Chromecast audio - can anyone comment on sound quality?
Oct 11, 2015 at 12:18 PM Post #18 of 537

kundica

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  Kundica: I would like to see your video. Are there good windows upnp control pointa? I have a hard time getting androis to see my nwtwork files.

Here's the video: https://youtu.be/UfygXym0Ypw
 
There are a few decent control points for Windows, however they don't cast to Chromecast.  The only one I know that does is Plex, but I think it might be converting the audio unless you use the mobile app.  I don't know for sure.
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 5:02 AM Post #20 of 537

hd1080ts

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I just got a Chromecast Audio, working well via 3.5mm analogue, also tried hooking up via 3.5mm optical and it's outputting 48Khz not 44,1Khz, Chromecast 1 passes 44.1Khz via HDMI, not checked Chromecast 2.
 
Google appear to be aware and say next update will fix it.
 
https://productforums.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!topic/chromecast/k6JZRM2TUco;context-place=topicsearchin/chromecast/category$3Acasting-from-a-supported-app
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 6:19 AM Post #21 of 537

gsswallow

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I got a Chromecast Audio yesterday and did some very quick tests. I'm a Tidal user and whilst I knew that Casting isn't directly supported, that using BubbleUpnp was a workaround. Didn't take too much faffing around to get BubbleUPNP server and client setup, and the Tidal integration worked pretty well.
 
However, in the Chromecast App on the device you can choose to 'Cast' all audio from the device (ie phone), meaning I can just as easily cast Tidal direct from the phone, regardless of whether its directly supported by the Tidal app or not.
 
I didn't have enough time to check for any SQ differences, but does anyone know if there is some difference in the stream quality being passed by the 2 methods (ie UPNP v Local audio casting)?
 
Seems a lot of the reviews and comments are missing this fact. It doesn't seem to matter whether any app supports the Chromecast protocol or not as the global Device Cast option gives the same outcome. Am I missing something?
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 7:24 AM Post #22 of 537

yay101

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From the engineering standpoint, there is no limits within android for bitrates. BUT almost all devices are locked to 16:44100/44000 for simplicities sake unless an app does some voodoo to bypass the mixer.
 
Upnp has no such limits and can pass anything, even documents/ data files if you really wanted.
 
Both can give you tidal rates of 16:44xxx, but any difference at that rate will be from the mixer and compression if any, if the data is wav then obviously the only variable is the mixer.
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 9:40 AM Post #23 of 537

markbrauer

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I did experiment with the native Google cast function and it worked with everything I tried - both audio apps and sound from websites. And it seemed to sound as good as UPnP streaming, but I have read that Chromecast Audio is restricted to 48 kHz so it makes sense that quality would be about the same. If Google ups the supported bitrate (the internal DAC is said to go to 192/24) there could be a noticeable difference.
 
The big thing I did notice was that casting from the phone sucked juice from the battery at an unprecedented rate - from nearly full to nearly empty in a couple hours. I'm guessing that battery consumption is the same as when using the phone as a WiFi hotspot.
 
When casting from Google Drive, BubbleUPnP casts from the phone and is a battery hog, and the phone must remain on and connected to the network or the streaming stops. When using BubbleUPnP to cast the same material from a DLNA server on my local network battery drain was negligible and, as expected, once the streaming starts the phone is out of the loop and can even be turned off.  
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 12:57 PM Post #24 of 537

markbrauer

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Can Chromecast Audio be used successfully as a headphone amp?
 
As promised in an earlier post, I finally got around to using my Chromecast Audio as a streamer/DAC/amp. I first plugged my Sennheiser HD 650s straight into the 3.5mm jack and was impressed that it worked - and quite well. I was able to achieve lifelike sound levels on most pop, jazz, and classical material with the volume "slider" at about 3/4 of max. This with a headphone that is 300 Ohms and is noted for being somewhat difficult to drive. On very high-dynamic-range recordings (like Reference Recordings Exotic Dances from the Opera) the volume at max was adequate, but there are only a few recordings like this. Dynamically compressed pop hits required only about 2/3 on the slider and could easily be set to higher-than-reasonable levels. And I have to say the overall sound quality was not all that far behind that of my regular DAC/amp, a $1400 Burson Conductor SL 9018. Often times an amp can attain reasonable volume but produces a strained and wimpy sound. Not this Chromecast, it is full-bodied and dynamic. Much better in every way compared to the output of my Nexus 5 phone or my laptop. In all, pretty impressive for a $35 product. It would be interesting to see someone compare the sound of the Chromecast to one of the USB thumb-drive-sized DAC/amps.
 
