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The audio update


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    Indeed! The audio system is functional, but really lacking compared to what it could be.

    A missing aspect from your post is that Headphones are not stereo. Speakers used to be the way of getting sound out of computers, but that has moved over to favorite headphones, especially for gaming, just not in the studio space as much, ergo why it can get overlooked.
    From my limited understanding of audio, minecraft is missing some binaural processing. There is a bit bleedover from one channel to another, but it's nothing like anything you can get with games such as Portal 2 who has a setting for headphones vs speaker. I've found that the Dynamic Surroundings mod does a good job at adding some of features necessary for making a good auditory experience in minecraft, but still feel it to be silly that a mod needs to "fix" this.

    It's not much you notice when using speakers, as the audio from either speaker goes into both your ears, but you don't have that with headphones. It's a really important part to simulate properly for audio sensitive people that use headphones.