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post #1 of 70 Old 03-25-2018, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Chromecast Audio 23-Zone Whole House Conversion Project

I’ve benefited tremendously from the information and expertise shared on this forum but have selfishly returned little. So this is a loooong “give back” from a guilty lurker! Let’s jump into the nuts and bolts and I’ll save a little philosophy for the end.

I recently completed a total “rip out and replacement” of the audio side of my A-V environment. This was a Russound WHA system that I installed 11 years ago when we built our house. AV tech and solutions have changed so much in that time frame that my original decisions now seem almost laughable! Those were the days before network enabled equipment, smart phones, apps, streaming services …

Note that I’m breaking this into 2 parts (since it’s absurdly long). In this first part I’ll describe the context of my application, the original Russound system solution, and the eventual Chromecast Audio replacement. In Part 2 I’ll go through some of the specific evaluations and decisions I made along the way – Google vs Amazon, CCA vs Sonos, and multi-channel amp options.


In the Beginning …

Here were the original system specs (23 zones):
13 Stereo Zones
3 Home Theater Zones Surround Zones
7 A-Bus Stereo Zones
I installed almost 60 in-wall, in-ceiling, diplex, surround, subwoofer, and outdoor speakers and ran over 10 miles of wiring. That sounds like a lot until you start subtracting out all the stuff I no longer use – component video cables (pre-HDMI), coax TV cables (pre-cord cutting), CCTV coax+power (pre-IP camera). There was also a bunch of fire/alarm/ sensor wiring. Fortunately, I did run lots of Cat 5/6 cable (WAY more drops than I've ever used), and I home runned all the speakers (except for 3 zones - which came back to haunt me later). Everything terminated in a dedicated wiring closet.

The Russound gear consisted of 2 CAV6.6 controllers (6 zones each + A-Bus), 1 R1250 12 channel amp, 12 Uno keypads (single line display), 7 A-Bus amp’d keypads, an ST2XM tuner for XM / OTA radio, and a HTPC serving up the ripped mp3’s. I don’t even want to think about how much this all cost “back in the day”! For audio content I was relying on a large library of CD’s (which turned into ripped mp3’s) and XM Radio.

Mission accomplished … sort of! We could play any of the source material in any room (or rooms). We could locally switch sources and control the volume using the keypads. The limits of a single line display quickly became apparent – it just wasn’t very useful! It worked best for confirming the source and for selecting XM channels. It wasn’t effective at all for selecting artist/album/song title. So all the expensive keypad gear really just became glorified on/off, volume, source selectors.


Version 2.0 …

Jump forward a few years and along come smart phones and streaming media apps … That totally changed the way we consumed and interacted with all our media and made the audio system in the house even less satisfying! Outside of home we rarely listened to our CD/mp3 content, and I only really listened to XM in the car. Instead we became Spotify/Pandora/podcast addicts and really craved the same rich user interface that we experienced on our phones & tablets while we were at home. Something had to change!

I initially added a single Sonos CONNECT as a source input to the Russound system. Now listening to music became a 2-step process. Use the Russound keypad to turn on the zone and select the source. Then immediately jump over to a phone/tablet/computer and fire up Sonos to navigate streaming source and content. We found quickly that the Sonos became the only source we ever really used. This worked OK for multi-zone (any room) but not well for multi-source (only 1 Sonos!). I strongly considered adding more Sonos CONNECT’s to give us more flexibility, but at $350 a pop it was an expensive option. And I still had all the Russound infrastructure getting in the way. I really wanted to replace the whole system but couldn’t find an option that really matched up to our wants/needs. Which leads to ...


Decision Time …

I had learned a lot along the way about what we liked/didn't like and what we used/didn't use. So I tried to realistically narrow down the priorities for a system replacement …

- We enjoy a wide range of music styles and hugely enjoy the streaming world of Spotify, Pandora, etc. For us nothing is more gratifying than going on an "Easter egg hunt", finding a new artist or song, pulling up all the details, and immediately adding it to our playlists, followed artists, saved library, "radio stations", etc. Being able to play locally sourced (CD/mp3) material would be a bonus, but not one that we would use very often.

- We know that the rich interface provided by apps like Spotify and Pandora can never be matched by any amount of "metadata" on keypad displays (no matter the $$$). We also tend to want to take our “controller” with us as we roam in and out of the house and from room to room. We are not only fine with smart phones & tablets as controllers, we prefer them. Oh … then there’s also voice command 😊

- After having a house full of keypads, we know we don’t like them! We are fine with controlling volume through the same device we are using to control content (see above).

- We most often only play music locally in a single room at a time. We do like the ability to let different users select different sources while in different parts of the house. We also want something simple enough for kids and guests to use. Finally we do want to preserve the ability to play the same source in multiple rooms using user defined “groups”.

- While I appreciate audio quality, I’m not playing source material through an expensive dedicated audio system in an optimized space. I am using good (to very good) quality speakers, but this is a whole house application.

- I am an avowed (more like fanatical) DIY’er! I won’t even consider solutions that require a dealer for purchase, installation, and/or recurring programming.

- I want a solution that is modular so that I can change out the sources, amps, etc. separately in the future as new things show up. “All in one” systems offer convenience, ease of installation, and stability, but you are locked into a total (often proprietary) solution if you ever want to upgrade.

- And of course I didn’t want it to cost anything (dream on ...)! Realistically, I’ve found that I trade off how much I spend on a tech solution with how long I feel I’m stuck with it! For me it’s never just the up front cost, it’s how soon I want to upgrade or play with a different solution.

Your mileage may (and should!) vary. This was my shopping list …


Enter Chromecast Audio!

I kept watching developments in WHA systems, hardware streamers, software solutions, etc. but nothing ever really checked all my boxes. Then I remembered my friends at AVS Forum! Searching started turning up mentions of using Google & Amazon devices for WHA applications. Ultimately I found Mike’s thread at https://www.avsforum.com/forum/36-hom...use-audio.html and had my “eureka” moment (thanks Mike!). Although I confess I had a huge mental battle with "can it really be that simple?" ...

From the beginning I planned on this being a total replacement for the current equipment. I started by pulling out all the Russound keypads and blanking over the openings. I also stripped out the CAV’s, Russound Amp, XM Receiver and patch cabling out to all the keypad locations. The only original hardware left were the 3 A-Bus wall panels (more on that later).

Here was the replacement equipment list …
13 CCA Pucks (Multi-Channel Amp Zones) = $35 x 13 = $455
1 CCA Puck (A-Bus Source) = $35 x 1 = $35
3 CCA Pucks (H-T Receiver Zones) = $35 x 3 = $105
17 CCA Ethernet Adapters = $15 x 17 = $255
3 Dayton MA1260 12-Channel Amps = $600 x 3 = $1,800
Russound A-H4 A-Bus Hub (+ Existing In-Wall Keypads) = $150
Ethernet 24-Port Switch = $80
14 CCA – RCA Cables = $5 x 14 = $70
3 x CCA – Optical Cables = $5 x 3 = $15
Total CCA System Cost = $2,965

I also ended up picking up a Google Home Mini ($49) and an Asus ZenPad 8 ($125) to evaluate as options for front end control (in addition to our phones). Before you ask about the A-Bus hardware, remember my initial stupid decision not to home run speaker wiring to 3 of my zones (all guest baths)? I couldn’t access these areas to retrofit with direct speaker wiring, so I still needed a way to support A-Bus. Which set me back the extra $150 … lesson learned!


Results

I’ve attached pictures showing how this all turned out.
- Pic 1 shows the 14 CCA pucks feeding the Dayton amps and A-Bus hub. If you pay close attention you can see I have trouble with labeling my "6's" and "9's" - ugh!
- Pic 2 shows part of the CCA Ethernet Adapters. There are actually 3 "banks" of these. I added a dedicated switch close to these to minimize patch cable runs - it links back to my main network switches.
- Pic 3 shows the back of the Dayton amps. Some of the CCA's directly feed specific Zones and some tie to the bus inputs on the amps. Looks like I've got 1 amp zone left ...
- Pic 4 shows the front of the amps, Ethernet adapters, and swich. All the amps are in "sleepy" mode since I'm not driving anything.

