AVS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 887 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Since the standard Chromecast and Chromecast Audio have different enough purposes, I thought it might be helpful to give the Chromecast Audio its own thread.

My Chromecast Audio units arrived yesterday, and I've been having a lot of fun playing with them. I purchased 2 to start, but I'm quickly realizing that I would like to add one to each stereo around the house. My experience with them is limited, and unfortunately I don't have an measuring equipment to give you raw data, but so far I'm pretty impressed. Here's what I've learned so far.

-The form factor is awesome! With its diminutive size, you could slap these things in any nook and cranny. Seriously. You can put these things pretty much anywhere. If you're talking multi-zone functionality, this could be really nice if space is an issue. Also, compare the heat output of having something like 6 Sonos Connects (which is actually put out quite a bit of heat even when not in use) vs 6 of these. Size and heat wise, there's no comparison.

-Optical out is a go! It's easy to use with S/PDIF digital optical using a simple converter. I'm using these: http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=2671 At, $0.89 a piece, there's no excuse NOT to if you have an optical input and a spare cable. You can also buy a mini-toslink to toslink cable for dirt cheap, too. I did a side by side comparison of the sound quality using the standard 3.5mm jack versus the optical, and as anybody could have predicted, I perceive less noise and the volume is much better on the receiver end using the optical cable.

-Unbelievably easy and quick to setup. I was expecting the setup to be at least a LITTLE bit more involved. Nope. It took me MAYBE around a minute each to get them connected to my wifi, set up, and updated.

-Usability doesn't get much easier than this. My technologically impaired wife had zero problem getting her tunes to play in our livingroom, and we're both enjoying "Casting" our audio streams to the stereo of our choice, at this time, simply labeled "Living Room" and "Basement." More to come for sure.

-Sound quality is actually better than I was expecting. According to one review I read, as well as Google Support (https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/6279377?hl=en), Chromecast Audio supports 24-bit/96kHz audio. VERY nice!!!

-The included USB power cable was much longer than I was expecting, at a healthy 6 feet. I had no problem placing it anywhere I wanted to. I just stuck one behind one of my TVs for now, and the other is just sitting next my old receiver.

-Wifi connection is superb. I have a pretty good size house. One of the units is in the far reach of the basement, is on the opposite side of the house from the router, and the wifi signal there is not great. I've had no dropouts or lack of sound quality. I remember reading that Google was apparently pretty proud of their wifi technology in both of their new Chromecasts. I'd say they were right. It really is very good.

Now, one of my biggest questions was how would it compare to the excellent Sonos Connect? I've been wanting to implement a 6 Zone WHA system at my house, and have been looking into every option out there. At $35 versus $350, I have no reason to complain, BUT I will at least give my thoughts. As of today, there is no room grouping, but Google says they will be releasing an update this Fall that will address that. That is my biggest issue with it at the moment. Also, where I will admit that Sonos is better is the App in which you can login to your various streaming accounts directly within the app, keeping you from having to use multiple apps. It's definitely simpler in that regard, but then again I must remind myself...Thirty...Five...dollars. On the flip side however, to be able to stream audio from just about anything using certain apps is also pretty cool! This opens up a LOT of flexibility, especially with the use of something like Plex, which I still need to try and use in conjunction with the Chromecast before commenting further on that. One of the things I'm seeing it be BETTER than Sonos on is when it comes to multiple users. With Sonos, I've experienced serious control issues when trying to go from one phone or tablet to another. I'm pleasantly surprised in that I've found the Chromecast Audio to actually function better and more seamlessly on that front, but then again, perhaps those issues aren't that widespread and more just anecdotal.

Here's hoping that Google will remain solid with the support and updates going forward. So far, they have a serious contender on their hands. For the price differential, everybody else had better be on their toes! I'm hoping that this will help spur on some more innovation from the competition, which is long overdue for some. I'll make sure and keep commenting on my experiences as time goes forward. So far, so good! Heck of a great device at just about any price, let alone $35!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Well, woohoo! Right now, I'm playing 24/96 FLAC files (downloaded from HDTracks) like a champ on this thing from my local network via Plex. Looking more and more like I'm gonna have to part ways with Sonos. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
175 Posts
Thanks for the review.

Can you post some screenshots of the app UI for music selection and playback. Does it discover wpl playlists? Also is there a way to point at a folder and play all the tracks in that folder?

I tried to see the compatible files formats, but could not find much info.

I presume it works with other UPNP software like twonky.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
I got mine this morning and got to play with it about two hours before I had to come to work. I am ADHD when it comes to selecting one product line for entertainment. I have a Windows machine, Google accounts, Apple iOS devices, Plex, Rokus, and AirPlay devices. So I've always been looking for a devices that's friendly to all of them.

