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Review and Measurements of Chromecast Audio Digital Output

vkvedam

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I have a question for someone who is using CCA with D50?

Do you see the bit depth always being displayed as 24-Bit? That's what I am seeing in my case.

Thanks...
 
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Anyone else having issues with choppiness or short pauses while streaming 96khz/24bit to CCA via Roon?
Any recommendations for alternative Roon streamers? I'm thinking of the Node 2i, but the measurements are inferior to the CCA.
 

BillG

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Anyone else having issues with choppiness or short pauses while streaming 96khz/24bit to CCA via Roon?
Any recommendations for alternative Roon streamers? I'm thinking of the Node 2i, but the measurements are inferior to the CCA.
It's a known bug with CCA at 24/96. Goggle is aware of the issue, but has yet to issue a fix.

https://support.google.com/chromecast/thread/356030?hl=en

Personally I'd just live with it at Redbook standard for the moment, as the difference is sound quality between standard 16/44.1, or 16/48, and 24/96 is slight to imperceptible to most people.
 
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Anyone else having issues with choppiness or short pauses while streaming 96khz/24bit to CCA via Roon?
Any recommendations for alternative Roon streamers? I'm thinking of the Node 2i, but the measurements are inferior to the CCA.
So, I was not particularly happy with the sound of my CCA streaming Tidal. It actually seemed a step down from my older Apple tv, which streamed directly from my iPad and is decidedly NOT his-res capable. I've been looking at alternatives, but I want to use my existing DAC and was amazed at the high prices of the streamer boxes on the market. I was about to go with a Bluesound Node2i that I found slightly used for $400 on ebay. Still, $400 seemed like a lot for a DAC and multiroom streaming I wouldn't use. I just needed a way to get high quality, hi-res capable bits to my DAC - controlled by my iPad. What I needed was a transport.

Yesterday I received my Allo DigiOne (about $200). The reviews out there were very good, but I was skeptical. It's just 0s and 1s, right? I was also highly cognizant of confirmation bias and I was determined to be neutral and expected it to sound about the same.
Within the first song or two, that flew out the window. It sounded better! Noticeably better. The harshness in the high end was gone - it is now more refined. The bass from my two sealed subs was more controlled, less boomy. Overall, the presentation was significantly more balanced, refined, and just sweeter. I sat there smiling. I love the sound of this!

Say what you will about digital signals being agnostic. My belief is that although the 1s and 0s mostly all get there, how your particular DAC and your particular system reacts to and translates the signal entering the DAC makes a difference in the final sound. Allo's work in reducing jitter and providing a clean signal has proven to me it's worth in MY system, and it sounds fantastic. YMMV.

So, strong recommendation for the Allo DigiOne. I ordered it with Volumio installed, which has Tidal support. These are also Roon endpoint capable. Amir reviewed it last year: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...measurements-of-allo-digione-rpi-s-pdif.5418/
 

Willem

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I am glad you are happy with your Allo. However, there is no scientific reason why your CCA should be sonically deficient. Just look at the published distortion, noise and frequency response measurements. An external DAC might just improve the sound a very small bit, but I doubt that would be audible in all but the most transparent systems. And if you were to use the digital output, there is not a chance in the world that anything could be audibly superior if you use a decent DAC.
 
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I am glad you are happy with your Allo. However, there is no scientific reason why your CCA should be sonically deficient. Just look at the published distortion, noise and frequency response measurements. An external DAC might just improve the sound a very small bit, but I doubt that would be audible in all but the most transparent systems. And if you were to use the digital output, there is not a chance in the world that anything could be audibly superior if you use a decent DAC.
I understand your point. I understand this site is about measurements. However, I disagree with your conclusion. Although the distortion measurements are an important factor, they just do not tell the whole story. I switched from an optical input to a SPDIF coax input (with same DAC), maybe that was a factor. I'm using a different cable, maybe that was a factor. Maybe my particular DAC is better at coax input vs Optical. Maybe my DAC does not eliminate jitter well enough from the CCA.

I don't want to get into that bigger argument, especially here. I do not agree that "...there is not a chance in the world anything could be audibly superior...". Because it's my system, my ears, my living room. With full acknowledgement of confirmation bias and the usefullness of blind AB testing, I am 100% confident that I prefer the Allo sound over the CCA sound in my system. Your experience with your ears and your setup may be different.