Bottom line this has been a great project and delivered exactly what we were looking for at a cost that was a lot less than I expected! We don’t miss the keypads at all and find our music search and playback experience a lot easier and more intuitive than it was before.

Here are some candid observations after living with things for a relatively short period of time. If I’ve missed anything on this part of the write-up please just let me know! I’m happy to share any of our personal real-world pluses or minuses ...

- Setup: While initial setup and configuration of all the CCA’s was tedious (17 of them!), it wasn’t difficult or complicated. I used the Google Home app to initialize each CCA, assign a name, and tweak the sound settings (Full Dynamic Range). Once all the CCA’s were configured I then created custom Groups for multi-room playback. All the CCA’s fed into the Dayton amps via RCA – either directly into a Zone or through one of the Dayton’s buses. One CCA fed the A-Bus hub and three were connected to H-Theater receivers via optical input. I linked Google Home to my Spotify and Pandora accounts. I didn’t have to do any setup on these apps installed on our phones and tablets

- CCA “Organization”: I originally wanted to stack all the CCA’s together neatly (to appease my inner neat freak). I find that they do intermittently generate a fair amount of heat, so I just ended up “spreading them out” since I have plenty of room.

- Signal / Control Stability: I can’t say how the system would have performed if it was all wi-fi based. I can say that with everything connected via the CCA Ethernet adapters it has been rock solid and very responsive – no strange drop-out’s, freezes, or buffering delays.

- Groups (Simultaneous Playback Across Zones): The CCA’s perform flawlessly when playing the same source together as a multi-zone Group. I’ve output to all 23 zones simultaneously (whole house!) and cannot detect any lag as I walk from room to room. Unless I throw a party for the entire neighborhood I probably won't use this "everything everywhere" option, but it is admittedly cool!

- Multiple Zone Playback (Different Sources): It is entirely possible to play back different content in different Zones (rooms) at the same time! This is largely limited by the number of different devices you have that can start a casting session. I’ve used the Asus tablet in the Kitchen to play one Spotify account in that room, my phone to play a second Spotify account in a different room, a Google Mini to play Pandora in a third room, a different Google Mini to play iHeartRadio, my wife’s phone to listen to a podcast – all at the same time. What doesn’t work is to try to use the same device to start multiple casting “sessions” in different rooms. For example I can’t use my phone to play one source in one room and a different source in a different room.

- Complexity: This is a lot of “moving parts”, but the user experience/interface doesn’t feel that way! Direct casting from Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and other native streaming apps works very well and is very intuitive for selecting playback to Zones/Groups. The Google Home app adds an additional level of control in case I need to “tweak” the volume level for each room in a Group. I’ve been able to successfully “pass” control from Spotify on one device (phone) to Google Home on another device (tablet). All the individual casting sessions show up as notifications on my Android phone (don't know about iOS) and I can control them from there. Once we understood the playback flow, it has really become second nature.
On the negative side, I find that I do have to rely at times on the Google Home app to stop a casting session. Fore example, I can pause playback in Spotify but that doesn’t really stop the signal (cast). I end up either using the notification widget on my phone or the Google Home app to actually stop the session completely. This is only an occasional issue that I run into if I’m flipping rapidly between different sources/apps while I’m in the same location (zone).

- Control Devices: We typically default to the streaming apps that are already installed on our phones / tablets. It’s the way we intuitively play music now where ever we are, and at home we only have to add the step of selecting the casting destination (Zone or Group). The device volume control logically controls the CCA volume playback. We can walk to a different room, switch casting destinations and the music stops playing the previous room and starts playing in the new location. I’ve placed the Asus ZenPad in the kitchen as a “kiosk”, and we are getting used to walking over to it to browse and search for new music. For “casual” playback we are defaulting more and more to the next option …

- Voice Control: We were so used to directly using our streaming apps to select and play music that I really didn’t think we would use Google’s voice recognition much. Chalk up another wrong assumption for me! We are still just getting used to being able to “ask” for what we want to hear , but we already find it ridiculously convenient. I’m seeding Google Mini’s in the rooms we use most often and have them set to default to CCA playback in those specific rooms. That way we can just ask Google to play a specific album/artist/song and it will automatically play in that room. Otherwise can just specify the name of the destination zone to play in a different room.

- If you do a search across this forum, you will turn up a lot of great CCA threads that expand on other features and capabilities that we really aren’t using (yet) in our application. This includes casting from other sources, using Plex to cast stored media content, other options for “controllers” (low cost pre-paid Android phones), etc.


Parting Thoughts (Finally!) …

I couldn’t be happier with the way this whole project turned out! It isn’t 100% perfect, but I have learned along the way there ain’t no such thing! It will be fun to watch how casting technology, the Google Home, and music streaming services & apps continue to evolve and improve. So whether you are considering solutions for new construction, system replacement (like me), or playing with your first audio zones, here’s my parting “wisdom” (remember what they say about free advice) …

- No solution will be perfect (yes I’m repeating myself on purpose). If you manage your upfront cost, maintain flexibility (especially with wiring), and stick with open solutions then you can roll with the changes.

- You need to be honest with yourself about what YOU (and your family & friends) really want from YOUR system. Always take any advice (including mine!) in that context – it’s your decision! Try not to get hung up on any one “have to” thing – you may miss a really cool option or solution. If it helps, I always find that how I envision/dream I will use a new system is rarely how things end up getting used IRL. That's especially after I spend much time reading these forums ... 😊

- Everything is a trade-off. It is easy (really easy!) to drop a ton of $$$ on A-V systems! That isn’t necessarily better, it’s just more expensive. Know what you want, experiment/play if you can, and pick a reasonable starting point. Plan on learning along the way so you can make even better decisions in the future. The options we have available to us today will most definitely not be the options available in the (near) future.

- Simple is better! If you are like me, you will end up using less “neat stuff” than you think you will, but you will use the “good stuff” more than you thought you would. Extra features, bells & whistles, fancy hardware, etc. are the first to go (if they are used at all). I can't tell you how much fancy/complicated/(expensive) stuff I've stopped using and ripped out over the years. What absolutely does get used and loved is simple, easy access to the music you like where you want it, a rich browsing and search experience, and the ability to just play music (“Hey Google play Needtobreathe on the patio”)!


Huge thanks again to all the contributors! Your help and inspiration have been of far greater value than you will ever know ...

Rick
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Last edited by fhcraig; 03-25-2018 at 07:17 PM.
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post #2 of 70 Old 03-25-2018, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Part 2 – Evaluations

As a companion to the previous long-winded description of my Russound to CCA conversion, these are some of the individual evaluations / tests / decisions I stepped through during the project.

Google vs Amazon

Disclaimer - these observations are based on my own research and hands on testing. It doesn’t mean I got everything right! If I missed something or got it wrong, please let me know and I’ll correct this comparison. For testing I actually purchased multiple CCA’s + Home Mini on the Google side and several Echo Dots on the Amazon side. I was making a pretty big decision and investment in one or the other, so actual test hardware was important. I wanted to actually see it in operation for myself using the sources and typical uses that we needed. No spoiler alert warning needed … you already know which direction I ended up going!

Here were the key take away’s for my application:

- Groups: As noted, we typically use audio zones (rooms) one at a time. There are situations, however, when we want the same music playing across multiple zones, across an entire floor, or throughout the whole house. At present, Amazon only lets each hardware device (zone) be assigned to a single custom Group. If I want my kitchen and dining room playing together in a Group, then I couldn’t also include them in a “whole floor” or “whole house” Group. Google Home lets you easily create as many custom Groups as you want and put any devices in any Group(s). It is very easy and works extremely well. I’ve nailed up custom Groups and seen them appear almost instantly in the list of casting “devices”. This was “must have” for me.

