• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Review and Measurements of Chromecast Audio Digital Output

adam2434

Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2019
Messages
58
Likes
42
Does it really matter? Could you tell them apart even if they could be discerned by equipment?
I don't know, but that would be a moot question if they were known to be bit-for-bit identical.

Not trying to start a debate on the audibility of this or that.

This is a pretty simple question - is a Tidal FLAC 16/44.1 stream bit-for-bit identical to a local FLAC CD rip of the same track as played through the CCA?

A simple question for which there may not be an answer, and that's ok.
 

mSpot

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
351
Likes
445
This is a pretty simple question - is a Tidal FLAC 16/44.1 stream bit-for-bit identical to a local FLAC CD rip of the same track as played through the CCA?

A simple question for which there may not be an answer, and that's ok.
Your question isn't so simple because you can't depend on using a CD rip as a reference. Tidal might not be using the exactly the same track that was released on CD. Tidal's version might be MQA encoded, or the record label may be providing a remastered version to streaming services that is different from the CD release.

The question to ask is whether playing the same track on the native Tidal app is bit-for-bit identical to playing Tidal through the CCA. Here is a test where someone concluded that it is not bit-perfect: https://nikitin.io/posts/is-chromecast-bitperfect/. He didn't provide complete test details and I'm not ready to accept his conclusion, but I think he took the right approach.
 

adam2434

Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2019
Messages
58
Likes
42
Your question isn't so simple because you can't depend on using a CD rip as a reference. Tidal might not be using the exactly the same track that was released on CD. Tidal's version might be MQA encoded, or the record label may be providing a remastered version to streaming services that is different from the CD release.

The question to ask is whether playing the same track on the native Tidal app is bit-for-bit identical to playing Tidal through the CCA. Here is a test where someone concluded that it is not bit-perfect: https://nikitin.io/posts/is-chromecast-bitperfect/. He didn't provide complete test details and I'm not ready to accept his conclusion, but I think he took the right approach.

This is really an intellectual exercise or question to determine "what you get" with Tidal FLAC vs. one's personal FLAC library from CD rips, so just a curiosity for me personally, not a big deal or anything that would push me away from Tidal FLAC streaming (for which I subscribe).

I think the initial question is simple, but if the answer is "no" (Tidal FLAC stream is not identical to a FLAC CD rip of the same track), the reason for "no" may not be simple or easily known, as you indicated.

I think it would be interesting to take a new release CD FLAC rip and the same FLAC track on Tidal and capture/compare the CCA digital bitstream for both, perhaps with the same methodology used in the link your provided.

If they are not identical, then the question becomes "Why?".

A couple thoughts on why they might not be identical, if that was shown to be the case.

1) Different source file on CD vs. Tidal.
  • Probably no way of knowing what Tidal "gets" from the record labels for their FLAC stream. Maybe a 16/44.1 WAV or FLAC file that would be identical to the CD's WAV or FLAC file...or maybe not. For a new release (not a remaster), I can't think of a good reason why a record label would provide a different 16/44.1 WAV or FLAC vs. what's on the CD, but who knows.
2) Tidal receives a file identical to the CD, but intentionally transcodes/modifies the file for streaming.

3) Tidal receives a file identical to the CD, but unintentionally transcodes/modifies the file for streaming.

Again, this is just a curiosity for me personally, and something to discuss and possibly understand better, but not a biggie because ultimately, the Tidal FLAC stream is what it is.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,795
Likes
11,043
This is really an intellectual exercise or question to determine "what you get" with Tidal FLAC vs. one's personal FLAC library from CD rips, so just a curiosity for me personally, not a big deal or anything that would push me away from Tidal FLAC streaming (for which I subscribe).

I think the initial question is simple, but if the answer is "no" (Tidal FLAC stream is not identical to a FLAC CD rip of the same track), the reason for "no" may not be simple or easily known, as you indicated.

I think it would be interesting to take a new release CD FLAC rip and the same FLAC track on Tidal and capture/compare the CCA digital bitstream for both, perhaps with the same methodology used in the link your provided.

If they are not identical, then the question becomes "Why?".

A couple thoughts on why they might not be identical, if that was shown to be the case.

1) Different source file on CD vs. Tidal.
  • Probably no way of knowing what Tidal "gets" from the record labels for their FLAC stream. Maybe a 16/44.1 WAV or FLAC file that would be identical to the CD's WAV or FLAC file...or maybe not. For a new release (not a remaster), I can't think of a good reason why a record label would provide a different 16/44.1 WAV or FLAC vs. what's on the CD, but who knows.
2) Tidal receives a file identical to the CD, but intentionally transcodes/modifies the file for streaming.

3) Tidal receives a file identical to the CD, but unintentionally transcodes/modifies the file for streaming.

Again, this is just a curiosity for me personally, and something to discuss and possibly understand better, but not a biggie because ultimately, the Tidal FLAC stream is what it is.
You're in the wrong thread. See this post (and indeed read the posts before and after too) https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...watermarking-what-do-we-know.4871/post-132501
 

mSpot

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
351
Likes
445
If they are not identical, then the question becomes "Why?".
There are two separate questions. One is whether the CCA itself is bit-perfect — does it pass its input source stream to its output without altering the data? From reports and tests I've seen on the web, I believe that the CCA itself is bit-perfect.

