Can be sound of Chromecast Audio improved with external DAC - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 273 Old 05-30-2019, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Question Can be sound of Chromecast Audio improved with external DAC

Hello folks,

I am thinking to get external DAC for one of my Chromecast audio devices and wondering if sound of CCA can be dramatically improved with an external DAC?
Here are some points I like to get your insight:
  • what DAC you will use
  • how much improvement specific DAC will bring
  • don't want spend a fortune on a DAC for CCA
  • if higher priced DAC are more recommended than no more than 250$ used value

I did some research on the web and found a quite some contenders but like to hear also your opinion.
Thanks!
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post #2 of 273 Old 05-30-2019, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post

I am thinking to get external DAC for one of my Chromecast audio devices and wondering if sound of CCA can be dramatically improved with an external DAC?
No.

Well... maybe if you're peeking. See below.

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews...o,3733-19.html

https://translate.google.com/transla...tm&prev=search

https://translate.google.com/transla...tm&prev=search
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post #3 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 03:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
Hello folks,



I am thinking to get external DAC for one of my Chromecast audio devices and wondering if sound of CCA can be dramatically improved with an external DAC?

Here are some points I like to get your insight:


  • what DAC you will use
  • how much improvement specific DAC will bring
  • don't want spend a fortune on a DAC for CCA
  • if higher priced DAC are more recommended than no more than 250$ used value



I did some research on the web and found a quite some contenders but like to hear also your opinion.

Thanks!
I think there is possibilities what about trying Schiiit?

American made, has optical, recommended, cheap but good quality.

https://www.schiit.com/products/modi-1


If you want a more expensive Dac, I would also recommend a better streamer, blusound, or a Japaneese, etc

Last edited by IIDexII; 05-31-2019 at 03:39 AM.
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post #4 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 03:50 AM - Thread Starter
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So far I was looking into following ones:

Topping D30
Schiit Modi 3
JDSLab EL DAC
JDSLab OL DAC with optical input
Topping D50
Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 100
Audio Engine D1

and many more... but didn't get any wiser!

Just remember it needs to have optical input.


Edit: forget to look but just remembered that I like to have DSD playback, if possible...

Last edited by RAART; 05-31-2019 at 05:04 AM.
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post #5 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
So far I was looking into following ones:



Topping D30

Schiit Modi 3

JDSLab EL DAC

JDSLab OL DAC with optical input

Topping D50

Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 100

Audio Engine D1



and many more... but didn't get any wiser!



Just remember it needs to have optical input.





Edit: forget to look but just remembered that I like to have DSD playback, if possible...
DSD from Chromecast? How sent as pcm? I didn't know Chromecast did pcm
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post #6 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 06:14 AM - Thread Starter
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As far as I know the Chromecast internal DAC is AKM AK4430 192kHz 24-Bit Stereo DAC.
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post #7 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
As far as I know the Chromecast internal DAC is AKM AK4430 192kHz 24-Bit Stereo DAC.
As you know, you need a mini Toslink cable to replace the 3.5 mm audio cable.
I am not sure about getting DSD out to an external DAC.
I have a CCA and what I tested was streaming a DSD file and a 96 kHz hi resolution file to the CCA. That was using Plex and casting. The CCA is connected to a Denon X4200W. The 96 kHz file shows up as 96 kHz on the Denon input screen. The DSD shows up as 48 kHz, because somewhere in the chain, the file had to be converted to PCM. I am not positive if this is a Plex or CCA limitation. Is DSD even possible over a digital (not HDMI) connection?
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post #8 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I ordered already mini Toslink cable but didn't get the DAC while I am still debating...

So far I can tell that CCA plays all my FLAC and PCM files but does not play DSD. All files are streamed straight from my PC (Solus OS Linux) with VLC player. I did not set any server yet while files are easily played from folders where I have them with VLC, also from external drives.
Did not get Audacious to work, though the PC settings see all players on my network:
Chromecast Audio
Chromecast (also round, not sure about generation)
Yamaha WXA-50

Funny thing is that Yamaha (from USB stick) does play DSD files but does not output them to AUX out. All other files it does output to AUX out (analog). Do not get it why...
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post #9 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
I ordered already mini Toslink cable but didn't get the DAC while I am still debating...



So far I can tell that CCA plays all my FLAC and PCM files but does not play DSD. All files are streamed straight from my PC (Solus OS Linux) with VLC player. I did not set any server yet while files are easily played from folders where I have them with VLC, also from external drives.

Did not get Audacious to work, though the PC settings see all players on my network:

Chromecast Audio

Chromecast (also round, not sure about generation)

Yamaha WXA-50



Funny thing is that Yamaha (from USB stick) does play DSD files but does not output them to AUX out. All other files it does output to AUX out (analog). Do not get it why...
DSD is complicated, what do you send? Stereo? 5.1?

