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.