Chromecast audio - can anyone comment on sound quality?
Dec 12, 2018 at 1:28 PM Post #391 of 538

maxh22

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A quick upgrade is to add a staggered series of capacitors to the USB line between the stock power supply and the chromecast: say, 470 mF, 47 mF, 4.7 mF and a smaller good poly cap. Works great, and you can use the same cable on other power supplies.

By the way, it is important to note that the USB cable I got with the last

chromecast audio I bought had ONLY the two power supply wires (and no signal wires). Obviosly you don't want to use that cable for other data operations.

How does this modification improve the sound? What differences are you hearing?

I'm using a better-shielded cable than the stock one but the stock one isn't half bad either.
 
Dec 12, 2018 at 2:04 PM Post #392 of 538

Ggroch

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But with the stock ps it sounds a little edgy in the high end which is just RF noise..

Hmmm. Are you a science guy or an "I believe my ears" guy or both?

Are you using the built in Chromecast DAC (Analog 3.5mm out) or Toslink with an External DAC?
Have you seen any measurements that show RF Noise leaking into the signal?
Sorry for all of the questions...but there are a lot of variables here.

There have been some recent CCA measurements by Amir at Audio Science Review of both the Analog Outputs. and the Digital Toslink Output.
Recent is good because there have been a lot of firmware improvements since the CCA's release...including implementing bit-perfect transmission (depending on source/software).

Interesting in the Analog Measurements:

.0027% THD + Noise
91.2 dB S/N ratio.
Jitter and Noise 110dB down. So in this test...any RF noise or other power related issues are far below audibility.

These are very very good numbers. Not the equal of the best Dacs...but equal or better than some very expensive ones like the Schiit Yggdrasil.
Note he did not use the stock USB power adapter (he lost it) but used another inexpensive switching power adapter. I have never noticed any 60Hz noise or other distortion on my CCAs using the stock power adapter. I did get some noise when I tried some random other cheap USB P/S.

Interesting in the Digital Measurements:

In the 1st Test of the CCA Toslink outputs the results were TERRIBLE. It turns out the problem was not the CCA at all....but Google's Implementation of Casting Audio from within the Chrome Browser.
When he switch his source to a signal cast by Roon the results were once again....nearly perfect. Other well designed casting software like Hi-Fi Cast, BubbleUPnP, Media Monkey that use the Chromecast API get similar great results. So the problem is the Chrome Browser Casting function. I wish he would test Spotify Connect Streaming...because I use that most of the time. My guess would be it is as good as spotify direct...which is plenty for me but definitely not Hi-Res.

Another interesting note on the CCA Toslink out is that it has some jitter which really well designed DACS (like the Topping D50) can totally handle. Other less well designed DACS may show some small jitter effects. Rather than purchase a bunch of anti-jitter add ons...it makes sense to choose a DAC with good jitter reduction for use with CCA's toslink. They do not have to be expensive.
 
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Dec 12, 2018 at 8:52 PM Post #393 of 538

Ggroch

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There appears to be two new Amazon Streaming Devices designed with audiophiles in mind. Unlike the just released Echo Input, the Echo Link ($200) and Echo Link Amp ($300) have Digital Coaxial/Toslink In & Out, a headphone jack, Preamp and Subwoofer outputs, and a volume knob. In addition to Prime Music they support Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, and soon Apple Music. No Google Music of course.

Compared to the equivalent Sonos devices they are a bargain...but no compared to CCA. What do you guys think?
 
Dec 12, 2018 at 9:04 PM Post #394 of 538

maxh22

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Hmmm. Are you a science guy or an "I believe my ears" guy or both?

Are you using the built in Chromecast DAC (Analog 3.5mm out) or Toslink with an External DAC?
Have you seen any measurements that show RF Noise leaking into the signal?
Sorry for all of the questions...but there are a lot of variables here.

There have been some recent CCA measurements by Amir at Audio Science Review of both the Analog Outputs. and the Digital Toslink Output.
Recent is good because there have been a lot of firmware improvements since the CCA's release...including implementing bit-perfect transmission (depending on source/software).

Interesting in the Analog Measurements:

.0027% THD + Noise
91.2 dB S/N ratio.
Jitter and Noise 110dB down. So in this test...any RF noise or other power related issues are far below audibility.

These are very very good numbers. Not the equal of the best Dacs...but equal or better than some very expensive ones like the Schiit Yggdrasil.
Note he did not use the stock USB power adapter (he lost it) but used another inexpensive switching power adapter. I have never noticed any 60Hz noise or other distortion on my CCAs using the stock power adapter. I did get some noise when I tried some random other cheap USB P/S.

