Chromecast audio first impressions

I just received my #Chromecast audio and couldn't resist trying it right away with headphones.

So it's perfectly capable of driving the 300 ohms +Sennheiser​​ HD 650.
The "High Dynamic Range" seems to produce a higher quality with these headphones, the output level also gets several dB higher when activated.
(then at the maximum level, it gives a sound pressure well above the pain threshold, with surprisingly low distortion)
Subjectively it also sounds rather good, which is not the case for every equipment with the HD 650: with its mostly neutral frequency response and low distortion it becomes a lot easier to tell the difference.

A very crude quick test via lossily compressed test samples seem to indicate the presence of some resampling artifacts on 44.1kHz content, none for 48 kHz (needs verification)

Still, it could probably serve as cheap headphones DAC / amplifier for special uses for headphones notoriously difficult to drive, replacing favorably a few smartphones or laptops' audio output.

But please don't take my word on it quite yet, I'll test with more headphones / earphones and also complete measurements.

I might have to write some new code for that however in order to cast lossless audio – apps I found so far use lossy transcoding which is not necessary.

#supercurioBlog #audio

Source post on Google+

Published by

François Simond

Mobile engineer & analyst specialized in, display, camera color calibration, audio tuning

19 thoughts on “Chromecast audio first impressions”

  1. I tried with the very sensitive in-ears Sure SE535:
    – you can hear hiss
    – you can hear quantization artifacts at lowest volumes.
    I suspect the mixing and DAC are running at 48/16 at the moment.

    It's not bad at driving low sensitivity or high impedance headphones because of the 2V output via the DRV632, however it's weak for what's very sensitive.
    Most smartphones from recent generations are better at that already.

    But it is fine for what it's supposed to do anyway which is outputting at 2Vrms line-out level into another audio equipment 😛
    24-bit mixing and output would still be desirable for software volume however.

  2. So you give the akm dac a thumbs up?
    Couldn't remember where I read akm before until I finally found the e-mu 0404 had used it.

    The hiss shouldn't be a problem with the higher input impedance on the speakers. (10 kOhm on mine)

    Very tempted to pick one up just because.

  3. +Viljo Viitanen I didn't complete measurements yet on this one, but trained ears with low distortion headphones allow to identify all sort of audio quality issues 😉
    For resampling artifacts I'm using the famous 44.1 kHz udial sample and a 48 kHz version of it I made using SoX.
    This sample also enables you to hear and detect audio jitter in some scenarios, this is how I started with Voodoo Sound years ago ☺

  4. First impression is it sounds rather good if you use the power supply.
    If you try to save on Wall outlets in use you get to hear everything going on on that bus.

    What do they use when you don't opt-in to the high dynamic range in settings?
    What do they use if you do?

Leave a Reply