Could it just be how our brain works?
In threads asking for recommendations (not just on head-fi), there are many more people looking for strong bass than say treble, are there any theories to why it is?
I'd wager that for the most part, the bass region is where the beat/rhythm is most noticeable, and thus adds more of a "fun" factor to most non-classical music - everything from jazz to pop to rap, and especially electronic music is heavily driven by a bass line that supports the entire groove.
Also, a lot of people focus on bass in speakers/headphones because it is simply the most difficult region to reproduce. Of course people appreciate the highs and mids when it comes to music, but for the most part any set of headphones can reproduce these regions sufficiently - but the very lowest frequencies are a struggle, and therefore people want to know which transducers are the most capable.
Bass reproduction presented more of a problem in the past (and still does to a certain extent). You can't easily get bass with a small speaker. If an amplifier is AC coupled, a comparatively large capacitor is required to pass bass frequencies. Treble and mids are rarely missing, so people specify that they want bass.
That's all she wrote.
So this is where doctor dre got his inspiration :)
Yes, there's a certain amount of truth in that, but...
1. People who weren't high on LSD also loved feeling their body vibrate from it. I know this because I took the LSD partway through the concert.
2. I've yet to encounter any headphones which make my body vibrate, but I can still tell when the bass is inadequate.
As for doctor dre... please - not in the same breath as the Dead.
Also bass takes your breath away (literally) through great subwoofers. Maybe people want to chase that.
IMO its related to how the low frequencies 'feel' physically. Vibrations can be felt in your body. It just has more 'presence', and forms a background layer.
Mids because they sound the most natural. They are present everywhere around us.
Treble because it seems to improve the clarity and separation of the various sounds.
I like to annoy the neighbors with it. There's nothing like playing a 20Hz foundation-rattling bass tone for 30 minutes straight to provoke a vague and untraceable sensation of dark and evil foreboding throughout an entire apartment complex.
I'm more attracted to the way vocals sound. It's the dealbreaker if it sounds off or muffled/too recessed.
It reminds me of a few times I've went to concerts where I could not hear the vocalist over the instruments or beat.
These are very good points of course, but the headphone has some very big advantages for bass. The drivers are very small, but they are very close to the ears and very importantly each is in a little chamber.
In the days when I used to listen to music from the popular spheres I had a Cabaret Voltaire 12" single called "Sluggin for Jesus". This had a bass which was a gently throbbing sound at the very bottom of our ability to hear bass. The rest of the music is made up of random-ish dialogue from television programme soundtracks. This single I really loved actually and it was one of the few really inventive things from the world of youth music.
Human hearing is generally more sensitive to upper midrange sounds, so excessive amplification/boost in these frequency bands can be too much for many listeners. Thats why car and building alarms, bomb-raid sirens and car horns contain a lot of acoustic energy in these bands. Fingernails or a fork on a chalkboard...IIRC is pure upper-midrange acoustic energy.
If you look at the sound signatures on the headroom build a graph site most of the head-fi favorites, or those noted for having an overall "pleasing" sound have some degree of upper midrange recession from ~2~6Khz, accompanied with a slight bass/treble boost. Just look at the difference between the PS500 and RS1... and the general head-fi commentary surround those two.
If you wiki human hearing and auditory nervous system theres a TON of info on the subject. But thats why we see what we see from the headphone manufacturers.