- Ethernet vs Wi-Fi: With the large number of streaming devices in this application, I wasn’t remotely comfortable supporting it using just wi-fi! I didn’t want buffering and drop-out’s and wanted the best response time between control inputs (phone/tablet/voice) and system response. The Ethernet adapter option for the CCA’s is genius. And at $15 each it’s a steal. This was another “must have” for my application.

- Audio Output Options: I confess I didn’t catch on originally that the CCA output jack is a dual purpose analog / optical output! This was a nice “find” since I can feed directly in to the optical inputs on my H-T Receivers!

- Casting Support / Stability: Overall I found that Spotify and Pandora (2 of our major streaming sources) simply performed better and more reliably when casting to the CCA’s vs playing through Alexa to the Echo Dots. Pandora will only stream to Amazon devices when playing back from the Alexa app, not the native Pandora app.

- Google Home vs Amazon Alexa Apps: At least on my (Android) phone, I found the Google Home app to be more stable and responsive. The Alexa app was buggy and often “lost” Zones and Groups.

- Voice Support: I do admit to finding Alexa a little more intuitive than Google Home. I don’t have any extensive infrastructure invested either way so I can build out and learn one as easily as the other. When using CCA’s, Google is ridiculously simple to use to control music playback (as described in Part 1).


Sonos Option

I became familiar with the Sonos “world” when we were using the CONNECT as a front end to the old Russound system. Right up front I confess that Sonos was a huge step up for us at that time! For me it’s strengths were the ability to support multiple streaming services, ease of selecting zones, and the rich user interface. I learned just how important those features really are in the real world. I have found that the CCA solution provides those same important features with one major difference. In my specific application (large number of zones), CCA simply crushes the cost of Sonos!

Here’s the build out if I had gone with Sonos …
Sonos CONNECT x 17 = $350 x 17 = $5,950
Dayton MA1260 x 3 = $800 x 3 = $2,400
Russound A-H4 A-Bus Hub (+ Existing In-Wall Keypads) = $150
Ethernet 24-Port Switch = $80
14 x RCA Cables = $7 x 14 = $98
3 x Optical Cables = $6 x 3 = $18
Total Sonos System Cost = $8,696

Remember my total spend for the CCA build was $2,965. Even my math challenged brain figured that out pretty quickly – Sonos would have cost almost 3x more $$$! I know a lot of people love Sonos, and I’m not arguing the point. Cost isn’t the only criteria, and for some it isn’t the most important one. I’m simply saying that Sonos wasn’t the right solution for my application and the cost comparison was extremely hard to ignore. As a previous Sonos user, I also feel I haven’t lost the key user interface and streaming integration advantages by going with CCA.


Multi-Channel Amp Criteria

When evaluating multi-channel amps, I did look at specs and cost (since I needed 3 of them!). In addition, however, I had a few more “must have’s” in this application:

- Zone Input Sensing: I wanted an amp that would power on (and off) based on input signals from the CCA’s present at any of the zone inputs. I’m not using any other external triggering and didn’t want the amps to stay powered up when the CCA's were inactive.

- Input Bus Support: I have several groups of speakers that are always active together. The amp needed the ability to drive these speaker groups together from a common bus input. In addition I needed the ability to adjust the individual input level for each bus zone so I could balance out the volume level.

The Dayton’s work great in my application! The zones all autosense cleanly with the CCA’s. The bus flexibility is a plus (there are 2 separate input buses) since I do have some zones where I need to output to an external sub amp in addition to some traditional bus fed speaker groups. There is more than enough power - I’ve actually had to dial back on the input sensitivity on a lot of zones since I was exceeding comfortable listening volume with the volume level barely cracked open! There are other great multi-channel amps out there, and you should choose based on your criteria and the quality of the speakers you are feeding. If you remember back to my original equipment list, I did have a Russound R1250 that I could have recycled to save some $$$. It’s a huge, heavy beast and is now 11 years old, so it wasn't that hard to part ways with. The Dayton’s are smaller, lighter and offer the zone input sensing I was looking for.

Thanks (again)!
Rick

Last edited by fhcraig; 03-25-2018 at 06:47 PM.
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post #3 of 70 Old 03-26-2018, 10:24 AM
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Very nice! You did an outstanding job of documenting not just your system but how you got there! Kudos to you!

This will be a very helpful post to others following in your wake.

thx
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post #4 of 70 Old 03-26-2018, 04:40 PM
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Wow, thats the most CCA's in a single system I've heard of. I've heard of people having issues when they get to 6 or 7, but evidently that is not the limit. I see that they are all in one place, which means there is little variance in wifi signal between them. Maybe that helps.

Thank you for sharing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post
Wow, thats the most CCA's in a single system I've heard of. I've heard of people having issues when they get to 6 or 7, but evidently that is not the limit. I see that they are all in one place, which means there is little variance in wifi signal between them. Maybe that helps.

Thank you for sharing.
The issue is being all connected to WiFi. If you hard connect them with ethernet the way the OP did, they scale very well. You should be able to do quite a bit more. But the protocol they use is hard on wifi. And all those short status packets burn up WiFi airtime as well.

If you have more than a handful, best to connect them by ethernet. the $15 power supply/ethernet adapter works quite well. And works on normal video chromecasts too.

thx
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post #6 of 70 Old 03-26-2018, 08:16 PM
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Ahh. Thanks for clarifying. I missed that detail.
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post #7 of 70 Old 03-27-2018, 12:28 PM
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Looks great.. thanks for the write up...
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my compliments to the OP: great project

I have done several systems using Elan and RTI distributed audio systems: never considered doing it this way

thanks for this thread

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Great write up

I'll add that this is a great writeup. And I'll add my two cents as well as i had a very similar (yet smaller) install in my house....

We just recently built a new house and I wanted several zones of music. We are at the point now where we only stream music, and only stream from Spotify, we pay for the premium service and have been sold on that for a few years now. I researched options a lot on this site, and had very similar thoughts to the OP. This is what we ended up with:

1 Niles SI-1230 Amp to control 4 zones (Dining Room, Deck, Master Bed, Master Bath)
1 Russound P-75 to control 1 zone (4 speakers in kitchen and EIK)
1 Russound P-75 to control 1 zone (4 Speakers in living room)
1 AVR controlling a chromecast in the basement.

So, in total we hooked up 7 chromecast to date. I have plans to install more outdoor speakers and run another P-75 to those at our patio, but that should be it.

For the house, we have Polk RC80i speakers throughout with the exception of the Bath, which has the smaller RC60is as its a smaller space. Chromecast are all hooked up via 3.5mm to RCA splitters and running via wifi at this point. I have a Netgear R8000 adjacent to the CCAs and have yet to experience any issues with dropping, pausing, delays, etc. They are instantaneous and work great.

I have considered grabbing the Ethernet Adapters, but to date have had no issues with wifi so i'm holding off for now. May consider down the road to take load on my wifi (I not only have the R8000 set up as my router in my rack area in the basement, but have two R7000s set up as APs as well for the 1st and 2nd floors as well).

From a wiring standpoint, we had everything centrally wired (along with coax and ethernet) to my basement utility room where i have a rack set up with all equipment.


Thoughts in General

System has been great, the CCAs are cheap, but they do what i want, i can stream to any zone or any combination of zones, control each zones volume independently, controls are instantaneous.

Spotify works really well with CCAs, only issue is there is no gapless playback over CCA or crossfade, assuming due to the complexity of the stream to do that over multiple devices.

