Originally Posted by wje I think we are all overlooking one of the biggest variables here - our own hearing limitations.
We all are not going to really have the same interpretation of sound for the same pair of headphones. Different limitations and affects of different frequencies makes us all unique.
100% with you on this one - My personal 'compensation curve' is probably different than yours. Neither one of us is likely to be a perfect match for ISO standards.
As for all the EQ-Talk, it is a bit of a dead horse. What some people should consider is that EQ is, like other audio processes, a tool. No matter how hard they try, no audio speaker designers can design for ALL rooms, ALL ears, ALL source material, etc. There are plenty of variables in play, and without question the end-user is big variable #1. Without writing a wall again, think of your car. Tons of ambient noise, crap speaker placement, and now tons of sources (USB, 3.5 mm jacks, CD, DVD, Radio, HD Radio, Satellite and so on). EQ is critical in that environment, and so is time alignment. All OEMs EQ and increasingly design systems with a lot of electronic nannies to compensate for various factors (including noise cancellation). All tools. All useful - even though some of them annoy me.
Think of home theatre - "Auto-EQ" and Time-Alignment are pretty much standard these days, as manufacturers have wisely decided that consumers probably don't spend one iota of time bothering to set up a physically 'perfect' speaker arrangement, just putting stuff where there is space or where they want instead. It works, and you usually get a better sound.
I'll always take an abundance of tools to praying that some engineer across the ocean 'gets it right' the first time. Even in the headphone space, I like screwing around, simple as that. It is not my fault the world isn't perfect and my ears are weird. Purism is just an excuse of the lazy, IMHO. I'm too poor to get everything I want, so I'd better learn how to use the tools I have to get the best results I can.