Chromecast audio - can anyone comment on sound quality?
Jun 9, 2020 at 1:42 AM Post #511 of 558

rkw

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1.44.185164 is the preview firmware, you can try to subscribe here
https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/7124014?hl=en
This was discussed earlier in the thread (beginning post #467). Several of us joined the preview program but none of us ever received the update. On the Google support forums also nobody was receiving the update. I searched the web and could not find a single customer who reported receiving the preview firmware. There are several Google support threads on this topic and they have all been closed to new posts, which may mean that Google has ended support for Chromecast Audio.
 
Jun 9, 2020 at 9:02 AM Post #512 of 558

markbrauer

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It could be your specific DAC chip.

I first started experiencing dropouts on Toslink back in June of 2016. They were servere, happening on all formats and bitrates from 192 Kbps MP3s to 24/96 FLAC and WAV. I followed complaints on the Google support forum and other forums and started to notice a pattern. Most of the issues were related to DACs using ESS Sabre chips. There were a few users reporting dropouts with other DAC chips, but not too many. By November 2016 there was no resolution to the problem and the various threads seemed dead so I tried to wake things up by posting this.
https://support.google.com/chromecast/forum/AAAAt7PFQG4NxI-KjqRVKA/?hl=en&gpf=#!topic/chromecast/NxI-KjqRVKA;context-place=forum/chromecast
I'm not sure my complaint had any effect but somewhere along the way the dropout issue was "fixed" for MP3 and 16/44 playback. It took until sometime in 2019 for the fix to hi-res streaming to show up.

So it seems entirely possible that the dropouts some are experiencing has to do with their particular DAC?

Now, I only know enough about this stuff to be considered dangerous, but I believe there is an "optical interface", a device that sits in front of the DAC chip that converts the Toslink light pulses to a electronic S/PDIF signal which goes to the DAC chip. If I am correct about this it seems the dropouts could be related to that conversion device.

Here are links to a couple of the threads from back in 2016 where other DAC chips are mentioned
https://support.google.com/chromeca...ontext-place=topicsearchin/chromecast/ESS9018

https://support.google.com/chromeca...st/DVSee-AfPDY;context-place=forum/chromecast
 
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Jun 9, 2020 at 11:18 AM Post #513 of 558

audiobomber

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Chromecast Audio is known to have elevated jitter with a high resolution stream. I had dropouts streaming hi-rez files from a NAS to Chromecast Audio, via Tosink to an iFi nano iOne. The iOne uses a Burr-Brown DAC chip, not Sabre .

My main DAC is an Audiolab with Sabre 9018 Pro chips. The Audiolab DAC has a feature that allows the user to select how much input jitter the DAC will accept: Auto, Low, Medium or High. According to the Audiolab manual, the level of jitter a DAC will tolerate is a design decision, but settings that accept higher jitter sources negatively impact sound quality. Changing the digital input tolerance from default "Auto" to "Medium" eliminated the dropouts.

But all this is history for me. The Audiolab is back to its default jitter setting, and I have no more ticks, dropouts or lockups with either DAC, nor with a Modi 3. It is my firm opinion that Google resolved the issue, and did not bother to update the firmware version.

For anyone still experiencing casting problems, I would be looking at network strength. Maybe you need to move Chromecast or your router for better reception, or buy a more powerful router or a network extender.
 
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Jun 9, 2020 at 11:29 AM Post #514 of 558

markbrauer

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"Maybe you need to move Chromecast or your router for better reception."

Indeed, just the other day I took my battery-powered Chromecast out on my deck, plugged in my headphones, and immediately experienced constant dropouts. The router is less than 20 feet away. Fortunately I only had to move the Chromecast about 10 inches to achieve perfect reception.
 
Jun 21, 2020 at 12:59 PM Post #516 of 558

visanj

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Visanj,
I'm thinking you must have meant that you enabled High Dynamic Range, to get the best sound quality.