My experience and opinion is that there are more variables than just measureable distortion and jitter that affect the sound of the digital chain. In my research on the Allo, there were many subjective opinions on the differing sound signatures of DACs and transports. If you want to dismiss all this as nonsense and say all Digital is the same, that's fine. If you want to say confirmation bias colors everything, that's fine. If you want to think I'm imagining things, that's fine too. You are entitled to your opinion, and we can disagree.
I was responding to the previous post asking for a Roon endpoint alternative. The Signature has been well received and I was adding my experience as well.
Cheers :)
 

Willem

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I am a scientist by profession (though not in anything related to audio) so I like to stick to the scientific method. Opinions are about what music you like, like Bach or the Stones. That is fine, as there is no valid methodology to decide. For me, however, facts are not a mattter of opinion, nor, to be precise, can there be alternative facts.
This is not, of course, to say that the CCA is necessarily perfect, particularly on its analogue output. The question is if there is a reasonable possibility, given existing research, that the differences that there are would be audible. The standard of proof is pretty high.
 

GGroch

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Yesterday I received my Allo DigiOne (about $200).......I ordered it with Volumio installed, which has Tidal support. These are also Roon endpoint capable.
I am not very familiar with the Allo offerings...but you purchased an Allo DigiOne PLAYER with Volumio right....not just the DAC. So you are using some software to access Tidal...it looks like options include Myvolumio or some other combination using BubbleUpnp or something simliar?

I understand that Tidal streams to different devices at different quality levels. So there may be a lot more going on here than just zeros and ones right? I think there is skepticism as to whether the CCA's DAC can be significantly improved on, but there is no question if you are listening to a different stream quality there could very likely be a difference in sound. I know the CCA does not do MQA that Tidal offers on some platforms for example.
 
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I am not very familiar with the Allo offerings...but you purchased an Allo DigiOne PLAYER with Volumio right....not just the DAC. So you are using some software to access Tidal...it looks like options include Myvolumio or some other combination using BubbleUpnp or something simliar?

I understand that Tidal streams to different devices at different quality levels. So there may be a lot more going on here than just zeros and ones right? I think there is skepticism as to whether the CCA's DAC can be significantly improved on, but there is no question if you are listening to a different stream quality there could very likely be a difference in sound. I know the CCA does not do MQA that Tidal offers on some platforms for example.
Yes, I got the Digione Player. It acts as a transport to your DAC. I got mine pre-loaded with Volumio, which has native Tidal support. I subscribe to Tidal Hi-Fi, so hi rez and Masters come through via ethernet directly to the player then DAC at native resolution. My iPad acts as the remote.
There is no MQA support, but that may not be a bad thing dependiing on where you land on that debate.
It’s an interesting device and approach, you can check out their website and a few reviews on the interwebs in addition to Amir’s.
 
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I am a scientist by profession (though not in anything related to audio) so I like to stick to the scientific method. Opinions are about what music you like, like Bach or the Stones. That is fine, as there is no valid methodology to decide. For me, however, facts are not a mattter of opinion, nor, to be precise, can there be alternative facts.
This is not, of course, to say that the CCA is necessarily perfect, particularly on its analogue output. The question is if there is a reasonable possibility, given existing research, that the differences that there are would be audible. The standard of proof is pretty high.
Ah, well sir, there is the rub. If your supposition is that the end result coming out of the speakers can be boiled down to a few measurements of the signal going into the DAC, that’s where we differ. There are many more variables at play than that, I mentioned a few in my previous post.
Besides, it’s a subjective opinion- it sounds better. I am not challenging that the numbers that have been measured are accurate and similar. I am arguing that there are more things affecting the sound than we have the abilty to predict.
You may want to run your own listening experiments, see what you hear on your system. Us audio nerds love a good blind a/b test.
 
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FWIW I can tell an immediate difference between usb out to my modi 3 when using pixel 2 vs Pixel XL on my 2 ch work monitor system. I have family Spotify account. Both devices are logged into Spotify under different accounts. The soundstage and imaging drastically changes. Picture my arms streched wide and me holding my arms like I'm shivering. It shrinks like that. Same song, same bitrate, same usb cable, same DAC, same everything, except the phone/USB/source.
 
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FWIW I can tell an immediate difference between usb out to my modi 3 when using pixel 2 vs Pixel XL on my 2 ch work monitor system. I have family Spotify account. Both devices are logged into Spotify under different accounts. The soundstage and imaging drastically changes. Picture my arms streched wide and me holding my arms like I'm shivering. It shrinks like that. Same song, same bitrate, same usb cable, same DAC, same everything, except the phone/USB/source.
Android audio resampling could possibly be a confounding variable. USB Audio Player Pro bypasses Android audio resampling for USB dacs, but support for streaming services is limited.
 

