The reality is that you really can't see it black and white with numbers and measurements.
A 3 db bass boost over flat with the LCD-2 or a big dynamic driver will not have the bass sensation at all as with a small balanced armature and the same amount of measured bass boost.
They way the drivers deliver sound by pushing the air can't really be compared.
However I do think we will develop a more detailed and scientifically correct way of knowing what is preferred sound and neutrality regarding headphones.
In my experience you have to separate in-ears as well, and headphones designed to listen to in noisy environments. I wouldn't be surprised with a headphone in the future that automatically adds a little more bass in order to compensate the drowning out effect. Perhaps that will unnecessary as the noise cancelling will be close to 100% who knows.
What Harman Researchers have done to increase understanding regarding this is an important step forward. I would like to see more research done, and head-fi would be a very good place to find willing test subjects and knowledgeable people.
I actually think adding the kind of bass boost the IE800 have is a smart move by Sennheiser.
1. It's a headphone for noisy environment so some type of compensating bass is preferred.
2. The bass don't bleed into the mids and is focused on the deep bass. The bass is still very detailed and tight.
3. People (many average joe's) who audition it in shops for a short while will be impressed by the extra punch, rumble and excitements it gives to the music. It's like extra chocolate sauce on an already tasty chocolate ice cream.
4. It works well with a lot of popular music.
Personally I think the bass boost of the IE800 is too much above what I consider neutral listening in a quiet environment.
On a noisy subway train it works as intended.
Edited by Sweden - 10/26/13 at 4:13pm