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Please help me with noticing subtle differences in sound quality (setup details in first post)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have an extremely noobish question.  Is there an easy way to detect sound quality improvements in a setup?  I have the Shure SRH840.  When comparing it to awful headphones, there is an obvious difference to me.  When using the SRH840 in my cheap MP3 player vs. in my laptop, again, there is a somewhat obvious difference to me in sound quality.  However, when I try to compare the sound quality coming through my Hifimediy Sabre DAC and Fiio E11 amp vs. plugging the SRH840 directly into my laptop's headphone jack (with the original sound card), I am not sure that I can discern any difference in sound quality.

 

My question: is there anything specific that I should listen for within songs that would help me notice the improvement that surely exists (rather than listening to the songs overall)?  Alternatively, are there any songs that would be good to help me notice a difference?   I realize that some people have better ears for this sort of thing than others.  Please be specific with musical terms if you can.  I played the piano and alto saxophone for many years, so I should have an idea of what you are talking about.  I mostly like classic rock, classic metal, hair metal, power ballads, and some more modern rock.  However, I am open to any suggestions.  I am using a Dell Latitude E6500 laptop (Windows XP 32 bit) currently with Foobar2000 with the ASIO4ALL plugin.  Most of my music is either WAV lossless from CDs or 320 kbps MP3s.  

 

I know the SRH840 is easy to drive.  Is that why the difference is not obvious to me?  I read many posts on this site claiming that a DAC and amp should make the sound better than with a laptop sound card, though.  Any suggestions?  I hope what I am asking makes sense.

post #2 of 7

Ben,

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbenrfan99 View Post
I am using a Dell Latitude E6500 laptop (Windows XP 32 bit) currently with Foobar2000 with the ASIO4ALL plugin.  Most of my music is either WAV lossless from CDs or 320 kbps MP3s.  

 

I know the SRH840 is easy to drive.  Is that why the difference is not obvious to me?  I read many posts on this site claiming that a DAC and amp should make the sound better than with a laptop sound card, though.  Any suggestions?  I hope what I am asking makes sense.

The ASIO plugin is only used in conjunction with audio interfaces and not discrete 'hi-fi' DAC units. For Windows software, WASAPI is used. You can download the WASAPI plugin from the Foobar2000 website. Once you have done so, configure your sound output in the setting of Foobar2000 to WASAPI (event).

 

Cheers.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Destroysall View Post
 

Ben,

The ASIO plugin is only used in conjunction with audio interfaces and not discrete 'hi-fi' DAC units. For Windows software, WASAPI is used. You can download the WASAPI plugin from the Foobar2000 website. Once you have done so, configure your sound output in the setting of Foobar2000 to WASAPI (event).

 

Cheers.

I tried downloading the WASAPI plugin before, but at least the one I tried on the Foobar2000 website was not compatible with Windows XP.  Is there another version that can be used with XP?

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

I found that the WASAPI plugin was never compatible with Windows XP (only Vista and newer).  What should I download instead?

post #5 of 7

Ben,

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbenrfan99 View Post
 

I found that the WASAPI plugin was never compatible with Windows XP (only Vista and newer).  What should I download instead?


Forgive me for misreading. For Windows XP, ASIO is actually needed. While I don't have any personal experience with Windows XP and how to make it functional for external DAC units, Cambridge Audio has a guide that might assist you → http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/media/audiophileguidetobitperfectusbaudio_english-1353493608.pdf

 

It could also be that you may need to upgrade your headphone to discern a difference..

post #6 of 7
post #7 of 7

Kernel Streaming is the foobar component used to bypass the windows mixer in XP and earlier.

 

It's still available but not much used or recently updated.

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