I'm not sure it was necessary but I also tried the Sennheiser HD 555 and also the HiFiMan RE400 iems. As expected, the Chromecast drove them both to higher volumes than the HD 650 and they sounded fine.
 
To answer my question - yes, many might be completely happy with the Chromecast Audio as a headphone amp. Put it near a comfy chair, away from the computer, relax and listen.
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 5:45 PM Post #25 of 537

phile1

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hi
how do you power the CCast Audio ? using a computer or a charger ? in those cases power is from SMPS thus expected to be noisy for digital streamer like the CC.
Usually the best option is to power that kind of device with a battery, a fairly basic power bank for smartphone will do the job.
Did someone try to power it using a power bank ? does it sound better than thru computer or charger ?
thks
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 5:53 PM Post #26 of 537

EH-Yeon

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hi
how do you power the CCast Audio ? using a computer or a charger ? in those cases power is from SMPS thus expected to be noisy for digital streamer like the CC.
Usually the best option is to power that kind of device with a battery, a fairly basic power bank for smartphone will do the job.
Did someone try to power it using a power bank ? does it sound better than thru computer or charger ?
thks

It would depends on the design of dc-dc converter inside the power bank. 
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 6:41 PM Post #27 of 537

markbrauer

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phile1
 
Being I use the CC nowhere near the computer it is powered by the wall wart that came with it. What surprised me about the CC Audio is that a very inexpensive combination streamer/DAC/amp, intended mostly for use with a home stereo or powered speaker, can be successfully used to drive some difficult headphones and produce very reasonable sound.
 
But your battery-power question has me intrigued. As I explained in an earlier post, I got the CCA mostly for it's streaming capabilities. Using the CCA as a streamer only, feeding a quality DAC through the optical output, results in excellent sound. In that setup, being I am bypassing the internal DAC, would battery power make a difference? I fully understand how power supply noise could affect the internal DAC, but passing the stream along optically is just sending bits to the outboard DAC which is then responsible for playing them properly. Am I correct here?
 
Oct 21, 2015 at 7:20 PM Post #28 of 537

phile1

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hi Mark,
i just ask about battery powered because on my main hifi source all digital devices are battery powered. The result is less harsh sound.
To be precise : i don't use car or truck battery in my flat, but simple power banks that deliver 5V, 5V typical of USB plugs. Many network cards and devices can be battery powered using these simple and fairly cheap batteries.
Well, not a big deal if no one tried it. I'll receive a CCA tomorrow, I'll do the test and will keep you informed if it is better with battery or not.

I plan to use it like you Mark : basic streamer using its optical output.
I don't have DAC. The CCA will feed a full digital amplifier (QLS-HiFi QA100, 333USD on AliExpress). A really good amplifier that replaced a 5kUSD setup of DAC/digital interface/analogical amplifier 3months ago. You should have a try ! Sound is precise detailed timbres are very accurate.

As I'll use the CCA as a digital streamer, I hope Google will upgrade the firmware ASAP to stop the resampling in 48kHz... stupid feature.
Rgds
 
Oct 23, 2015 at 11:37 AM Post #29 of 537

Ggroch

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hi Mark,
i just ask about battery powered because on my main hifi source all digital devices are battery powered. The result is less harsh sound.......
As I'll use the CCA as a digital streamer, I hope Google will upgrade the firmware ASAP to stop the resampling in 48kHz... stupid feature.
Rgds

 
I have been using the chromecast audio both on a 5V power pack battery and off its charger.  Both work great, I have not heard noise either way.  
 
The  battery option is quite convenient if you have a portable speaker with a built in USB power tap and an AUX input.   Some JBLs have this, as does my TDK A360.  This makes a totally portable solution that is far better sounding than blue-tooth.
 
I am surprised that there has not been more discussion of this little device so far on Head-fi.  They have totally replaced my old Squeezeboxs, they sound great now with an external dac, and will probably sound even better with the firmware update that is promised to  allow direct play rather than resampling to 48khz.     I love these things. 
 
Oct 23, 2015 at 11:46 AM Post #30 of 537
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Got mine today but I'm npt able to set it up due to some network problems at home. Hopefully I'll be able to make it work this weekend :)

 

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