lucia play and his guitar sounded incredible, unamplified without microphones in a really big concert hall. The room too can be totally "inaccurate".
From Wikipedia:

"In the fields of science, engineering, industry and statistics, the accuracy of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to its actual (true) value. The precision of a measurement system, also called reproducibility or repeatability, is the degree to which repeated measurements under unchanged conditions show the same results. Although the two words can be synonymous in colloquial use, they are deliberately contrasted in the context of the scientific method.

A measurement system can be accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, neither, or both. For example, if an experiment contains a systematic error, then increasing the sample size generally increases precision but does not improve accuracy. Eliminating the systematic error improves accuracy but does not change precision.

A measurement system is called valid if it is both accurate and precise. Related terms are bias (non-random or directed effects caused by a factor or factors unrelated by the independent variable) and error (random variability), respectively."

Accuracy cannot be seperated from precision, which is why I mentioned it in my first post. In any case, I would suggest that most of us start out in this hobby trying to reduce systematic errors in an effort to make our audio systems more "valid" starting from the electrical and material sources and ending at our ears. As I have become more experienced and traveled down some blind alleys in what might be considered a pure pursuit of better specifications, and therefore "accuracy", I began to realize there is more to it. Specifications are still important, but not the only thing or the holy grail. I now find myself basing decisions on listening to gear and reading more reviews by people whose taste I generally agree with, and reading less about and into techincal specifications and measures.

The first post and several subsequent have alluded to the fact that at best we can try to faithfully reproduce, at our ear, the sound intended by the original production team, regardless of whether this is actually an "accurate" reproduction of the original performance and recording space. Given that, our systems may reliably reproduce a very detailed version of this original recording that lacks some in presence, or a version rich in the original tone and timbre that may lack some speed and attack. Both of these may be equally "accurate" or "inaccurate" versions of the original, but may appeal to different people who prize those particular attributes in their listening experience.

While it is certainly not a guarantee, I generally feel you are more likely to find all of these desirable listening elements coexisting together (limited of course by what is present in the original recording) along with better measured specificiations in more expensive gear. At the more modest levels (where I tend to shop), how it sounds at home in my listening room is of more value to me than printed specifications that may speak to some greater measure of "accuracy". I do know what I like when I hear it, but it turns out I do not know it very precisely.
I want the instruments to sound the way I think they're supposed to sound, e.g., strings, woodwinds, brass, keyboards, percussion, vocals, etc. This meets my definition of accuracy.
From Wikipedia:

"In the fields of science, engineering, industry and statistics, the accuracy of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to its actual (true) value.

If this were a pro-audio forum where there was some aspect of engineering and science to what the participants were being relied upon to accomplish, this might be something to consider. But this is a forum of end-users - those who assemble equipment in order to enjoy the music. Let me say that again, as it has been said so many times in this thread: The goal here is TO ENJOY THE MUSIC. You can use whatever criteria fits your own personal take on it, and if your own interpretation of what "accuracy" means to you fits into that personal interpretation, then so be it. It does not matter and you will never find any remotely universal agreement on any of it.

05-13-11: Abucktwoeighty
100% accuracy means perfection. 95% accuracy does not.

Accuracy has nothing whatsoever to do with perfection. Accuracy is a notion that is objective, Perfection is judgment which is entirely subjective and will not be universal ("perfect" beauty for a westerner may be a polar opposite for someone from a tribe in Africa or from an Asian or Persian culture). What is a perfect movie or perfect book? Perfect music? Perfect clothing? Perfect food? Any answers to those are simply an opinion and nothing more. If we were to believe MrTennis and Abucktwoeighty, then a perfect movie is the one that is 100% accurate....perfect beauty is 100% accurate...a perfect musical performance is one that is 100% accurate. Accuracy is essentially true or false and nothing more. It has little to do with how human beings perceive and interpret the world around them and does require a universal agreement as to what defines what is true and what is false in any application of the word. In absence of that universal agreement you will never have "accuracy". You will NEVER find such a universal agreement on any notion of "perfection" or personal tastes. It is not remotely the same.
Of course accuracy exists and it is somewhat important. Without a standard of accuracy we would have subjective chaos. Without a standard of accuracy someone could assert that their 8-track, Crown amp and Bose 901s (Series IV) sounded better and was more pleasurable than anything they heard a the last CES and the statement would be unassailable.

At a practical gauging an individual component's accuracy is relatively difficult, but doing the same for a system/room is much easier. Contact a mastering studio and arrange to attend an actual mastering session. Listen to the final mix. Purchase a copy of the recording. Does the recording played back in your room on your system sound like the recording when played in the mastering room? If it sounds substantially the same, then your system/room is fairly accurate, at least to your ears.