The other question is about the quality of content that Tidal is sending. That discussion is mostly for the Tidal thread, not here. There is one question that is relevant, which is whether the Tidal server sends the same stream to Chromecast devices as it does to Tidal apps. In the case of Spotify, it sends a different stream (up to 320kbps Ogg-Vorbis to Spotify apps, but it sends an AAC stream up to 256kbps to Chromecast devices).

You're in the wrong thread. See this post (and indeed read the posts before and after too) https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...watermarking-what-do-we-know.4871/post-132501
That is from 2018-2019 and thankfully out of date now. The vast majority of UMG watermarks were removed from online services around 2020. I can confirm from my own experience.
 

adam2434

Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2019
Messages
58
Likes
42
If someone had the interest and capabilities, the test I mentioned a couple posts back could answer both the question of Tidal's stream quality (vs. a CD FLAC rip) to the CCA and the CCA's ability to pass the stream bit-perfect through its digital output:

Take a new release CD FLAC rip and the same FLAC track on Tidal and capture/compare the CCA digital bitstream for both.

One would have a make their best educated assumption that the CD and the Tidal FLAC track are from the same label release/master by looking at the label, release date, etc.

If the two bitstreams from the CCA are identical, then I think one could assume that the Tidal FLAC track is identical to the CD and that the CCA is passing it bit-perfect.

I'll post in the watermarking thread linked above to ask if anyone has the interest and capabilities to do such a test with the CCA.
 

Buckeye Amps

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
846
Likes
2,643
Hey all,

I have been using a CCA hooked to my HTP-1 via RCA cables to cast my audio from my Android phone. I just recently switched to Tidal and use it for my playback on my phone.

If I use Google Home to cast to the CCA and then playback music on my Tidal player, am I getting the best audio playback possible or should I be going about a different route?
 

BDWoody

Chief Cat Herder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
5,480
Likes
16,029
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
Hey all,

I have been using a CCA hooked to my HTP-1 via RCA cables to cast my audio from my Android phone. I just recently switched to Tidal and use it for my playback on my phone.

If I use Google Home to cast to the CCA and then playback music on my Tidal player, am I getting the best audio playback possible or should I be going about a different route?

Have you tried connecting via toslink? I assume the HTP-1 has an available input?
 

Buckeye Amps

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
846
Likes
2,643
Have you tried connecting via toslink? I assume the HTP-1 has an available input?
I have not but it does have a Toslink.

I suppose my question is, does anyone know if casting directly through the Tidal app on my phone will provide lossless/bit perfect playback like other players have been mentioned to do when casting to the CCA (like Hi-Fi player or Roon)?
 

Booker

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
51
Likes
47
Without having our own file for bit-perfect testing on the TIDAL service, we will never know.
 

BDWoody

Chief Cat Herder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
5,480
Likes
16,029
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
Ahhh...sorry! My understanding is yes.

 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,795
Likes
11,043
Ahhh...sorry! My understanding is yes.

I agree. I think the main issues years ago was that casting from a player in chrome was dodgy. As was playing on the phone then casting the whole phone output (so going through the phone dac then casting locally.)

All the streaming services own apps should cast bit perfect to the CCA directly. I'm not sure up to what bit depth /rate and certainly not mqa for tidal.

If you want to check, download free trial of bubble upnp and play tidal through that and cast. Should sound identical.
 

Buckeye Amps

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
846
Likes
2,643
and certainly not mqa for tidal.
Ahh, is that why when I just cast right from Tidal all my 'Master' quality songs were only playing in 'HiFi' ?
 

Buckeye Amps

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
846
Likes
2,643
If using analog out from CCA make sure to enable Full Dynamic Range in settings.
I cannot get settings to show up. Press the gear icon under the "Speaker" in Google Home and the screen is blank. Just reset the CCA and set it back up and still a blank settings screen.

I will be using an optical cable going forward. Is there anything in the settings screen I am missing or does casting from a third party app (like Tidal) bypass any settings in the CCA?
 

gvl

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
3,072
Likes
3,324
Location
SoCal
Iirc the full dynamic range is always on for Toslink out, just make sure the volume control is all the way up, but I think it’s liked to the Tidals volume control when casting to CCA so you can change it in the Tidal app. There are also tone controls but they should be off after a reset.
 

Buckeye Amps

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
846
Likes
2,643
Iirc the full dynamic range is always on for Toslink out, just make sure the volume control is all the way up, but I think it’s liked to the Tidals volume control when casting to CCA so you can change it in the Tidal app. There are also tone controls but they should be off after a reset.
Thanks. Seems I should be set now that I know how to use it with tidal properly
 

capslock

Active Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
212
Likes
97
Well, anything on Tidal that has only a Master and no HiFi version will be lossy even if you force to HiFi or have a HiFi subscription. Just do a search here.

Tidal is not lossless for most of its catalogue. Period.

I also don't see why the app would matter. When you stream, the app passes a streaming link to CCA which downloads the FLAC file directly from Tidal's server. This is how Chromecast streaming works. I verified this when I still had Tidal (which I ditched). The iOS app would often lose connection but the CCA would keep on playing.
 

Buckeye Amps

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
846
Likes
2,643
Well, anything on Tidal that has only a Master and no HiFi version will be lossy even if you force to HiFi or have a HiFi subscription. Just do a search here.

Tidal is not lossless for most of its catalogue. Period.
I just found this out after doing a lot of searching.

Is there any point in having the HiFi Premium subscription than? Or should I just have the HiFi subscription and save the money?
 
Top Bottom