I'm having an issue that I believe has been isolated to Acrobat X related to Color Management, but was referred to this Photoshop forum because more experts in color management tend to read here. My thread in the Acrobat forum with several updates on tests is here: http://forums.adobe.com/message/4646650#4646650
The short version is that any RGB image I create in any app (including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, a non-Adobe app with Word, and Acrobat's own PDF from Screen Capture feature) displays in both Acrobat X and Adobe Reader with dull colors, very similar (if not identical) to how an RGB file with full intensity colors (i.e. R255 or G255) looks when converted to CMYK.
I've tried numerous settings in the Color Management system, and have Synchronized my Color Settings via Bridge across all Adobe CS6 apps. I've tried synchronizing to both the default North American General Purpose 2, and the (sometimes suggested) Monitor Color, using a calibrated profile for my Dell display from OS X's built-in tool. Have also tried various settings of Preserving Embedded Profiles, ignoring them, Assigning a new Color Profile to a document, turning off color management completely, etc. No change in result.
I have a multi-monitor setup (3 external Dell displays connected to a Macbook Pro, 2 of them via USB video devices), but I've also tried making each display (including the laptop's built-in display) my Primary monitor and can see the color shift on each one, so it doesn't appear to be a calibration issue.
This issue is on my Mac at the office. I have a similar setup at home (albeit a MacPro 1,1 vs. a laptop) but with the same Dell monitors and CS6 software installation, and I can take the same document (whether it's InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop), make a PDF of it, and it displays with 100% accurate colors when viewed in Acrobat X.
In addition to the tests mentioned in my original thread, I've also tried uninstalling and reinstalling both Acrobat X and Adobe Reader.
I believe the issue is related to Acrobat, as I can repeat the issue with no other apps than Acrobat in the workflow: if I display a full-intensity RGB image on screen, then use Acrobat X to create a PDF from Screen Capture, the resulting PDF immediately shifts to the dull colors.
Have also thoroughly checked through Acrobat's preferences, as it seems almost as if there's a setting somewhere along the lines of "View all PDFs in CMYK color gamut", but no such setting exists. I did a complete uninstall of Acrobat X as well, which I imagine would also dump its Preferences, so it would be a clean reinstall.
Another interesting note: Apple's Preview app seems to display the PDF with accurate RGB colors, so I know the PDF actually has the correct color definitions intact. But the same PDF opened in Acrobat X or Reader side-by-side displays the dull colors.
i wasn't able to follow your lengthy post, and the color management chain is too complicated (for me) to address here other to say Acrobat reads tagged elements and converts their colors to Monitor RGB (so you must have stripped the profiles in the PDF, and the Acrobat CMS is applying or passing through the wrong profile)
further, if you don't want to rely on profiles, your safest bet (for screen viewing) is to CONVERT everything to sRGB (but i would still include the profile in case someone wants to display or print the document 'accurately'
Here is a look at a several critical color setting in Export to Acrobat that control: Downsampling, Compression, Color Conversions, Destination, and Tagging (click on image for blowup):
these panels were grabbed from an InDesign Export PDF process, but Photoshop should have similar options somewhere