I think the new open air design (or at least a bit of it) should improve bass, and more importantly, improve soundstaging. Audiophile cans (like Grado) employ a fully open ear design for the same reasons with excellent results. The downside is sound leakage at higher volumes. I'm confident that they will sound better, but will still only nip at the heels of the big boys from Sennheiser and Grado. (Hint: the entry level Grados are only $80, and are amazing.) I'm looking forward to testing the Apple headphones out though, although I'm honestly not expecting a huge leap in quality.