Additionally, if accuracy wasn't at least somewhat important, then why have high costs, high end systems? If the only measure is enjoyment/involvement, then is sipping a quality bourbon while sitting next to a super sexy woman and listening to a table radio a more musically enjoyable event than listening alone in the dark to some $100k+ audiophile system? Which is more memorable?
If I were a psychiatrist, I could get in on this; but since I'm not, I had better stay out, or I will need a psychiatrist.
Contact a mastering studio and arrange to attend an actual mastering session. Listen to the final mix. Purchase a copy of the recording. Does the recording played back in your room on your system sound like the recording when played in the mastering room?

All that ridiculous jumping through hoops and you may still discover that you actually prefer to listen to that very recording on a system that makes it sound different than it did in the mastering room (ie "inaccurate"). It means nothing to the end user unless you make it mean something to you. It is neither here nor there.

Furthermore what makes one prefer their system over your hypothetical, deluxe Crown Amp/Bose/8track may have everything or nothing to do with accuracy. Ultimately it is quite simply a personal preference and nothing more, and the individual who actually thought the deluxe system may actually prefer it for whatever personal reasons.

There are no "practical" reasons for gauging components for the end user (perhaps for engineers). The best you can do is share your own experiences and preferences, and I think in some ways that can be generous, but ultimately a point of departure for others to form their own opinions - in the end it doesn't matter - its what your personal preference happens to be.

I've had a few moments from my youth with a cheap car stereo playing music, and a beautiful woman in the backseat (and front seat) of a car on a moonlit night parked alongside a country road a million miles from nowhere... I can tell you those moments are plenty memorable, and were profoundly enjoyable. I can think of many other moments of profound enjoyment of music that are plenty memorable where no expensive components were involved that I remember to this day. I also have memories that do involve expensive components. Ultimately it was the music and all kinds of other things about the moment that made the difference. It had nothing at all to do with any notion of "accuracy" or "perfection".

Anytime someone tells others you haven't lived until you've listened to music on a $x(insert lots of zeroes) system, run, don't walk, in the opposite direction. Buying into such BS is a recipe for unhappiness. There will always be something better, the grass will always be greener over yonder, that is until you drink the grape Kool Aid and empty your wallet and bank account, and agree, in spite of your own preferences, that there is some objective realization of a perfect anything.
In the best case, The gear is only going to accurately capture what is on the final recording, whether it actually conveys an accurate rendition of what the artists sounded like before all of the wobbles is an entirely different story.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Accuracy is about facts, liking what you hear is about opinions.

The problems with the 8-track, Crown, Bose example I cited earlier isn't that I like it better, but that I say it is better and without a standard of accuracy you couldn't argue that my statement was false.

Another problem I have with the radical subjectivist, if it feels good - it is good school of audio is that it denies individual achievement. As with any task some people are better than others at putting together audio systems. It's probably a bell shaped curved with a small percentage of people who truly excel at the task. But if all that matters is how good you feel, then in effect you're denying the bell shape and cramming everyone into a homogeneous blob. Without some standard of accuracy high end audio could not exist. At one point the hobby was actually call high fidelity, as in fidelity to a sound source. Have we really completely lost our way?
"If the only measure is enjoyment/involvement, then is sipping a quality bourbon while sitting next to a super sexy woman and listening to a table radio a more musically enjoyable event than listening alone in the dark to some $100k+ audiophile system? Which is more memorable?"

Which ever floats your boat the most, this is the point Onhwy61, nothing more, nothing less. Having said that I sure know what my choice would be! If a designed for "accuracy" 150K Cello reference system is more preferable over an individually carefully selected system with different but less "accurate" components, great. If it is the other way around, great. It is a choice for each individual to make. The best audio components seem designed through objective data and subjective listening. The end result and choice by the end user is totally subjective and again, is the only thing that matters. "Absolute Accuracy" (read perfection for the benefit of Mr Tennis and those of his sway) can not be quantified but can only be approached through measurements but again, the variables. What is more accurate or perfect, a Steinway or a Bosendorfer? Again preference. I am a firm believer that objective measurements are important but as Viridian notes above, unless there are major distortions going on, a musically enjoyable system is the goal not necessarily a totally objective accurate one. I also tend to believe, theoretically at least, that a "truly accurate" system if it could be quantified might be preferable to more listeners but I really don't see how such a thing could ever be quantified. This discussion is getting rather silly. It reminds me of many other threads with similar polar positions, nothing is ever resolved. It really is black and white, what do you want most, enjoyment or accuracy and if they both conjoin, good for you! Bottom line, let your logic guide you but your ears connect you to whatever your choice. I hear you Orpheus10:)
2nd request, would someone from the"accuracy" camp kindly give us an example of a suitably accurate component or system that satifies their requirements?
Take a gander at Shadorne's system.
Onhwy61,
He has A very nice system, as do many of the other posters on this fun thread. But what makes his system anymore "accurate" than the others?