Volume is quite loud - have all of these set up using the AVR settings, so high quality stream. These are loud. i have the gain on all amps well below 1/2. Volume is great for backround music all the way up to party mode... Only issue i've had is at night, if we want very light sounds (ie. listen to rain on the speakers for sleep), even at 1% it can be louder than we like... i think i can adjust a little more with the gain, but start to get the gain so low it has issues... so as is its fine, but those last few % at the bottom can be tough for us....


All in, i picked up the amps used from friends, i think i was under $500 for all the amps and CCAs, so way cheap. Speakers added up, but still all in was under 1500 for the entire WHA system and now we have music everywhere we want...

I ended up picking up several Asus ZenPad 8.0s to be used to control the whole system. I liked the idea of having tablets around the house for this use rather than using our phones all the time (which we can do no problem). Having the tablets allows each main area (kitchen/eat in kitchen, family room/deck and master bed/bath) to have its own controls to be used when you're listening to music. Really like the setup. I picked these up used off ebay for around $150 all in for all 3, so again, was able to do this on the cheap and get great control of this entire system. Again, we can use our phones, but it a bit of a pain if someone starts casing from their phone then leaves, if you want to adjust the setting, stop, volume, etc, its a little of a hassle (not much)... by having dedicated tablets around for the system (as well as for our Roku TVs) we can control the entire system using the tablets. Tablets running android 7.0.

I think thats it, just wanted to echo the OPs comments on how great the WHA sysem can be with CCAs and WHA amps for the setup.
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post #10 of 70 Old 03-27-2018, 11:52 PM
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I'll add that this is a great writeup. And I'll add my two cents as well as i had a very similar (yet smaller) install in my house....

We just recently built a new house and I wanted several zones of music. We are at the point now where we only stream music, and only stream from Spotify, we pay for the premium service and have been sold on that for a few years now. I researched options a lot on this site, and had very similar thoughts to the OP. This is what we ended up with:

1 Niles SI-1230 Amp to control 4 zones (Dining Room, Deck, Master Bed, Master Bath)
1 Russound P-75 to control 1 zone (4 speakers in kitchen and EIK)
1 Russound P-75 to control 1 zone (4 Speakers in living room)
1 AVR controlling a chromecast in the basement.

So, in total we hooked up 7 chromecast to date. I have plans to install more outdoor speakers and run another P-75 to those at our patio, but that should be it.

For the house, we have Polk RC80i speakers throughout with the exception of the Bath, which has the smaller RC60is as its a smaller space. Chromecast are all hooked up via 3.5mm to RCA splitters and running via wifi at this point. I have a Netgear R8000 adjacent to the CCAs and have yet to experience any issues with dropping, pausing, delays, etc. They are instantaneous and work great.

I have considered grabbing the Ethernet Adapters, but to date have had no issues with wifi so i'm holding off for now. May consider down the road to take load on my wifi (I not only have the R8000 set up as my router in my rack area in the basement, but have two R7000s set up as APs as well for the 1st and 2nd floors as well).

From a wiring standpoint, we had everything centrally wired (along with coax and ethernet) to my basement utility room where i have a rack set up with all equipment.


Thoughts in General

System has been great, the CCAs are cheap, but they do what i want, i can stream to any zone or any combination of zones, control each zones volume independently, controls are instantaneous.

Spotify works really well with CCAs, only issue is there is no gapless playback over CCA or crossfade, assuming due to the complexity of the stream to do that over multiple devices.

Volume is quite loud - have all of these set up using the AVR settings, so high quality stream. These are loud. i have the gain on all amps well below 1/2. Volume is great for backround music all the way up to party mode... Only issue i've had is at night, if we want very light sounds (ie. listen to rain on the speakers for sleep), even at 1% it can be louder than we like... i think i can adjust a little more with the gain, but start to get the gain so low it has issues... so as is its fine, but those last few % at the bottom can be tough for us....


All in, i picked up the amps used from friends, i think i was under $500 for all the amps and CCAs, so way cheap. Speakers added up, but still all in was under 1500 for the entire WHA system and now we have music everywhere we want...

I ended up picking up several Asus ZenPad 8.0s to be used to control the whole system. I liked the idea of having tablets around the house for this use rather than using our phones all the time (which we can do no problem). Having the tablets allows each main area (kitchen/eat in kitchen, family room/deck and master bed/bath) to have its own controls to be used when you're listening to music. Really like the setup. I picked these up used off ebay for around $150 all in for all 3, so again, was able to do this on the cheap and get great control of this entire system. Again, we can use our phones, but it a bit of a pain if someone starts casing from their phone then leaves, if you want to adjust the setting, stop, volume, etc, its a little of a hassle (not much)... by having dedicated tablets around for the system (as well as for our Roku TVs) we can control the entire system using the tablets. Tablets running android 7.0.

I think thats it, just wanted to echo the OPs comments on how great the WHA sysem can be with CCAs and WHA amps for the setup.
Obviously, an ethernet (hardwired) set up as best in any situation like this. However, many of us live in homes where stringing such wire is impossible. So what we did, was use a mesh system. There are several out there, but we use the Google one. We only have 4 CCA units, and three Google home mini units (to use on the balconies) and one Google home device that's used as a speaker and for other Google activities in the kitchen. The Google home is often use to give music commands for the two groups that we formed.
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I have a similar set up except with 10 hardwired CCA's, but have been experiencing numerous issues with devices disappearing as cast targets. I have to do an entire system restart to get them all back online. I'm anxious to hear some longer term feedback from the OP. If his systems stays stable (meaning CCA's visible), then maybe there's hope yet for my system. Mine worked very well up until mid-December.
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post #12 of 70 Old 03-28-2018, 07:17 PM
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The issue is being all connected to WiFi. If you hard connect them with ethernet the way the OP did, they scale very well. You should be able to do quite a bit more. But the protocol they use is hard on wifi. And all those short status packets burn up WiFi airtime as well.

If you have more than a handful, best to connect them by ethernet. the $15 power supply/ethernet adapter works quite well. And works on normal video chromecasts too.

thx
mike
That is simply not true. My 15 Chromecasts are all hard-wired, and there are tons of software problems all the time.
Well documented in my many posts in the main CCA thread.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/39-net...l#post55590868

And I'm not alone.

This was posted just today :
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/39-net...l#post55938344

I wonder what gods the OP in this thread summoned to make things work so reliably that he never mentioned a single problem. Color me extremely skeptical. And good luck with the system when Google inevitably pushes another forced update that breaks things, and there is not a thing you can do about it to roll back. Google has the worst customer support of any company I have ever dealt with, by far. They should never be selling hardware directly to consumers. For what it's worth, Samsung's is terrible also.
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This is very interesting read. I wouldn't have thought to attempt this many zones with Chromecast devices. It sure makes sense economically vs Sonos or Heos. However, I do believe Sonos and Heos (links and amps) are both worth the premium pricetag for me. Of course, I only have 10 zones served by 2 Heos Amps and 4 Heos Links (multi-room AVRs/AVPs).
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post #14 of 70 Old 03-28-2018, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by snidely View Post
Obviously, an ethernet (hardwired) set up as best in any situation like this. However, many of us live in homes where stringing such wire is impossible. So what we did, was use a mesh system. There are several out there, but we use the Google one. We only have 4 CCA units, and three Google home mini units (to use on the balconies) and one Google home device that's used as a speaker and for other Google activities in the kitchen. The Google home is often use to give music commands for the two groups that we formed.
Mesh wifi was hugely problematic for me, using Netgear Orbi with 2 satellites, and 14 CCA.
Things worked acceptably when turning off the satellites.
Bought a Linksys Velop, and exact same issue.
Maybe it works OK with Google's own mesh router, but I wouldn't advise my worst enemy to bother and use Wifi Mesh with CCA. Netgear and Linksys point back to Google for CCA issuers. And google won't support these mesh systems in their official list. Every vendor points to the other for problems.

