I can compare the sound I'm hearing with the Ref.1 to my memory of the SE846 (unfortunately don't have anymore). From what I recall of the SE846, it was way down on soundstage size, with a much more constrained feeling (read 'intimate'). And yes, the bass was not nearly as extended, textured, and communicative as that of the Ref.1. It was more one note, and generic, although did extend quite deep for a BA setup. Treble was another issue... it was only remotely well extended if one uses the white treble filter. Midrange was more up front and in your face, with the Ref.1 bordering on a slight 'U' signature there, but the tone of the Ref.1 seems much better (vocals especially).
I think if I had the SE846 on hand, the Ref.1 would handily render it sub par by comparison.
Well of course the 846 is sub par and also sub in price. Comparing a $900 to a $1600 says a lot about the $900 product. I believe both are good earphones and both are directed at different users. I would compare a BA Driver with another BA Driver and compare a Hybrid to another Hybrid or Dynamic driver.