Interesting in the Digital Measurements:

In the 1st Test of the CCA Toslink outputs the results were TERRIBLE. It turns out the problem was not the CCA at all....but Google's Implementation of Casting Audio from within the Chrome Browser.
When he switch his source to a signal cast by Roon the results were once again....nearly perfect. Other well designed casting software like Hi-Fi Cast, BubbleUPnP, Media Monkey that use the Chromecast API get similar great results. So the problem is the Chrome Browser Casting function. I wish he would test Spotify Connect Streaming...because I use that most of the time. My guess would be it is as good as spotify direct...which is plenty for me but definitely not Hi-Res.

Another interesting note on the CCA Toslink out is that it has some jitter which really well designed DACS (like the Topping D50) can totally handle. Other less well designed DACS may show some small jitter effects. Rather than purchase a bunch of anti-jitter add ons...it makes sense to choose a DAC with good jitter reduction for use with CCA's toslink. They do not have to be expensive.

Thanks for the info on the CCA, it was a good refresher; I have read Amirs review of the CCA previously as it was of interest to me. I'm well aware of its early limitations as well but for the price of entry, it really offers a lot.

Btw, my impressions are purely subjective so take them with a grain of salt if you wish. But IMHO the battery and ferrites are the final icing on the cake without doing any other mods to the chromecast itself. The sound is smoother, lusher, and has better flow. It's still not as good as my Chord Mojo for example, but with the right setup, it can be really relaxing and enjoyable.
 
Dec 12, 2018 at 9:20 PM Post #395 of 538

gvl2016

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There appears to be two new Amazon Streaming Devices designed with audiophiles in mind. Unlike the just released Echo Input, the Echo Link ($200) and Echo Link Amp ($300) have Digital Coaxial/Toslink In & Out, a headphone jack, Preamp and Subwoofer outputs, and a volume knob. In addition to Prime Music they support Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, and soon Apple Music. No Google Music of course.

Compared to the equivalent Sonos devices they are a bargain...but no compared to CCA. What do you guys think?

Sadly no DLNA support or so it seems.
 
Dec 13, 2018 at 2:21 AM Post #396 of 538

Sound Eq

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There appears to be two new Amazon Streaming Devices designed with audiophiles in mind. Unlike the just released Echo Input, the Echo Link ($200) and Echo Link Amp ($300) have Digital Coaxial/Toslink In & Out, a headphone jack, Preamp and Subwoofer outputs, and a volume knob. In addition to Prime Music they support Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, and soon Apple Music. No Google Music of course.

Compared to the equivalent Sonos devices they are a bargain...but no compared to CCA. What do you guys think?

that looks interesting, just making sure can i use my own dac with it
 
Dec 13, 2018 at 2:48 AM Post #397 of 538

ginetto61

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.... There have been some recent CCA measurements by Amir at Audio Science Review of both the Analog Outputs. and the Digital Toslink Output.
.... in this test...any RF noise or other power related issues are far below audibility...
Hi and thank you very much for the very interesting information.
Still i wonder if more in general RF noise can have some kind of impact on dac clock stability/precision even if is below or beyond audibility ... i am just asking.
I understand the very good dac are very very stable. But i am afraid are also very very expensive ? any specific recommendation ?
I wonder if the Gustard x20u that i have packed away now (i am always on the move) is one of those. That would be fantastic.
Thanks a lot
 
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Dec 13, 2018 at 5:51 AM Post #398 of 538

Ggroch

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......I understand the very good dac are very very stable. But i am afraid are also very very expensive ? any specific recommendation ?

I wonder if the Gustard x20u that i have packed away now (i am always on the move) is one of those......

Wow....if you are having trouble finding storage space for your Gustard I will be happy to store it for you :wink:

I do not think that price of a DAC is always directly related to Jitter Rejection/Stability. My most expensive DAC is a Yulong D200 (using I think an ESS 9016 chipset). it actually skips/blanks about once every 3 minutes in the middle of songs when using the CCA Toslink.

Most of my DACs seem to work fine...but the previously mentioned Topping D50 and the new cheaper Topping DX3Pro have great Jitter specs as tested by Amir at ASR. I have not seen a test of the x20u...but some technical DAC reviews should have a jitter measurement. Nearly all ASR DAC reviews include jitter measurement.
 
Dec 13, 2018 at 6:33 AM Post #399 of 538

ginetto61

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Wow....if you are having trouble finding storage space for your Gustard I will be happy to store it for you :wink:
Hi ! thank you very much for the kind offer of help :) i am looking for a place in Torino Italy. Now all my personal audio toys are stored in another city.
The Gustard should be the best dac i have. On the basis of what i read here. Actually i bought it after reading some very positive reviews.

