Chromecast audio - can anyone comment on sound quality?
Oct 25, 2015 at 8:45 AM Post #31 of 537

kbuzz

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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


Same here. Wonder when an update is coming and whether it will stream hi Rez. My inky issue at this point is it really only works well with paid versions of Deezer, Pandora etc. I may have to spring for tidal as a test. I wanted it to play flac without downscaling the Rez but have figured out how to do that with iOS phone. I can confirm that p,Es definitely downs ales quality.
 
Oct 25, 2015 at 9:08 AM Post #32 of 537

betweentheears

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My 1st impression is that it is designed/intended for casual listening. I'm hoping that an app for Tidal or some other lossless streamer will show up in the near future. It is easy to use with my iPad streaming Spotify Premium. Drop outs were minimal, and the sound quality is acceptable. For $45 Can. it is cheap enough. Keeping in mind that listening was done via 3.5 input>Audioengine5+. Will report back once I hook up to main system via toslink/optical connection.
 
Oct 25, 2015 at 10:00 AM Post #33 of 537

Ggroch

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  My 1st impression is that it is designed/intended for casual listening. I'm hoping that an app for Tidal or some other lossless streamer will show up in the near future.......

While it's difficult to view a $35 item as audiophile, the hardware is capable of much better than casual listening.   I am optimistic, because of the hardware design, that things can get much better very fast with firmware updates and better hi-def audio streaming software support. 
 
I think Its better than casual already, if you consider that  "Casual" = Bluetooth for most people, CCA already beats that by a lot. 
 
Why include the Toslink output if the end goal was purely casual?   Everyone else is taking digital audio outputs off their new models (see the new FireTV and Apple TV).
 
The internal DAC supports 192kHz/24bit, and the Hi-Dynamic Range mode is apparently capable of 96kHz/24bit if they get the down sampling worked out.    
 
What has been frustrating is that the technology for streaming uncompressed audio has become very cheap.  There is 1/10th the data in high-res audio as there is in Hi-Def video, and a $30 FireTV stick can do 1080P video. 
 
To this point none of the major's has given a damn about audio enough to implement a solution, so we are left with $350 Sonos Connect boxes that functionally should cost $60.  I agree CCA is not there yet, but only a month into its release, I am very hopeful for improvements well before Christmas. 
 
On a side note, BubbleUpNp streams Tidal great....well, OK since it is down sampled.  Point is we may not have to wait for Tidal direct CCA support to get Hi-res streaming when the down sampling gets fixed. 
 
Oct 25, 2015 at 6:23 PM Post #34 of 537

tekwrx

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On a side note, BubbleUpNp streams Tidal great....well, OK since it is down sampled.  Point is we may not have to wait for Tidal direct CCA support to get Hi-res streaming when the down sampling gets fixed. 

I thought Tidal was only CD quality (44.1 , 16 bit)? So isn't the Chromecast Audio technically up-sampling by going to 48kHz? Anyway, I'd still prefer it to just pass the correct sample rate to my AVR, hope the update comes soon. It bugs me when I play hi-res 24/96 FLAC of concerts I've recorded and the display says 48kHz.... 
confused_face(1).gif

 
Oct 25, 2015 at 6:37 PM Post #35 of 537

betweentheears

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Tried the Chromecast Audio in my main system with a Toslink cable through the DAC. Sound is basically the same as when streaming through iPad.
So for a small investment I get to reclaim an iPad to use elsewhere.   
biggrin.gif
 
 
Oct 26, 2015 at 6:34 AM Post #36 of 537

mobbaddict

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Originally Posted by Ggroch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
I think Its better than casual already, if you consider that  "Casual" = Bluetooth for most people, CCA already beats that by a lot. 
 

 
I'm wondering how the CCA would compare with a high quality bluetooth receiver like the Arcam miniblink. I was about to pull the trigger on the latter for my headphone rig but the CCA makes me think twice now. Wifi / random DAC versus Bluetooth / Burr-Brown DAC...
Anyone knows the voltage output of the CCA?
 
Oct 26, 2015 at 7:40 AM Post #37 of 537

Ggroch

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I'm wondering how the CCA would compare with a high quality bluetooth receiver like the Arcam miniblink. I was about to pull the trigger on the latter for my headphone rig but the CCA makes me think twice now. Wifi / random DAC versus Bluetooth / Burr-Brown DAC...
Anyone knows the voltage output of the CCA?

I have not heard the Arcam, but its limitations are not its DAC, which is excellent, but bluetooth, which is not. 
 
Normal bluetooth has a 345 Kbs limitation in transmission speed for stereo audio, APTx ups that to 384Kbs.   Theoretically that is enough under perfect conditions to transmit Spotify High Quality Sound (called Xtreme quality on a mobile device) which has 320Kbs bitrate.
 
HOWEVER....Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis compression a good but lossly compression which bluetooth can't handle directly, so it will re-compress using SBC or APT/x codecs, both lossy, and then uncompress again....the result is significantly less than Spotify Quality under the best circumstances. Lossy compression added to lossy compression and re-compressed.
 
By contrast, there is no bandwidth limitation for Chromecast relative to audio... (uncompressed CD quality sound is 1.5 Mbs (1500Kbs) and Chromecasts 802.11AC is capable of more than 433MBs)
 
So, while I think it is great that there are high qualiy DACs for bluetooth, which will make bluetooth the best it can be,  they are not solving the real problem.   Kind of like putting a real fancy saddle on a horse, it will not make it faster than a race car. 
 