As far as wiring, powerline AV1200 works pretty well.
I have a SBC device in the house that runs a program called Smokeping, which pings every device I have on my LAN and WLAN, and Powerline AV. That's over 50 of them (15 CCA).
I can see the packet loss and ping times for each 24 hours a day in 5 mins intervals.
Ping time on AV1200 is lower than Wifi AC, and packet loss is lower as well .

I invested in LAN interfaces for each of my (now 15) CCA. This did not resolve many problems which continue to exist with Android apps, inability to cast device audio to CCA on many devices (no current tablet on the market works!), if you want to use apps that are not native to Google cast, inexplicable bugs with audio not starting, inability to end casting session from the app (as mentioned by OP), in which case you also can't turn down the volume from the app too. The Google Home app is horribly designed. I have to scroll about 10 pages on my Note 8 to see all 15 + 3 groups of my CCA . They could easily be in a table of 15 lines that fits one screen. But no ! The UI changes constantly, for the worse. And the CCA devices always appear in random order. Good luck finding the device you want and/or group.

Not a happy CCA user here...
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Last edited by madbrain; 03-28-2018 at 07:55 PM.
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How is the power consumption on the Dayton MA1260 ?
Does the "auto" feature really work ?
Ie. if you are not using the system, does it automatically go to standby and consume a minimal amount ?

I am using cheaper options - used home theater receivers with 5.1 or 7.1 multi-channel inputs.
These don't have auto power on input mode, nor any trigger input (which wouldn't work with CCAs anyway).
Idle power consumption for each receiver was about 80W, and I have 6 of them. That would be 4204 kWh/year. Or about $1135/year in electricity at 27 cents/kWh marginal electrical rate here in CA.
To avoid this, I put the amps on Wemo switches to manually turn them on/off from my smartphone. That is an extra step to use, though, but since I am the only system user so far, it is OK.
On the plus side, Wemo switches can be also used to reboot the CCAs when they go berserk ... There is a scheduling feature too. Zero security on them, though, all plaintext ...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
How is the power consumption on the Dayton MA1260 ?
Does the "auto" feature really work ?
Ie. if you are not using the system, does it automatically go to standby and consume a minimal amount ?

I am using cheaper options - used home theater receivers with 5.1 or 7.1 multi-channel inputs.
These don't have auto power on input mode, nor any trigger input (which wouldn't work with CCAs anyway).
Idle power consumption for each receiver was about 80W, and I have 6 of them. That would be 4204 kWh/year. Or about $1135/year in electricity at 27 cents/kWh marginal electrical rate here in CA.
To avoid this, I put the amps on Wemo switches to manually turn them on/off from my smartphone. That is an extra step to use, though, but since I am the only system user so far, it is OK.
On the plus side, Wemo switches can be also used to reboot the CCAs when they go berserk ... There is a scheduling feature too. Zero security on them, though, all plaintext ...
That's really weird. I don't have a dozen+ chromecasts on my LAN at home, but all the ones I have work quite reliably. I do use a pfsense firewall and ubiquiti switching equipment which is hardly typical though.

Fhcraig probably has different equipment. Chromecast uses MDNS and a number of protocols that should work on most switching equipment, but not sure why folks are seeing these problems.

The Dayton's autosense is reported to work quite well, but most states do not screw over their populations with ridiculous energy rates like PGE has. Of course, this is a good reason to install more solar which is fortunately getting cheaper. But a lot of folks simply don't have the high energy cost we do in PGE land.

thx
mike
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post #17 of 70 Old 03-28-2018, 10:48 PM
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That's really weird. I don't have a dozen+ chromecasts on my LAN at home, but all the ones I have work quite reliably. I do use a pfsense firewall and ubiquiti switching equipment which is hardly typical though.
I use consumer stuff - a Netgear R7000 (with Wifi turned off) for the wired router/firewall part. And then Netgear Orbi with 2 satellites in AP mode for the Wifi AC.

Quote:
Fhcraig probably has different equipment. Chromecast uses MDNS and a number of protocols that should work on most switching equipment, but not sure why folks are seeing these problems.
Do you know what the specific requirements on switching equipment is ? I do have a lot of switches around the house, some of them are older gear.
I have two TEG-S16D (16-port gigabit switches). The two are in different rooms - 1 in my home theater downstairs with 6 CCAs on it, and the other in my office with a whole bunch of other stuff (and 1 CCA too). But the Netgear R7000 and long CAT6 cables sit in the middle of those two switches.

In the upstairs master bedroom (2nd major feed location), I have 8 CCAs - 7 on a much older 8-port TEG-S80TXE, and 1 on the TP-Link TL-PA8030P which has a built-in 3-port gigabit switch.
This connects back to the office through powerline and another TL-PA8030P downstairs. There are 2 more of those Powerline units in the house, one for electric meter & solar meter in my garage, another for a Canon Pro-100 printer with a terrible Wifi N implementation, that tends to connect to the farthest possible AP, which results in 1-hour print time per 13x19 page when used on wireless ... sigh. So it is switched to wired also. Wifi is so useless in general, pretty much only good for phones & tablets ...

BTW, Google searches for "Chromecast MDNS problems" seems to return things related to Wifi, and not wired switching issues ...

Quote:
The Dayton's autosense is reported to work quite well, but most states do not screw over their populations with ridiculous energy rates like PGE has. Of course, this is a good reason to install more solar which is fortunately getting cheaper. But a lot of folks simply don't have the high energy cost we do in PGE land.
Good to hear about the Dayton. I didn't consider this option, but I already had a bunch of used receivers - just bought more on craigslist, for about $100 a piece. That's $16/channel and hard to beat for a receiver with a 7.1 input. And might in theory do more channels per unit with 9.1 and 11.1 receivers by using zone 2 & 3, but those don't generally go for $100 Newer receivers can't be used as most don't have multi-channel analog inputs anymore.

I want to add more solar also. Already have a 9.4 kW system. But it would be at NEMS 2 rate which is not as advantageous. And also, I would need to pay many thousands to switch my main panel from 200A to 400A and get PG&E to run 400A service... I may still do it eventually since we have 2 EVs and a hot tub and the net energy bill is no longer zero. Hard to see how our usage could increase from here, though, unless maybe I replaced the secondary water heater and our clothes dryer with electric versions instead of gas. The primary water heater was replaced recently, and the 2 furnaces are on gas and should still be good for at least 15 years, so no real use for extra solar electric capacity.
I'm at the point where energy conservation measures have a much better R.O.I than expanding solar. It's not as convenient to get things to turn on & off, though. And just not possible for some hardwired devices. I dream of affordable breakers with built-in powerline remote control ... Maybe not in my lifetime. And still, plenty of those hardwired devices have clocks that would be screwed up. Not that I really care about the time display on my double oven and microwave, but I wish they didn't consume energy 24/7. Yes, I have actually measured this. And when displays are hot to the touch, you know something is using more energy than it should.
The old Trendnet 8-port metal chassis switch is hot to the touch also, whereas the newer 16-bit ones are cold, but in much bigger plastic chassis.

Last edited by madbrain; 03-28-2018 at 10:59 PM.
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post #18 of 70 Old 03-30-2018, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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That is simply not true. My 15 Chromecasts are all hard-wired, and there are tons of software problems all the time.
Well documented in my many posts in the main CCA thread.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/39-net...l#post55590868

And I'm not alone.

This was posted just today :
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/39-net...l#post55938344

I wonder what gods the OP in this thread summoned to make things work so reliably that he never mentioned a single problem. Color me extremely skeptical. And good luck with the system when Google inevitably pushes another forced update that breaks things, and there is not a thing you can do about it to roll back. Google has the worst customer support of any company I have ever dealt with, by far. They should never be selling hardware directly to consumers. For what it's worth, Samsung's is terrible also.

