Question Chromecast Audio Quality?

Zeeman92

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Nov 9, 2014
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I have a Chromecast Audio which is capable of 96KHz/24bit, I have this plugged in to my CA DacMagic Plus, however, my DAC always says the sample rate is 44.1KHz. I use the Amazon HD app via my android phone and have in the past used Tidal. From what I understand, the reason for the lower sample rate is that it's determined by the app which disregards the intended quality to be played from Amazon or Tidal.

I don't want to get rid of the Chromecast, but I do want better quality, is there a way round this? If not, would it be worth me looking at something like a Wiim Pro or a Raspberry Pi option as a streamer?
 
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RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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Amazon HD will cast only at basic rate to the CCA. even if you subscribe to the higher tier. Tidal will cast at up to 24bit 96khz.

The WiiM Pro is Amazon HD compatible as well as Tidal, Quobuz etc.

Sound quality directly through the CCA is nowhere near as bad as some make it out, better than BT AptX or any of its iterations but you can improve on it by using a (very) good outboard DAC or one built in to an amplifier. This will be the same with the WiiM Pro.

The great thing about the CCA is that you can use native apps. Different platforms are rarely as good or extensive as the native ones, Roon being the exception. (The CCA is a Roon endpoint).

The Chromecast doesn't do gapless, so if you need that you will have to change. Same with Amazon HD.

For what it's worth, I think the WiiM Pro seems to offer a lot for the money including Chromecast. It would certainly be my choice over any Rasberry configuration. Why bother? It would be the streamer of my choice at or anywhere near the cost. The only issue is that is much bigger than a CCA and is another box to hide.
 
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Zeeman92

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Nov 9, 2014
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Amazon HD will cast only at basic rate to the CCA. even if you subscribe to the higher tier. Tidal will cast at up to 24bit 96khz.

The WiiM Pro is Amazon HD compatible as well as Tidal, Quobuz etc.

Sound quality directly through the CCA is nowhere near as bad as some make it out, better than BT AptX or any of its iterations but you can improve on it by using a (very) good outboard DAC or one built in to an amplifier. This will be the same with the WiiM Pro.

The great thing about the CCA is that you can use native apps. Different platforms are rarely as good or extensive as the native ones, Roon being the exception. (The CCA is a Roon endpoint).

The Chromecast doesn't do gapless, so if you need that you will have to change. Same with Amazon HD.

For what it's worth, I think the WiiM Pro seems to offer a lot for the money including Chromecast. It would certainly be my choice over any Rasberry configuration. Why bother? It would be the streamer of my choice at or anywhere near the cost. The only issue is that is much bigger than a CCA and is another box to hide.
Thanks for your response, is that recent with Tidal? When I've used it before, it would always still sample 44.1KHz. Is the Wiim Pro likely to "dig" more detail than my CCA configuration if also hooked up to my existing DacMagic Plus, or will it likely be the same, whilst having added functionality+ gapless? I've recently upgraded to a Roksan Kandy K3, it has more grunt and is dynamically better with a forward tonality rather than a sometimes clincial presentation like my old audiolab pre/power combo. However, whilst it does allow me to hear further in to the recording, it doesn't fetch quite as much detail as I would have liked.

I wondered if the Chromecast was holding me back, or whether it's the DAC, or even possibly that I need to spend more on a different amp or change the speakers.
 

daveh75

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Most people can't discern between low bit rate, lossy formats and 16/44.1, let alone high Res formats under blind/abx test conditions.

I really wouldn't bother wasting any time or energy on chasing higher bit depths and sample rates and leave that to neurotic audiophiles...
 

RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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Most people can't discern between low bit rate, lossy formats and 16/44.1, let alone high Res formats under blind/abx test conditions.

I really wouldn't bother wasting any time or energy on chasing higher bit depths and sample rates and leave that to neurotic audiophiles...
I don't know about most but the difference in solidity of bass and cleanliness of high frequencies between MP3 and HD is certainly easily audible in direct comparison AND if you know what to listen out for in my systems. For the non audiophile upon a quick listen it'll probably wouldn't register.