As I have said in earlier posts, I am a big proponent of using the Chromecast Audio as an all-in-one streamer/DAC/headphone amp - with headphones plugged directly into its 3.5mm output. Used that way, the sound quality is very near as good as my $1500 desktop setup, which includes a standalone streamer and a combo DAC/amp. The only place it falls down a notch is on very loud orchestral music and aggressively-played solo piano, where there could be some distortion and smearing of the sound. Typical recordings of jazz, pop, acoustic, chamber music, etc are all reproduced with no issues.

I have usually powered my CCA with a battery powerbank, feeling that it made for a slightly cleaner sound. Being the CCA came with a 1 amp "wall wart", I always used a 1 amp powerbank. Recently I had occasion to use a powerbank rated to provide 2.4 amps and I was somewhat shocked to find out the loud-passage distortion was eliminated. Evidently the CCA can draw more than 1 amp when called upon to deal with difficult passages. I listened to nothing else for a full week, with a wide variety of music, and never heard a problem. When I went back to my desktop system I did not notice any great improvement. The CCA really shines when more amperage is available.

Now, I realize that synergy between amp and headphone can have a big effect on SQ, but I find the CCA does work well with the half-dozen headphones I have used with it, varying from 16 to 300 Ohms. So YMMV. On the other hand, I find the audio output of the CCA exhibits no synergy with any of the amps I have used it with. Sound quality, while listenable, is unremarkable. I suspect it has to do with an impedance mismatch or somesuch. As many others have pointed out, the SQ when using the optical output with an external DAC is great.

I honestly feel that, SQ-wise, the CCA could suffice as my only "system". What it lacks is the ability to do gapless playback. That's a dealbreaker for me.

Happy listening

No. HDR is disabled. I'm scared to enable it as I'm using IEMs and it says clearly that HDR is for good Amplifiers/AV Receivers. so I don't know how it sounds if I enable it. I just like it the way how it is.

Regarding sound quality, after more listening, the words coming to my mind is 'Open', 'Strong', 'Hard', 'Raw', 'Dry but not analytical'. I'm very happy with the sound quality. Now since corona times I don't have office commute. But when I have office commute I will seriously miss chromecast audio. My so called good bluetooth headphones Sony WH1000XM3, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are lying in dust
 
Aug 14, 2020 at 3:20 AM Post #517 of 558

cmrheadphones

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I am experimenting with a CCA as headphone amp. Apart from nearly being deafened and then learning to control the volume it works very well with my ATH-M50x's. I use them with the 3.5mm output and a new 1000mah powerbank. I am still experimenting and wondering if I dac would be needed. Would it be possible to use it with the apple 3.5mm to usb c dongle and then connect that to my phone - or have I totally lost the plot!?
 
Aug 14, 2020 at 5:04 AM Post #518 of 558

rkw

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Would it be possible to use it with the apple 3.5mm to usb c dongle and then connect that to my phone - or have I totally lost the plot!?
I don't understand what you want to accomplish.

If you want to use the CCA with your iPhone while you are mobile, you can turn on the wifi hotspot on your phone, and the CCA can connect to it. See the discussion starting post #316. Personally, I would use instead a Bluetooth receiver as discussed in this thread.
 
Aug 23, 2020 at 9:05 PM Post #519 of 558

exander

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I moved to Deezer Hifi from Qobuz due to catalogue issues. As I am moving away from bluesound (separate discussion to be had here), I have been relying on CCA as my streamer connected over Toslink to my DAC (Topping D50s). After numerous testing against a mac mini streaming Qobuz with Audirvana, and a RPI streaming Qobuz with Volumio - both over USB, I could not find any major difference in SQ on my setup. What made it for me with the CCA was switching from the default delivered power supply (USB charger + cable) to a powerbank. This gave the CCA the bit of extra clean sound I was looking for.

Obviously I will be revisiting this, but for now, I am concentrated on improving SQ on my core setup (currently looking at upgrading speakers).

What power bank are you using?
 
Aug 24, 2020 at 7:48 AM Post #520 of 558

stephenlee2801

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Hi all - this thread has inspired me to explore using a chromecast audio as at-home / at-office wireless setup. Have people noticed a difference in sound quality when using different power outputs in their powerbanks? Wondering if I could get away with an older powerbank with a lower output for this setup.
 