It's always interesting to see the "extremes" of opinion that show up on different topics (in a lot off ways it reminds me of TripAdvisor ). It's never been my intention to try to "sell" one solution or another. I also don't make claims that I can't substantiate from my direct personal experience. I have attempted to document my installation as simply and honestly as I can. FYI - for those of you that are following this specific system example, I'll post a second thread shortly with some screen shots showing how this all "looks" from the user interface including large numbers of zones and groups "playing well" with Google Home and Spotify.

I have hammered my configuration by doing a lot of "atypical" things just to see how stable it is. I did this during initial proof of concept testing and I've done it continuously since the full system has been up and running. I've deliberately jumped back and forth between streaming apps, passed casting control back and forth between devices, rapidly added / dropped / changed zones during playback, and in general tried to break the configuration. I'm "sorry" to report that I have yet to "lose" any devices from the Google Home config, freeze any devices, or cause any significant flaky behavior. As I documented in my original thread, I have seen some instances where the Spotify app fails to "keep up" and display the current song after I've passed its control back and forth a few times between the app on my phone and Google Home on a different device. I also don't like that I can't stop a casting session directly from Spotify, but that's why I have both Google Home and the Android notification icon available if needed (also depicted in the screen caps).

There may be some specific implementation related elements that have helped with the stability of my system. Or maybe as the OP implied I just live under a lucky star or special divine dispensation (although it sure seems to be missing when it comes to a whole lot of other things I do!).

- As documented, all my CCA's are connected using Google ethernet adapters. Almost all connect to a second network switch that uplinks to my main switch. I do tend to purchase fairly good quality network gear (learned from personal experience) but I'm definitely not going high end with anything. I also tend to rotate out equipment that is out of date or eol.

- I am currently using all Android devices to control the system. Asus ZenTabs, Samsung Galaxy phones, and of course Google Home devices (Mini's). I need to borrow and bring home some iOS devices so I can honestly evaluate and document how they interact with the system.

- All my equipment is always updated with the latest patches, firmware updates, etc.

- I test (and retest) everything as I go along to see if I have added anything that causes instability or complexity.

If anyone has thoughts / ideas / sugggestions of things that I can try to replicate from other systems that aren't as stable or well behaved, please let me know and I'll try to help identify what might be causing the differences.

Rick
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post #19 of 70 Old 03-30-2018, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
How is the power consumption on the Dayton MA1260 ?
Does the "auto" feature really work ?
Ie. if you are not using the system, does it automatically go to standby and consume a minimal amount ?

I am using cheaper options - used home theater receivers with 5.1 or 7.1 multi-channel inputs.
These don't have auto power on input mode, nor any trigger input (which wouldn't work with CCAs anyway).
Idle power consumption for each receiver was about 80W, and I have 6 of them. That would be 4204 kWh/year. Or about $1135/year in electricity at 27 cents/kWh marginal electrical rate here in CA.
To avoid this, I put the amps on Wemo switches to manually turn them on/off from my smartphone. That is an extra step to use, though, but since I am the only system user so far, it is OK.
On the plus side, Wemo switches can be also used to reboot the CCAs when they go berserk ... There is a scheduling feature too. Zero security on them, though, all plaintext ...
As Mike noted, the Daytons do in fact autosense cleanly! I'm running 3 of them and have been fairly obsessive with watching the zone LED's to make sure they power down. This works correctly whether I'm feeding a zone directly from its dedicated input or using one or more of the Dayton's bus inputs. It's also a Class D amp vs the Russound Class AB I replaced. I think the single Russound amp weighed as much as the 3 Dayton's combined. I'm not pushing this particular piece of gear but it delivered the features I needed at an attractive price.

I'm got several network switches scattered in the equipment racks in my wiring closet. All are relatively close so the uplink/downlink runs are pretty short.
- The dedicated switch that I added for all the CCA adapters is a TP-Link TL-SG1024S.
- My main network switch is a Linksys SRW224G4.
- I have 2 Ubiquiti 8-Port PoE ToughSwitches that drive my IP Cameras.
- I've got a little Netgear ProSafe switch in a 2nd rack that aggregates up all my Roku's and other network AV equipment.

My router is a TP-Link TL-R470T which is a dedicated router (not wi-fi). I run a totally separate Ubiquity UniFi wi-fi network with PoE AP's scattered around the house.

I hope this helps!

Rick
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post #20 of 70 Old 03-30-2018, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
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As promised I wanted to share a few screen shots of the "user interface" side of the system. This is really intended for folks that have been reading all the CCA threads but might not have actually seen them in action!

Pic 1 - This is the Spotify screen for selecting devices to cast to. A single Spotify session (1 user on 1 device) can only cast to a single "device". This might be just a single room (Zone) or it might be a Group of Zones that will play together. We typically start a lot of our music directly from Spotify (since we are so familiar with it and have it installed on all our phones) and play to whatever room we are in (if we aren't yelling at Google to do it!). If we move to a different room then we just bring up this cast list, select the new Zone to cast to, and Spotify stops playing in the previous room and starts playing in the new room. Spotify works directly with the volume control on the phone/tablet when casting, so you don't have to keep opening the actual app to adjust the volume.

Pic 2 - This is the Android notification pop-up. It shows both the current Spotify session as well as the current casting session. This is the easiest place for me to go if I manage to "confuse" Spotify and it won't release the current casting zone to let me play a different casting app.

Pic 3 - This is the Google Home app status screen. If there are multiple casting sessions in progress (different people playing different streaming sources in different Zones), then they just "stack up" on this screen. If you tap on a casting session it pulls up the volume control. As we will see next, that is super handy for Groups of Zones that are playing together.

Pic 4 - This is the Google Home app "volume control" for my "play everywhere" Group (it scrolls off the bottom of the screen). Whether playing 2 Zones (rooms) together or the whole house, it is an easy way to adjust the overall volume balance from room to room. The main casting device (phone/tablet/Google Mini) will adjust the volume of the whole Group using the normal volume up/down controls, but it doesn't allow adjusting volume in individual Zones within a Group. That requires opening the Google Home app.

Pic 5 - This is the Google Home app screen for creating custom Groups from individual Zones. As I noted in the original post, one of the main "selling points" for me with CCA's is that I can put any devices (Zones) into as many different Groups as I want. This feature works very cleanly.

Rick
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Originally Posted by fhcraig View Post
It's always interesting to see the "extremes" of opinion that show up on different topics (in a lot off ways it reminds me of TripAdvisor ). It's never been my intention to try to "sell" one solution or another. I also don't make claims that I can't substantiate from my direct personal experience. I have attempted to document my installation as simply and honestly as I can. FYI - for those of you that are following this specific system example, I'll post a second thread shortly with some screen shots showing how this all "looks" from the user interface including large numbers of zones and groups "playing well" with Google Home and Spotify.

I have hammered my configuration by doing a lot of "atypical" things just to see how stable it is. I did this during initial proof of concept testing and I've done it continuously since the full system has been up and running. I've deliberately jumped back and forth between streaming apps, passed casting control back and forth between devices, rapidly added / dropped / changed zones during playback, and in general tried to break the configuration. I'm "sorry" to report that I have yet to "lose" any devices from the Google Home config, freeze any devices, or cause any significant flaky behavior. As I documented in my original thread, I have seen some instances where the Spotify app fails to "keep up" and display the current song after I've passed its control back and forth a few times between the app on my phone and Google Home on a different device. I also don't like that I can't stop a casting session directly from Spotify, but that's why I have both Google Home and the Android notification icon available if needed (also depicted in the screen caps).

There may be some specific implementation related elements that have helped with the stability of my system. Or maybe as the OP implied I just live under a lucky star or special divine dispensation (although it sure seems to be missing when it comes to a whole lot of other things I do!).