BillG

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FWIW I can tell an immediate difference between usb out to my modi 3 when using pixel 2 vs Pixel XL on my 2 ch work monitor system. I have family Spotify account. Both devices are logged into Spotify under different accounts. The soundstage and imaging drastically changes. Picture my arms streched wide and me holding my arms like I'm shivering. It shrinks like that. Same song, same bitrate, same usb cable, same DAC, same everything, except the phone/USB/source.
The Modi 3 is rather sensitive to USB input noise.
 

Willem

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I am not sure what is there is more in electronics than noise, distortion, frequency response and - perhaps - jitter. Ingredient X is just imagination.
And yes, my CCA performs beautifully through my Quad electrostatics. In the temporary absence of my external DAC I am currently playing it through its internal DAC, directly into my Quad 606-2 power amp.
 
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I am not sure what is there is more in electronics than noise, distortion, frequency response and - perhaps - jitter. Ingredient X is just imagination.
And yes, my CCA performs beautifully through my Quad electrostatics. In the temporary absence of my external DAC I am currently playing it through its internal DAC, directly into my Quad 606-2 power amp.
So, you are running a CCA analog out to your amp and suggest that others who can discern a difference in digital sources is due to "imagination" and "there is not a chance in the world that anything could be audibly superior if you use a decent DAC"?
If you are happy with your $35 transport/DAC setup, that's great. However, there are many, many others who would disagree. It's bad form to tell others what they do and do not hear on an audio forum just because you think you have all the electronic interactions figured out.
 

Willem

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You are misquoting me. That 'not a chance in the world' referred to the digital output which is indeed bit perfect.
 
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Willem, apologies I quoted you out of context. Interested in just a spirited discussion here, no offense intended.

Is it always bit perfect though? To get back on topic, because I think this is an important point due to the low cost and high number of units out there.

Amir tested the CCA with a web browser and as a Roon endpoint. The web browser performance was awful, whereas the the Roon implementation was "bit perfect".
There was an ask in the forums for Amir to perform more tests with the CCA using Tidal and Qobuz, as his results so far were mixed. It seems capable of good performance, but not in every circumstance. It is a great bargain if it performs well with other streaming platforms.

And this was my original point. I switched from CCA via optical streaming Tidal to DigiOne player via dig coax streaming Tidal, and it sounds noticeably better to my ears, on my system. Curious if Amir's measurements would show any difference.
 
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And this was my original point. I switched from CCA via optical streaming Tidal to DigiOne player via dig coax streaming Tidal, and it sounds noticeably better to my ears, on my system.
I think the hardest part is to narrow down where the difference stems from. Maybe the Allo hardware is just plain better. Maybe it is the software. Maybe the dac sounds different between inputs as you mentioned earlier. Maybe it is the encoding format and bitrate as GGroch said. There is also the possibility that distortion is introduced somewhere that subjectively sounds better.

It would be interesting if you broke down some of the possibilities, starting with a comparison of dac inputs and working upstream.
 

Willem

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The casting from the Chrome browser is terrible but using the app works a treat. The analogue output is very good, particularly at 16/44. The digital output is absolutely perfect, with only an above average jitter level. A good dac will deal with that. It may seem surprising that such cheap devices can be so good but it is true. Check out Archimago's review.
 
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PierreV

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I own seven CCAs, 5 of them using optical out, two of them in line out.

In direct comparisons between CCA optical and CCA line out (feeding the Linn DAC/Preamp), the difference is clearly audible on my large systems. That's actually one of the few things I can very reliably detect in AB tests. (informal tests, I make no claim, so don't shoot). I am, on the other hand, unable to hear a difference between CCA optical to Linn or Ethernet to Linn or KTB line out to Linn etc...

The CCA is a wonderful wireless end-point.

The 48kHz resampling issue was painful at the start and has now been solved for devices and apps (listening to Malia from my android phone to CCA to a DAC with display and it definitely receives 44.1kHz. Casting youtube from a browser from PC unfortunately seems to remain resampled at 48kHz.

The only downsides afaic are

- some can be temperamental at times: I have five of them that are rock solid, two I need to reboot now and then. No real idea why, my network includes one pro and two "high-end" routers as APs. The network is fully managed, static IPs, managed switches between them AP configuration is identical except for the channels which are optimized.

- the ability that Roon has to unfold MQA to 96kHz is a mixed blessing or even an inconvenience on the CCA as it introduces a pop/drop now and then.
 
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