That said, I think some bluetooth devices sound pretty good, (and horses run pretty fast).  They are just not at all comparable to uncompressed/lossless compressed audio. 
 
Oct 26, 2015 at 9:03 AM Post #39 of 537

Ggroch

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  Thanks Ggroch, that's good to know. My phone doesn't even seem to be compatible with Apt-x so the Chromecast definitely looks like a safer bet. I might buy one today and will report my impressions through my Stax rig later!

 
I think for $35 you do not have much to lose.   Note that while it works for most people, including myself, on my IOS tablet,phone, it works best, with most playback options, on an android phone or tablet. 
 
Oct 26, 2015 at 10:51 AM Post #40 of 537

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I think for $35 you do not have much to lose.   Note that while it works for most people, including myself, on my IOS tablet,phone, it works best, with most playback options, on an android phone or tablet. 

Thanks, I have an Android phone!
 
I just found a brief comparison with the Arcam Miniblink in the French CNET review (take it with a pinch of salt) :
 
We were curious to know how the Chromecast Audio would fare against a high end Bluetooth dongle like the 150€ Arcam MiniBlink. The MiniBlink had a generous bass. Compared to Chromecast, it didn't reproduce vocals as well.

 
Oct 26, 2015 at 12:15 PM Post #41 of 537

betweentheears

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What is the best/easiest way to stream Tidal through iPad to CCA?
I hear there will be an app coming along shortly, looking for an alternative in the now.
 
Oct 27, 2015 at 5:30 AM Post #42 of 537

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Okay so I bought the CCA yesterday and listened to it through my Stax rig (SRM-212 > Lambda Nova Signature) during the evening. Cute little set-up. I compared it with my s:flo2 which was considered to be a bargain on head-fi a few years back. The s:flo2 had a great line out and good Wolfson chips for a cheap price.
 
Regarding sound quality, I think the CCA is fairly close to the s:flo2 with similar output power in HDR mode (I believe it has 2V RMS according to the DAC specs). Detail and soundstage were comparable, however I think the s:flo2 had more body and texture, and a more solid / deeper sound overall. So I'm slightly disappointed but I guess it's fair for the price. I might have to do more comparison with HDR off just to make sure this option actually enhances sound quality.
 
In terms of streaming performance, it was fine using Deezer but there was a 2 seconds lag everytime I skipped a track, and a few bugs as well, nothing too bad overall. Might have to try Spotify too. My only regret is that we can't stream Youtube.
 
Oct 27, 2015 at 12:53 PM Post #43 of 537

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My only regret is that we can't stream Youtube.

On my Nexus 5 Android I installed the Google Cast app. When the app is activated it casts all audio to the CCA. With Youtube the video is shown on the Android screen while the audio was "cast" through the CCA. On the material I tried the video/audio sync was off, which doesn't surprise me. But the audio itself was fine.
 
Oct 27, 2015 at 7:11 PM Post #44 of 537

Ggroch

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  In terms of streaming performance, it was fine using Deezer but there was a 2 seconds lag everytime I skipped a track, and a few bugs as well, nothing too bad overall. Might have to try Spotify too. My only regret is that we can't stream Youtube.

 
Most of us cannot get Deezer yet in the US (unless we own a Sonos, which kind of defeats the purpose of the CCA).  No lag in Spotify relative to playing direct.  My phone does occasionally lose its control..that is, If I use the phone for other things occasionally I will have to disconnect and reconnect the CCA to regain control.  But, it is far more convenient and sounds better than bluetooth.
 
Remember, at the moment it is downsampling your Deezer, and that is supposed to change within the next month or so.  Hopefully Youtube sync, Delays, and Deezer sound will get better.  
 
If you have a DAC with Toslink input try that, I only used the CCA audio out for a short test, sounded fine but I figured my headphone amps were probably better than the built in.  
 
Oct 28, 2015 at 5:07 AM Post #45 of 537

mobbaddict

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  On my Nexus 5 Android I installed the Google Cast app. When the app is activated it casts all audio to the CCA. With Youtube the video is shown on the Android screen while the audio was "cast" through the CCA. On the material I tried the video/audio sync was off, which doesn't surprise me. But the audio itself was fine.

 
I can't find this app on the Playstore, are you talking about the Chromecast app? I have no such option in the Chromecast app though.
 
   
Most of us cannot get Deezer yet in the US (unless we own a Sonos, which kind of defeats the purpose of the CCA).  No lag in Spotify relative to playing direct.  My phone does occasionally lose its control..that is, If I use the phone for other things occasionally I will have to disconnect and reconnect the CCA to regain control.  But, it is far more convenient and sounds better than bluetooth.
 
Remember, at the moment it is downsampling your Deezer, and that is supposed to change within the next month or so.  Hopefully Youtube sync, Delays, and Deezer sound will get better.  
 
If you have a DAC with Toslink input try that, I only used the CCA audio out for a short test, sounded fine but I figured my headphone amps were probably better than the built in.  

 
That's good to know regarding Deezer. I don't have any DAC with optical input but it would be a good solution indeed. I tried HDR mode off yesterday and to me it sounds pretty much the same, minus the volume gain.
 

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