Aug 24, 2020 at 8:33 AM Post #521 of 558

audiobomber

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Hi all - this thread has inspired me to explore using a chromecast audio as at-home / at-office wireless setup. Have people noticed a difference in sound quality when using different power outputs in their powerbanks? Wondering if I could get away with an older powerbank with a lower output for this setup.
As long as the output voltage is 5V and current is rated for at least 1A, it will work fine.
 
Sep 13, 2020 at 9:31 AM Post #522 of 558

audiobomber

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For anyone still experiencing casting problems, I would be looking at network strength. Maybe you need to move Chromecast or your router for better reception, or buy a more powerful router or a network extender.
A further observation. Casting from the Chromecast Audio browser "Cast" tab results in severe dropouts. Casting from the various apps I use works fine, no dropouts.

On another topic, can anyone tell me what bitrate CCA plays when casting Amazon HD or Ultra HD?
 
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Nov 13, 2020 at 8:09 AM Post #523 of 558

MattAu

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Hello,

Newbie here, I have read through the last 5-6 pages and the first couple pages here. I picked up a CCA and am happy using it with Spotify. I use the analogue out and use a adapter cable to RCA into my integrated amp. Everything sounds fine.

I have started ripping my CD collections into FLAC and would like to (ideally) play those with the CCA as well. I have tried VLC Player casting and although I heard the blip (to indicate that my desktop computer is connected to the CCA) I don't hear anything and the time bar isn't moving (i.e. file not playing). The file plays fine locally. I have also tried playing the file on my Chrome browser and it plays fine. When I tried to cast it to my CCA, nothing happens. Interestingly, it casts fine to my Google Home speakers.

Finally, I have a handful of 24/96 FLAC files that I would like to listen to. How do I cast those? I have tried using Desktop Audio Streamer but I am uncertain it is streaming at 24/96 as the highest rate is wav at 44.1.

What's the easiest way to accomplish what I want? Thanks in advance!

Matthew
 
Nov 13, 2020 at 9:15 AM Post #524 of 558

audiobomber

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Hello,

Newbie here, I have read through the last 5-6 pages and the first couple pages here. I picked up a CCA and am happy using it with Spotify. I use the analogue out and use a adapter cable to RCA into my integrated amp. Everything sounds fine.

I have started ripping my CD collections into FLAC and would like to (ideally) play those with the CCA as well. I have tried VLC Player casting and although I heard the blip (to indicate that my desktop computer is connected to the CCA) I don't hear anything and the time bar isn't moving (i.e. file not playing). The file plays fine locally. I have also tried playing the file on my Chrome browser and it plays fine. When I tried to cast it to my CCA, nothing happens. Interestingly, it casts fine to my Google Home speakers.

Finally, I have a handful of 24/96 FLAC files that I would like to listen to. How do I cast those? I have tried using Desktop Audio Streamer but I am uncertain it is streaming at 24/96 as the highest rate is wav at 44.1.

What's the easiest way to accomplish what I want? Thanks in advance!

Matthew
I have had very poor performance casting from my Windows laptop and tablet to CCA. Casting from my phone OTOH is pretty much flawless, even with hi-res FLAC files.

Using BubbleUPnP on your phone should work. Foobar2000 mobile version may also work, but I'm not certain about that one. I use QMusic mostly, but I believe it requires a QNAP NAS to work properly.
 
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Nov 13, 2020 at 9:30 AM Post #525 of 558

MattAu

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I have had very poor performance casting from my Windows laptop and tablet to CCA. Casting from my phone OTOH is pretty much flawless, even with hi-res FLAC files.

Using BubbleUPnP on your phone should work. Foobar2000 mobile version may also work, but I'm not certain about that one. I use QMusic mostly, but I believe it requires a QNAP NAS to work properly.

I have tried using VLC on my iPhone to access the files on my HDD and cast to the CCA. It worked but the sound quality was horrid - like I am listening in a tunnel! I suspect the problem is the file is being streamed from my drive to my phone and then stream to the CCA. I also don't know if it's because the CCA DAC and the iPhone DAC are both being used .
 

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