Telling the difference between CD or Flac and higher resolutions ... more difficult and I wouldn't trust my ears to always identify them but there is more refinement and air if it's a good recording.

We're into Hifi so I personally would bother but not at cost to actual enjoyment which does not always require the ultimate in ... .

Still, it's good to know it is there.
 

RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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Thanks for your response, is that recent with Tidal? When I've used it before, it would always still sample 44.1KHz. Is the Wiim Pro likely to "dig" more detail than my CCA configuration if also hooked up to my existing DacMagic Plus, or will it likely be the same, whilst having added functionality+ gapless? I've recently upgraded to a Roksan Kandy K3, it has more grunt and is dynamically better with a forward tonality rather than a sometimes clincial presentation like my old audiolab pre/power combo. However, whilst it does allow me to hear further in to the recording, it doesn't fetch quite as much detail as I would have liked.

I wondered if the Chromecast was holding me back, or whether it's the DAC, or even possibly that I need to spend more on a different amp or change the speakers.
I'd say it's your DAC (Wolfson?)

One of the many ESS Sabre DAC's available would likely give you that but you'd probably look at the higher end chips (9038) to give you a worthwhile upgrade over the CCA's inbuilt AKM (Asahi Kasei Microdevices) one.

I have a standalone DIY HIFIME higher end SpdiF DAC and both it and the Arcam's built in ESS 9038 DAC give some improvements over the CCA, especially detail.
 
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Zeeman92

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Nov 9, 2014
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I'd say it's your DAC (Wolfson?)

One of the many ESS Sabre DAC's available would likely give you that but you'd probably look at the higher end chips (9038) to give you a worthwhile upgrade over the CCA's inbuilt AKM (Asahi Kasei Microdevices) one.

I have a standalone DIY HIFIME higher end SpdiF DAC and both it and the Arcam's built in ESS 9038 DAC give some improvements over the CCA, especially detail.
Thanks for your comments. Yes, according to the description it has Twin Wolfson WM8740 DACs. When you say 'DIY' I assume you just mean an external DAC? Have you got the link to it so I can have a look at specs?
 

Gray

Well-known member
Now that's what I call a sensible price to pay for a (perfectly decent) DAC.

I use a Khadas Toneboard (currently £103), which also uses the same 9038 DAC chip - and includes a coaxial digital input (which updates the sound of older CD players).
If you can't hide it away, the KTB could do with a case.
Pre-drilled cases are available, I cut a few holes in a metal one:
IMG_20220507_175700_MP.jpg
 
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Zeeman92

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Now that's what I call a sensible price to pay for a (perfectly decent) DAC.

I use a Khadas Toneboard (currently £103), which also uses the same 9038 DAC chip - and includes a coaxial digital input (which updates the sound of older CD players).
If you can't hide it away, the KTB could do with a case.
Pre-drilled cases are available, I cut a few holes in a metal one:
View attachment 4155
What information are you looking that tells you it's a good DAC vs a bad one? The information given on DACs goes over my head a bit.
 

Zeeman92

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Nov 9, 2014
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I've compared the sound of a few.

I wouldn't worry too much about comparing the quoted specs of DACs - many of the £100+ ones have long since reached unbeatable signal / noise figures.
So with that in mind, how likely is this to compare with my DacMagic Plus? Am I likely to gain anything by switching it to a different DAC or shall I stay put? Speakers and amp upgrade are out of the question atm. Have recently got a Roksan K3 to match my MA Silver 300
 

Gray

Well-known member
Am I likely to gain anything by switching it to a different DAC
What you are certain to get is a different sound - but likely only a (very) subtle difference.
(Nothing like the difference you get with amps and especially speakers).

I bought a Dacmagic XS to try (when they were on offer for £39) It sounds quite similar to 2 other DACs that I own.

Your Dacmagic Plus looks like it should be good - not least because of its twin DACs.
It's also very versatile, with the headphone amp and the balanced output option.
So I would be sticking with that if I were you.