I do not think that price of a DAC is always directly related to Jitter Rejection/Stability. My most expensive DAC is a Yulong D200 (using I think an ESS 9016 chipset). it actually skips/blanks about once every 3 minutes in the middle of songs when using the CCA Toslink.
Most of my DACs seem to work fine...but the previously mentioned Topping D50 and the new cheaper Topping DX3Pro have great Jitter specs as tested by Amir at ASR. I have not seen a test of the x20u...but some technical DAC reviews should have a jitter measurement.
Nearly all ASR DAC reviews include jitter measurement.

yes i was referring to jitter rejection. For me it is a very welcome thing. I could use almost any usb to spdif converter i have. I have already a Gustard U12 and a Yellowtec PUC2 to try out.
Hopefully one of the two will output a decent digital signal. However now that i think better i could always buy a better usb to spdif interface with less jitter ?
Thanks again.
 
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Dec 14, 2018 at 10:56 AM Post #400 of 538

audiobomber

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Interesting in the Analog Measurements:
.0027% THD + Noise
91.2 dB S/N ratio.
Jitter and Noise 110dB down. So in this test...any RF noise or other power related issues are far below audibility.
These are very very good numbers. Not the equal of the best Dacs...but equal or better than some very expensive ones like the Schiit Yggdrasil.

Are you saying that these measurements determine the sound quality of a DAC? Do you really believe a CCA can compare in SQ with a Yiggy? I have four DAC's, five counting the one in the CCA. The CCA DAC is easily the worst of these. It sounds fine in my lower resolution secondary system. In my main system, even fed with a high quality LPS, it is obviously compromised; grainy, lacking detail, collapsed soundstage.

Interesting in the Digital Measurements:
In the 1st Test of the CCA Toslink outputs the results were TERRIBLE. It turns out the problem was not the CCA at all....but Google's Implementation of Casting Audio from within the Chrome Browser. When he switch his source to a signal cast by Roon the results were once again....nearly perfect. Other well designed casting software like Hi-Fi Cast, BubbleUPnP, Media Monkey that use the Chromecast API get similar great results. So the problem is the Chrome Browser Casting function.

Amir did not find the problem with CCA digital streaming because he only tested at 48kHz. Mine works fine at 48 kHz, but very spotty with hi-rez (Minimstreamer DLNA). Archimago measured excessive jitter with 24/96 files. http://archimago.blogspot.com/2016/02/measurements-google-chromecast-audio.html This was a well deserved positive review of CCA, but only in terms of value, not performance.

Another interesting note on the CCA Toslink out is that it has some jitter which really well designed DACS (like the Topping D50) can totally handle. Other less well designed DACS may show some small jitter effects. Rather than purchase a bunch of anti-jitter add ons...it makes sense to choose a DAC with good jitter reduction for use with CCA's toslink. They do not have to be expensive.
How much jitter a DAC will accept is not related sound quality, it is a design decision. My Audiolab 8200 CD is factory set to work with low jitter sources. There is a firmware setting to allow pairing with a high jitter source, but it affects SQ negatively. Again, this streaming issue is only on high resolution material, so not tested by Amir and not relevant to anyone streaming CD quality or Spotify.
 
Jan 11, 2019 at 2:29 PM Post #402 of 538

Ggroch

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Thank you for the heads-up rkw! I just ordered from Google's direct listing on their eBay store where shipping is free.

I posted your news on the head-fi deals thread.

I feel a little like I did when Logitech discontinued Squeezebox. That was worse because there were very few streaming options then. But, I still think CCA fills an important niche. Very few Google smart speakers have audio out jacks, and none that I know of have toslink.

Plus, since you can designate a CCA as the default music playback device for Google Smart speakers...they work very well together.
 
Jan 13, 2019 at 4:52 AM Post #404 of 538

rkw

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Google had already dropped the price to $15 (from $35) a couple of months ago. With the announcement that it would be discontinued, all of the $15 deals suddenly sold out within a day. Judging from comments posted on the web, most of the sales went to people who already own one, and some ordered 3 or 4 at a time. It's a testament to what a great little device and incredible value it is, that owners felt compelled to stock up on more of them before they're gone.
 
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Jan 13, 2019 at 11:54 AM Post #405 of 538

Slater

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Google had already dropped the price to $15 (from $35) a couple of months ago. With the announcement that it would be discontinued, all of the $15 deals suddenly sold out within a day. Judging from comments posted on the web, most of the sales went to people who already own one, and some ordered 3 or 4 at a time. It's a testament to what a great little device and incredible value it is, that owners felt compelled to stock up on more of them before they're gone.

I didn’t even own one, and right after the announcement I went to the eBay listing and it was 98% sold so I ordered 2 just to play with and try out.

I’m sure a lot of those buyers were 3rd party resellers that will be turning around and reselling them on eBay at $25 to make a quick buck. There are a lot of those nowadays, doing it with everything from Monopoly Millennial Edition to Paw Patrol toys.
 

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