Here's a couple observations:

1. Setup easy. However, my AirPort express required a firmware rollback to work. Luckily, I found this out on the Google product info page before I pulled my hair out. Reception great.

2. From my iPhone, quickly installed the Chromecast app. Found my device right away. Streams google music like a champ, super fast and great quality. Again, you can

3. Unable to stream local music from my iPhone to the Chromecast. I was surprised by this, because I thought it could do that.

4. Plex streams wonderfully via iOS or from the Windows interface. Streamed a 24/96 file instantly. I'm assuming this wasn't transcoded down, so now I'm excited to acquire some more high res files and see if I can tell a difference. (I was using the optical out on the device into my AVR).

5. Youtube did not offer casting to me, which is strange, because I thought I saw a guy on the internet cast with his Android phone. I know they really don't want Youtube casting because of sync issues between Audio & Video. I get that.

6. Spotify: Weird. Spotify program for Windows doesn't offer casting. Spotify for iPhone works, but ONLY if you have a premium account, which I don't. Thankfully, the Spotify extension in Chrome casts just fine.

7. Subsonic: A program to I use to stream all my music to anywhere. Works great in Chrome, but my iOS app doesn't support it. Hunting now for an app that might. This would really be killer if I could just stream my local collections around the house from my phone. I didn't get a chance to test streaming high res FLAC.

8. SiriusXM: No casting from iOS, but casting from a Chrome tab works great.

9. Pandora streams great from iOS and Chrome.

So in quick conclusion, I suspect that more and more apps will offer Chromecast support as they come out, but will Apple? Highly doubt it, as they don't want anything competing with AirPlay. Otherwise, they'd be encouraging you to buy a $35 Google product over their $99 AppleTv.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,593 Posts
How does the DAC in the chromecast audio compare to the DAC in an older (2012 DENON)? Should one go optically to the denon or rely on the built in DAC which (being more modern) could be better?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
How does the DAC in the chromecast audio compare to the DAC in an older (2012 DENON)? Should one go optically to the denon or rely on the built in DAC which (being more modern) could be better?
I'm not sure about an internal DAC, but after trying both connection options side by side, I can say with confidence that you should be better off going with the optical cable if you have that available.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,593 Posts
I'm not sure about an internal DAC, but after trying both connection options side by side, I can say with confidence that you should be better off going with the optical cable if you have that available.
Did you enable the "high dynamic range" option on the analog out?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
871 Posts
I have wanting a Sonos or a blue sound , but I might have to try this out , would a external dac sound better or just use the dac in my marantz 7008?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I have wanting a Sonos or a blue sound , but I might have to try this out , would a external dac sound better or just use the dac in my marantz 7008?
I have yet to test it with an external DAC, but since it can output at 24-bit/96KHZ, I doubt that at least I would be able to discern any audible difference. Thus, I'd suggest just using the interal DAC in your Marantz.

At 1/10th the price of a Sonos Connect, definitely try out the Chromecast Audio first. I have lots of first hand experience with both, and I've moved on from Sonos altogether. I just can't justify the price any more now that this has come out. The biggest difference is the interface. Sonos works really well, but is it worth paying 10x as much to have one app handle it all? For me, it was not. I'm actually starting to even prefer the added flexibility of being able to use whatever app I want to. Once Google comes out with the update to group units, then it's game over for the Sonos Connect once the word really gets out about these handy little CC Audios.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,118 Posts
I like using the analog out for two reasons

1) I can overlay music from it with video from my htpc. Good for playing music before a football game

2) Being an analog source means I can use it at zone 2. I can "cast" music from Plex to my htpc, but thats a digital source.

I will be interested in getting a second one for the living room and a third for the patio/dining room once they update their software.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
871 Posts
I have yet to test it with an external DAC, but since it can output at 24-bit/96KHZ, I doubt that at least I would be able to discern any audible difference. Thus, I'd suggest just using the interal DAC in your Marantz.

At 1/10th the price of a Sonos Connect, definitely try out the Chromecast Audio first. I have lots of first hand experience with both, and I've moved on from Sonos altogether. I just can't justify the price any more now that this has come out. The biggest difference is the interface. Sonos works really well, but is it worth paying 10x as much to have one app handle it all? For me, it was not. I'm actually starting to even prefer the added flexibility of being able to use whatever app I want to. Once Google comes out with the update to group units, then it's game over for the Sonos Connect once the word really gets out about these handy little CC Audios.[/ so with a chromcast will you be using the native app from the phone ,or is it a dumbed down version , like Spotify is in Roku, Sonos????? How is the app on Sonos better??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
871 Posts
I have yet to test it with an external DAC, but since it can output at 24-bit/96KHZ, I doubt that at least I would be able to discern any audible difference. Thus, I'd suggest just using the interal DAC in your Marantz.