- As documented, all my CCA's are connected using Google ethernet adapters. Almost all connect to a second network switch that uplinks to my main switch. I do tend to purchase fairly good quality network gear (learned from personal experience) but I'm definitely not going high end with anything. I also tend to rotate out equipment that is out of date or eol.

- I am currently using all Android devices to control the system. Asus ZenTabs, Samsung Galaxy phones, and of course Google Home devices (Mini's). I need to borrow and bring home some iOS devices so I can honestly evaluate and document how they interact with the system.

- All my equipment is always updated with the latest patches, firmware updates, etc.

- I test (and retest) everything as I go along to see if I have added anything that causes instability or complexity.

If anyone has thoughts / ideas / sugggestions of things that I can try to replicate from other systems that aren't as stable or well behaved, please let me know and I'll try to help identify what might be causing the differences.

Rick
Don't get me wrong - I'm very happy for you that it works. I was only correcting MikeSM when he said the problems only affect CCAs - that just hasn't been my experience, and some others haven't been as lucky as you either, even with wired CCA.

Have you tried device audio casting at all ? From google home app, go to menu, then "cast screen/audio", then select a CCA.
I'm particularly interested in finding out whether this works on your Asus Zenpad . I have been looking for a current model of Android tablet that can do this - to no avail.
One of my usage cases is to cast the audio of the Dish anywhere app, to play recorded programs from my DVR. I don't mind the delay between audio and video. The Dish anywhere app is not cast-enabled, so device audio casting is the only way to play audio from it on CCA.
It works fine from my Galaxy Note 8, but the display is just too small . It does not work on the current models of Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 or Tab S3, which I purchased and returned, after Samsung said they don't support Google home.
Some have gotten older models of tablets to work with this feature. But the Dish app requires at least Android 5.4 according to Dish. The intersection of a tablet where device audio casting works and Dish anywhere app can be run appears to be null so far.
If it works on recent Asus Zenpad, I would consider buying one. Though would prefer the 10" version than 8". But I would try both.

Also, have you tried the Tidal Android app at all ? There is a 30-day free trial. This is a cast-enabled app. I have all kinds of problem with it trying to start a track, and switch to another zone. It also frequently loses the ability to pause and switch volume in the app. Sometimes it ends up starting 2 streams - on two different CCAs in adjacent rooms - when I try to switch zone. Sometimes it just doesn't play until I hit "previous track" or "next track". Tough if you want to listen to a whole classical works and don't want to miss the first track.
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post #22 of 70 Old 04-03-2018, 06:26 AM
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fhcraig,

Did you need a preamp for the CCAs? I have read that some Amplifiers need a preamp to run CCA properly.
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Originally Posted by Garet Jax View Post
fhcraig,

Did you need a preamp for the CCAs? I have read that some Amplifiers need a preamp to run CCA properly.
With the multi-channel amps that I have worked with (Russound & Dayton - but they are pretty basic, typical amps) no preamp is necessary! The CCA drive the standard RCA inputs just fine. Output levels are almost too loud and I end up dialing back on input sensitivity on a lot of zones. Others can comment on whether there are other amps that might have direct compatibility issues with the CCA's?

Rick
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Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
Don't get me wrong - I'm very happy for you that it works. I was only correcting MikeSM when he said the problems only affect CCAs - that just hasn't been my experience, and some others haven't been as lucky as you either, even with wired CCA.

Have you tried device audio casting at all ? From google home app, go to menu, then "cast screen/audio", then select a CCA.
I'm particularly interested in finding out whether this works on your Asus Zenpad . I have been looking for a current model of Android tablet that can do this - to no avail.
One of my usage cases is to cast the audio of the Dish anywhere app, to play recorded programs from my DVR. I don't mind the delay between audio and video. The Dish anywhere app is not cast-enabled, so device audio casting is the only way to play audio from it on CCA.
It works fine from my Galaxy Note 8, but the display is just too small . It does not work on the current models of Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 or Tab S3, which I purchased and returned, after Samsung said they don't support Google home.
Some have gotten older models of tablets to work with this feature. But the Dish app requires at least Android 5.4 according to Dish. The intersection of a tablet where device audio casting works and Dish anywhere app can be run appears to be null so far.
If it works on recent Asus Zenpad, I would consider buying one. Though would prefer the 10" version than 8". But I would try both.

Also, have you tried the Tidal Android app at all ? There is a 30-day free trial. This is a cast-enabled app. I have all kinds of problem with it trying to start a track, and switch to another zone. It also frequently loses the ability to pause and switch volume in the app. Sometimes it ends up starting 2 streams - on two different CCAs in adjacent rooms - when I try to switch zone. Sometimes it just doesn't play until I hit "previous track" or "next track". Tough if you want to listen to a whole classical works and don't want to miss the first track.
No problem! Part of the maddening frustration of emerging tech is that somethings the same thing doesn't work the same way for different people! Heck sometimes it doesn't work the same way twice for me

A couple of quick responses to your "test" questions ...

- Yes I am able to directly device cast to the CCA's from the Asus ZenPad (and also from my Android phone)! I've used Google Home "cast screen/audio" to start the casting session. I'm doing that as we speak using the DirecTV Now app. There is minimal (but noticeable) lag between the video / audio, but it does cast the audio successfully to the CCA's. I've got a pretty new ZenPad 8 running Android 7.0. Unfortunately I don't have any other Android versions I could test or the larger 10" Asus unit (though I can't imagine it would work differently?). I was going to grab a screen cap but DirectTV blocks it! I also cast directly out of some web sites that were not natively cast enabled. I don't have a Dish account to test that app. Are there other direct cast sources that you've seen/heard to be problematic?

- I've played around a little with the Tidal app on a trial account. Granted I have only spent a little time on the app, but I am seeing some glitchy behavior when casting! I've tried my usual "test suite" consisting of aggressively switching zones/groups back and forth, pausing/skipping/replaying tracks, switching source material back and forth, etc. Occasionally when I switch CCA zones the app completely restarts. Sometimes when I start a new zone it starts muted. I've also seen some instances when switching zones where the app doesn't seem to make the streaming "connection" to the new zone. I was also able to hang it up when I tried to play music video tracks over the CCA's (possibly because they are audio only devices?). The app does appear to be "casting" friendly and all the CCA device interface/selection screens work well. I had periods where everything appeared to be working smoothly and then something would hang. There almost appeared to be some sensitivity to specific tracks on Playlists, but I'm not nearly smart enough to troubleshoot that. Sorry I couldn't bring better news on this one ...

Let me know if there are any other "experiments" that might be useful!

Rick
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Rick,

Quote:
Originally Posted by fhcraig View Post
No problem! Part of the maddening frustration of emerging tech is that somethings the same thing doesn't work the same way for different people! Heck sometimes it doesn't work the same way twice for me

A couple of quick responses to your "test" questions ...

- Yes I am able to directly device cast to the CCA's from the Asus ZenPad (and also from my Android phone)! I've used Google Home "cast screen/audio" to start the casting session. I'm doing that as we speak using the DirecTV Now app. There is minimal (but noticeable) lag between the video / audio, but it does cast the audio successfully to the CCA's. I've got a pretty new ZenPad 8 running Android 7.0. Unfortunately I don't have any other Android versions I could test or the larger 10" Asus unit (though I can't imagine it would work differently?). I was going to grab a screen cap but DirectTV blocks it! I also cast directly out of some web sites that were not natively cast enabled. I don't have a Dish account to test that app. Are there other direct cast sources that you've seen/heard to be problematic?

