One of the James Dyson Award entrants, Stefan Zwegers, thinks it's the latter, which is why his Sensible Music invention turns bass into vibrations when listening to music through headphones.
This is achieved by placing two vibrating motors in the headphones' cord, located around the user's chest. Like listening to live music at a concert and feeling the bass course through your body, these Sensible Music headphones bring the user closer to the music—without having to ruin their hearing by turning the volume up.
I'm not sure how well the Dutch student's idea would work in practise, but as my hearing's been shot from too many gigs and my rebellious teen years of playing Faith No More at 11, I'd be willing to give it a go. [James Dyson Award]