At 1/10th the price of a Sonos Connect, definitely try out the Chromecast Audio first. I have lots of first hand experience with both, and I've moved on from Sonos altogether. I just can't justify the price any more now that this has come out. The biggest difference is the interface. Sonos works really well, but is it worth paying 10x as much to have one app handle it all? For me, it was not. I'm actually starting to even prefer the added flexibility of being able to use whatever app I want to. Once Google comes out with the update to group units, then it's game over for the Sonos Connect once the word really gets out about these handy little CC Audios.[/ so with a chromcast will you be using the native app from the phone ,or is it a dumbed down version , like Spotify is in Roku, Sonos????? How is the app on Sonos better??
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
so with a chromcast will you be using the native app from the phone ,or is it a dumbed down version , like Spotify is in Roku, Sonos????? How is the app on Sonos better??
No dumbed down versions. Just the native apps. Lots of them have already incorporated Chromecast support, which is basically the addition of a "Cast" button within the app. I wouldn't say the Sonos app is "better" per se, but many people do understandably like having one simple interface to be able to control all of their preferred streaming services. That is nice. However, like you say, it can be dumbed down essentially. Using native apps definitely can give you superior control over your streaming. There's a case to be made for both. I can see why the masses like Sonos for sure. Like many here though, I'm the oddball that doesn't mind things a tad more complex if it means more bang for the buck. And by "more complex," I simply mean having to use different apps for the different streaming services. Not hard for the majority of us, but hard enough for the types of people who can't figure out how to do anything remotely technical. Haha.

There's another really nice feature I've played with a bit: Guest mode. You can let your guests share their tunes on your stereo WITHOUT having to give them access to your wifi. While usually we don't have a problem sharing our wifi, sometimes we may not want to...especially at a party. Either way, this is a way easier to share access to your Chromecast Audio without having to worry about sharing a convoluted password, or compromising your security at all. https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/6279388?hl=en
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Does anyone know anything about this DAC (AKM AK4430 192kHz 24-Bit Stereo DAC) in the Chromecast Audio?
I'm not too familiar with the world of DACs so I'm unaware of AKM as a manufacturer on the whole.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Does anyone know anything about this DAC (AKM AK4430 192kHz 24-Bit Stereo DAC) in the Chromecast Audio?
I'm not too familiar with the world of DACs so I'm unaware of AKM as a manufacturer on the whole.
Here is everything you'd ever want to know about that chip. Happy reading!
http://www.akm.com/akm/en/file/datasheet/AK4430ET.pdf

This was also a fun read: The teardowns of both Chromecast versions. The Audio is remarkably similar internally, but minus the HDMI and plus the addition of the DAC.
https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Chromecast+2015+Teardown/50189
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,988 Posts
Picked on up today and started fiddling with it. Analog sound quality is quite good (use high dynamic range setting). Hooked up to an amp in my Garage, it about blew me out starting with volume at 100%! The audio out is powerful enough to drive a pair of headphones with no additional amp.

Bubble UPNP on my android tablet works OK, but it seems a little buggy. Very long pause between hitting the play button and getting audio. Also a long pause when hitting 'next track' button. I'll have to look around for other control options. Volume seems to always start at 100%... that is annoying. It would be nice to have a setting on the Chromecast itself for initial volume level. Also for some reason I kept having 'browser errors' when trying to browse my Serviio music server, might just be my tablet or the app.

I tried the Chromecast app's 'audio mirror' function, which routes all tablet audio to the Chromecast. That resulted in a muted sound, maybe just a lower volume but I don't think it is an optimal way to use it for now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,777 Posts
Thoughts on turning this into a poor-man's Sonos setup? Could you pick up a handful of these, along with some powered speakers, and stick them in different rooms around the house?

I think the styling of the Sonos speakers is pretty good. What options would you suggest for powered speakers that would work well in a system like this?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,988 Posts
Thoughts on turning this into a poor-man's Sonos setup? Could you pick up a handful of these, along with some powered speakers, and stick them in different rooms around the house?

I think the styling of the Sonos speakers is pretty good. What options would you suggest for powered speakers that would work well in a system like this?
Grab any decent bookshelf speakers and a Lepai 2020 amp and you are off to the races....cheaply. Of course, as was mentioned, you will not have syncing for multiple rooms. Google is working on that and I wouldn't hold my breath.
 
1 - 20 of 887 Posts
Top