I know I can send DSD stereo and 5.1 via Hdmi, I can send "lossy" DTS via coax and Optical...

Im not sure but think I've played DSD via digital without hdmi only stereo but not Shure what I get out..
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post #10 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
I ordered already mini Toslink cable but didn't get the DAC while I am still debating...



So far I can tell that CCA plays all my FLAC and PCM files but does not play DSD. All files are streamed straight from my PC (Solus OS Linux) with VLC player. I did not set any server yet while files are easily played from folders where I have them with VLC, also from external drives.

Did not get Audacious to work, though the PC settings see all players on my network:

Chromecast Audio

Chromecast (also round, not sure about generation)

Yamaha WXA-50



Funny thing is that Yamaha (from USB stick) does play DSD files but does not output them to AUX out. All other files it does output to AUX out (analog). Do not get it why...

Chromecast is meant for streaming Spotify and maybe some flacs in stereo.

If you want something more advanced, I would look into an affordable good quality streamer.
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post #11 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 09:49 AM
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What is your issue with the CCA's sound quality?

FWIW, I run mine through a Cambridge Audio DAC, have also run it though a schiit modi multibit, and my receiver, with no apparent sound quality differences.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
I am thinking to get external DAC for one of my Chromecast audio devices and wondering if sound of CCA can be dramatically improved with an external DAC?
No.
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post #13 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 10:58 AM
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Dramatically? No.

Somewhat? Yes.

The DAC in the chromecast audio isn't horrible. Unless you have a really resolving system and can stream very high quality files, I doubt you'll notice a lot of difference. But, there are certain times that it may be "handy" to have the CCA go into a DAC/external transport/Integrated Amp of some sort.
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post #14 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 11:19 AM
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What is your issue with the CCA's sound quality?



FWIW, I run mine through a Cambridge Audio DAC, have also run it though a schiit modi multibit, and my receiver, with no apparent sound quality differences.
I didnt say I have issues with it, just that it has certain limits, I'm happy that CCA exist because it makes streaming music Spotify and flacs cheap... Hell I use a 49$ MxQ plus whatever to play Tidal and YouTube music.. but I already have an old Dac in my Avr pre.
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post #15 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 11:41 AM
 
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It is possible using an outboard DAC will make the sound inferior and here's why.

The unit itself has a very capable DAC built in and it can directly convert every single digital format it is designed to encounter and convert it to analog, music. Done.

If using the Toslink digital out the incoming signal can again be anything under the sun which it is designed for however the Chromecast device will then have to CONVERT it to a digital signal which Toslink can then carry such as S/PDIF PCM. The signal now travels to the outboard DAC and gets converted to analog.

Here's an example . Using an incoming Hi-Res signal such as 24-bit/96 kHz you then have to downgrade the signal, because Toslink can't carry it, to say SD [standard resolution] 16-bit/44 or 48 kHz PCM. So rather than taking the best signal possible and converting it to analog directly with a AKM AK4430 DAC, instead there is a [potential] loss of quality because of:

A. - the conversion process from one digital format to another
B. - the forced use of a lower resolution format to transfer the signal via optical.
C. - an outboard DAC with inferior performance to an AKM AK4430 DAC, true of many even very expensive outboard DACs because they are long in the tooth [more than a few years old]
---

It's a shame the internet worries so much about digital stuff when it hardly matters. What matters is the speakers used, their position and aiming, and the room.

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post #16 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 01:35 PM
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Here OP, this thread is pretty factual (rather than the speculation going on in here):



https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...l-output.4544/
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Jitter in modern day DACs is inaudible but boy does it make for a great way to scaremonger: "Look everyone! This number is much bigger than this other number! Be afraid!"
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Prices for nonsensical DAC's and overpriced cables to provide audio perfection gives me the jitters.
It's beyond me how one has a DAC in device A, a DAC in device B, but uses neither because the internet/forums/marketeers profess that the of DAC C device will "lift the veil".



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post #19 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 02:37 PM
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Playing DSD now, 5.1 Trondheimsolistene Mozart Sacd.
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post #20 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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I just wanted to stream hi-rez files from my PC to my audio system and therefore while I have CCA thought it would be nice to use it as bridge, but... this brought another issue as CCA does not want to play DSD files I have on my PC, mainly superaudio cd stuff that I have collected. I thought that external DAC with DSD ability will help but not sure now. Also I thought that external DAC will improve sonic abilities of CCA at some point and this has been proven to be correct in other thread (linked above in the discussion). Not much but some improvement.

Also it looks like that DSD SACD are playing on CCA now, thanks to IIDexII...

I just hesitating to pull the trigger on NAD DAC 2 Wireless just for the PC and leave CCA for Spotify only. BTW I never said or complain about sound quality of CCA. I always praised the sound of it on its own but there is something in me that wants me to experiment and see if I can get a bit better sound of it. Always open-minded and ready to experiment!