- I've played around a little with the Tidal app on a trial account. Granted I have only spent a little time on the app, but I am seeing some glitchy behavior when casting! I've tried my usual "test suite" consisting of aggressively switching zones/groups back and forth, pausing/skipping/replaying tracks, switching source material back and forth, etc. Occasionally when I switch CCA zones the app completely restarts. Sometimes when I start a new zone it starts muted. I've also seen some instances when switching zones where the app doesn't seem to make the streaming "connection" to the new zone. I was also able to hang it up when I tried to play music video tracks over the CCA's (possibly because they are audio only devices?). The app does appear to be "casting" friendly and all the CCA device interface/selection screens work well. I had periods where everything appeared to be working smoothly and then something would hang. There almost appeared to be some sensitivity to specific tracks on Playlists, but I'm not nearly smart enough to troubleshoot that. Sorry I couldn't bring better news on this one ...

Let me know if there are any other "experiments" that might be useful!

Rick
Thanks for doing this testing !

I just ordered a Zenpad 10.1, model Z301MF-A2-GR from Amazon. Should be here tomorrow. I hope it works as well for me as it does for you !
Which model of Zenpad do you have exactly ?

Re: device audio casting, when I tried on Samsung tablets (Tab 10.1 and Tab S3), it would just disconnect from the CCA a few seconds after selecting "cast screen/audio" and the CCA in google home. Or not connect to CCA at all.
This happened before I even got a chance to launch the Dish Anywhere app usually.

I guess with Tidal, the problem is the app, then. Too bad.

I had problems with JRiver also. Gizmo had many issues, but I figured maybe the commercial version (JRemote) would be fixed. It ended up being much worse and crashing all over the place, so much so that I requested a refund for JRemote within 2 hours of purchasing it on Google play. That was clearly an app issue in this case.
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i got a simple question. how do you manage multiple streams of spotify or pandora? my nuvo music port allows me to have 4 individual streams of music on my premium account and doesn't sonos allow multiple streams with a premium account? i'm not sure. do you have to pay for multiple premium accounts? but then you have to use diff devices for each account cause u can only have 1 account linked?

i was just wondering. . . with cromecast in ur home do you even need a premium account?

thanks,
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Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
Rick,



Thanks for doing this testing !

I just ordered a Zenpad 10.1, model Z301MF-A2-GR from Amazon. Should be here tomorrow. I hope it works as well for me as it does for you !
Which model of Zenpad do you have exactly ?

Re: device audio casting, when I tried on Samsung tablets (Tab 10.1 and Tab S3), it would just disconnect from the CCA a few seconds after selecting "cast screen/audio" and the CCA in google home. Or not connect to CCA at all.
This happened before I even got a chance to launch the Dish Anywhere app usually.

I guess with Tidal, the problem is the app, then. Too bad.

I had problems with JRiver also. Gizmo had many issues, but I figured maybe the commercial version (JRemote) would be fixed. It ended up being much worse and crashing all over the place, so much so that I requested a refund for JRemote within 2 hours of purchasing it on Google play. That was clearly an app issue in this case.
I've got my fingers crossed for your ZenPad! I have 3 of the lower end 16GB ZenPad 8's (model # Z380M) that I got on Amazon.

I have definitely not had any problems with Google Home on either the ZenPads or my Samsung Galaxy phones! It has been very solid and responsive. Typically I'm not diving into it first since I do a lot of audio casting directly out of the apps. When I have played around with it for either screen casting or playing source material direct to the CCA's it has been bullet proof.

That is a shame about some of the streaming apps not "playing well". Wow I hadn't seen a mention of J River in a bunch of years It was one of the front end apps I played around with over the years in my "wandering" around of A-V systems and solutions!

Rick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fhcraig View Post
With the multi-channel amps that I have worked with (Russound & Dayton - but they are pretty basic, typical amps) no preamp is necessary! The CCA drive the standard RCA inputs just fine. Output levels are almost too loud and I end up dialing back on input sensitivity on a lot of zones. Others can comment on whether there are other amps that might have direct compatibility issues with the CCA's?

Rick
Same experience here - volume from CCA is quite loud once it is configured in AVR mode.
I use receivers with multi-channel inputs which technically are preamps + amps. But due to using 5.1/7.1 input, I can't set the hardware volume per-zone, only per group of zones (2 or 3).
Right now, I have the master volume set to 0 dB on all receivers, but I then usually end up setting the volume between 10 and 20% only in Google home for each zone, almost never more than that. This can vary based on content, though.
It probably would make sense for me to dial the master volume lower on my receivers.
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Originally Posted by fhcraig View Post
I've got my fingers crossed for your ZenPad! I have 3 of the lower end 16GB ZenPad 8's (model # Z380M) that I got on Amazon.

I have definitely not had any problems with Google Home on either the ZenPads or my Samsung Galaxy phones! It has been very solid and responsive. Typically I'm not diving into it first since I do a lot of audio casting directly out of the apps. When I have played around with it for either screen casting or playing source material direct to the CCA's it has been bullet proof.
Yes, my Samsung Note 8 works OK with Dish anywhere app and casting device audio to CCA in google home. The current Samsung tablets don't work, and Samsung support they don't support the casting feature on them.

Quote:
That is a shame about some of the streaming apps not "playing well". Wow I hadn't seen a mention of J River in a bunch of years It was one of the front end apps I played around with over the years in my "wandering" around of A-V systems and solutions!
Yeah. I use JRiver for my music collection at home. I think there are some other solutions for streaming it to the CCA (bubbleUPNP server & app) that I have not fully experimented with yet.

Also, the Chrome browser on all 7 of my PC fails to cast screen audio to any CCA .
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fhcraig View Post
I have definitely not had any problems with Google Home on either the ZenPads or my Samsung Galaxy phones! It has been very solid and responsive. Typically I'm not diving into it first since I do a lot of audio casting directly out of the apps. When I have played around with it for either screen casting or playing source material direct to the CCA's it has been bullet proof.
I received my new Asus ZenPad 10 Z301MF about an hour ago. Just finished with all OS updates and my initial testing.

Good news : was able to do audio casting to CCA just fine with the Google Home app. And the Dish Anywhere app works on it, too. Same time delay as I get on my phone, seems to be 1-2s, not too bad . This is mostly to listen to recordings of TV comedy programs when I cook or do chores, at which point I'm not looking at the screen most of the time. Sometimes I glance a bit.

The screen is a bit dim even at the highest brightness, but I guess that's because it's IPS. The 1920x1200 resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio is pretty good for video - I can watch a program and still have the Android home/back buttons at the bottom due to the extra lines .

Good to see it has a USB type C connector like all our 2 phones - no need to carry micro USB cables anymore . No QuickCharge as it uses a MediaTek chipset. It came about 60% charged and I haven't charge dit yet.

Wifi is only 802.11n and not AC, but still supports the 5 GHz band. That part is a bit disappointing, but it was in the specs. I just tested it near my hot tub (on top of the closed cover) and it still got 3-4 bars of Wifi and 135 Mbps link rate. It was able to stream HD from Dish anywhere and send the sound to the CCA from there. Might be a slightly different story once it's in the waterproof case. Hope it will still be good. Even Wifi AC phones will lose Wifi when inside a case, and completely submerged underwater. That's not a common use case, though

The cameras are the worst I have seen in any device in a very long time. Especially the horrible front camera that not only maxes at 1600x1200 for stills, and 640x480 for video, but also has a horrible amount of noise, rendering most of those pixels useless. Might as well not have a front camera at all. The rear camera may be 5MP, but probably compares to my 2008 T-mobile G1's 3MP camera. Really not a device you want to use for shooting any stills or video. I have used my old iPad 2 for Skype calls before and the cameras were much better on it, and that was a very old device already. I gave that iPad 2 to my mom last Xmas.

Thanks for doing the testing and pointing me in the direction of the ZenPad ! I was really getting desperate that this was ever going to be solved with the poor Samsung tablet support & Google Home support situation. I hope this tablet will last. It's a little pricey for what it is. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 at Costco had a comparable price tag, and was comparably better in terms of display, Wifi and especially cameras. Just couldn't handle Google home casting, which is why it went back, along with the Tab S3.
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