In terms of a difference, it might (should) be a different story if you were to go for an R2R type DAC, which uses an array of resistors rather than a chip to do the conversion. (I've just watched a favourable review of a Gustard).
Denafrips is another well-liked brand.
....but they're expensive. I'd certainly need to hear a significant difference in a blind test.
I haven't heard enough of a difference between DACs so far - but then the ones I've tried have never cost more than £600.
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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The only issue is that is much bigger than a CCA and is another box to hide.
Funny ... different people's circumstances / perceptions ..... one of the reasons it appeals to me is I've only 1 digital and one analogue In on one of my systems.
I have a 3 in / 1 out optical spiltter which has my WiiM Mini, Chromecast Audio and TV plugged into it and a separate BT receiver that goes into the analogue in.
I can get rid of the Mini, the CCA, the BT receiver and the splitter box and all their associated cables by switching to the Pro which might be a bigger box but it won't half "tidy up" the whole area :)
 
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Zeeman92

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Nov 9, 2014
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Thanks for your comments everyone.

'Your Dacmagic Plus looks like it should be good - not least because of its twin DACs.
It's also very versatile, with the headphone amp and the balanced output option.
So I would be sticking with that if I were you.'

If we ignore the balanced outputs of the DacMagic Plus and headphone option (neither of which I use), is something like the hifime product that ROA recommended likely to fetch any better details? Although, I understand you said any improvements would be incredibly subtle.


'I haven't heard enough of a difference between DACs so far - but then the ones I've tried have never cost more than £600.'

That's interesting, so a lot is likely just marketing and snake oil? One thing that gets me with their testing is that it's always on reference equipment that most people don't have the bank account for.

I looked at both the hifme and the Khadas Toneboard you have, but the latter doesn't have optical like the hifime does which I'd need with my CCA. With that in mind and Amazon HD only allowing a cd quality to be sent to CCA, despite what the stream may be, is it not better for me to get something like a Wiim Pro and then look at the DAC? Why does Amazon do this anyway? It doesn't really sense to me, it's all a bit confusing!
 

rsvg

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Dec 10, 2022
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Hi, sorry I read all this and I still don’t get it. I have a chromecast audio, hooked up via digital optical in to a rotel a12mkII that is definitely capable of higher bitrates than what it is showing on its screen “44.1khz”.
My tidal account is showing hifi quality being output but I’m not seeing any settings to change here.
 

rsvg

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Dec 10, 2022
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Ok weird. Yeah I’m now on pc-usb connected with the rotel app on a pc and everything and I can change from 24 to 32 bit but no matter what it stays 44 or 48khz
 

rsvg

Active member
Dec 10, 2022
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Ok, thank you. Yeah I’ve selected usb audio 2.0 in windows and do have audio from the rotel and it sounds good I just can’t figure out why it won’t play anything other than 44 or 48khz. Might be tidal. I’ll try other sources. Nbd thanks
 
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Zeeman92

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Nov 9, 2014
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Thanks for your comments everyone.

'Your Dacmagic Plus looks like it should be good - not least because of its twin DACs.
It's also very versatile, with the headphone amp and the balanced output option.
So I would be sticking with that if I were you.'

If we ignore the balanced outputs of the DacMagic Plus and headphone option (neither of which I use), is something like the hifime product that ROA recommended likely to fetch any better details? Although, I understand you said any improvements would be incredibly subtle.


'I haven't heard enough of a difference between DACs so far - but then the ones I've tried have never cost more than £600.'

That's interesting, so a lot is likely just marketing and snake oil? One thing that gets me with their testing is that it's always on reference equipment that most people don't have the bank account for.

I looked at both the hifme and the Khadas Toneboard you have, but the latter doesn't have optical like the hifime does which I'd need with my CCA. With that in mind and Amazon HD only allowing a cd quality to be sent to CCA, despite what the stream may be, is it not better for me to get something like a Wiim Pro and then look at the DAC? Why does Amazon do this anyway? It doesn't really sense to me, it's all a bit confusing!
Would any one be able to advise regarding my queries in this please?
 

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