BTW Currently the NAD DAC is 99$ here in Canada and it is sold by NAD through Amazon. I guess there is advantage as NAD being Canadian company.

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post #21 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I just bought NAD DAC 2 Wireless... next weekend should be here, even is just on the other side of Toronto but I opted for free shipping.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAART View Post
I just wanted to stream hi-rez files from my PC to my audio system and therefore while I have CCA thought it would be nice to use it as bridge, but... this brought another issue as CCA does not want to play DSD files I have on my PC, mainly superaudio cd stuff that I have collected. I thought that external DAC with DSD ability will help but not sure now. Also I thought that external DAC will improve sonic abilities of CCA at some point and this has been proven to be correct in other thread (linked above in the discussion). Not much but some improvement.



Also it looks like that DSD SACD are playing on CCA now, thanks to IIDexII...



I just hesitating to pull the trigger on NAD DAC 2 Wireless just for the PC and leave CCA for Spotify only. BTW I never said or complain about sound quality of CCA. I always praised the sound of it on its own but there is something in me that wants me to experiment and see if I can get a bit better sound of it. Always open-minded and ready to experiment!



BTW Currently the NAD DAC is 99$ here in Canada and it is sold by NAD through Amazon. I guess there is advantage as NAD being Canadian company.
I love NAD, has a NAD BEE cd player as we speak. The last one before the great Norwegian bjørn died....

Has enjoyed it max today......

Nad makes great good quality hifi gear, PSB speakers is in theyr Canadian gear also. Wish I had money to buy their Nad Viso bt headphones but as many times before I missed the sale.

The Bluesound series node Streamer is in fact also owned/made by Nad.
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post #23 of 273 Old 05-31-2019, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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In a fact I am listening to PSB speakers (GB1, same drivers as their reference series at that point) on Rotel gear but still like NAD as I had them before... NAD gear with KEF speakers was for long time my favorite listening gear.

PSB purchased NAD some years back.
Did not know that Bluesound is also owned by NAD.

EDIT: I really like NAD C 658...

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post #24 of 273 Old 06-01-2019, 04:33 AM
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In a fact I am listening to PSB speakers (GB1, same drivers as their reference series at that point) on Rotel gear but still like NAD as I had them before... NAD gear with KEF speakers was for long time my favorite listening gear.



PSB purchased NAD some years back.

Did not know that Bluesound is also owned by NAD.



EDIT: I really like NAD C 658...
All is owned by Ledbrook. It's easy to see in theyr products.. for example Nad headphones and PSB headphones is very similar built... The Bluesound node comes with update modules a typical NAD functionality....
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post #25 of 273 Old 06-01-2019, 06:02 AM
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I purchased the RME ADI2 DAC about a year ago. Very pleased w/the unit. Also is a headphone amp which allows for either IEM's or standard headphones. Lots of features that fine tune your sound.

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post #26 of 273 Old 06-01-2019, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I did not paid attention in recent hifi world acquisitions but it is correct what you said. PSB speakers partnered with Lenbrook in 1985 and since then they are one company....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Class A View Post
I purchased the RME ADI2 DAC about a year ago. Very pleased w/the unit. Also is a headphone amp which allows for either IEM's or standard headphones. Lots of features th fine tune your sound.
I did not have pleasure of listening to that brand, but since I will go back to Europe for a vacation I may look into... it looks like very nice unit and since I own back home T+A Elektroakustik pre-amp with power amp and speakers I will need to add to my trusty Marantz CD 16 an external DAC and that might be a solution if I do not go again with T+A...

Thanks for turning my attention to that brand.

EDIT: I just have read some amazing reviews about that unit (mostly in German language) and I am very intrigued now!
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post #28 of 273 Old 06-02-2019, 12:25 AM
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Schiit Modi 3 is what I ended up with. Way better than the onboard DAC in Chromecast Audio.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
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post #29 of 273 Old 06-02-2019, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
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Also it looks like that DSD SACD are playing on CCA now, thanks to IIDexII...
The comment in that post was that a DSD file was playing, but not necessarily getting to the external DAC as DSD? My test file was playing but was converted to PCM.

My previous comment about a 96 kHz file was for a 24 bit / 96 kHz file. However, the incoming signal to the receiver was displayed as simply 96 kHz and doesn't prove it was not downgraded. I did a Google search and it appears that 96/24 is normally achievable but higher is not. Depends also on the optical transmitter and optical receiver, not just the cable.
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post #30 of 273 Old 06-02-2019, 08:24 AM
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If you use the CCA’s analog audio out, you can enable higher quality audio (an option in the Google Home app), but if you plug a Mini-TOSlink cable in, the CCA defaults to this option. I don’t know about the quality of the DAC in the $25 CCA, but perhaps your AVR’s DAC is “better.” Of course, if you stream a service for free that limits the audio resolution it will make little difference. Some only offer high bandwidth audio if you subscribe.
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