+Engadget​ misguided when reviewing the Chromecast audio

In cons:
* Audio quality may not be up to par for discerning listeners

For anyone out there who's spent a decent amount of money on audio speakers, there's a chance that the hardware inside the Chromecast Audio won't be of high-enough quality for such a purchase to make sense.

So how +Engadget​ evaluated the audio quality: Maybe guessing from the price point or something?
As usual, it would be nice for the press to abstain rating the quality of things they have no idea how to evaluate.

I look forward receiving mine, and will try to find a way to actually measure its analog audio quality, also the digital one (mostly: to see if there's re-sampling involved)

#supercurioBlog #critic #audio

Chromecast Audio review: Give your old speakers a new brain
Google’s audio-only Chromecast won’t make sense for everyone, but for a certain kind of customer, it’ll be a no-brainer.

Source post on Google+

Published by

François Simond

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

21 thoughts on “+Engadget​ misguided when reviewing the Chromecast audio”

  1. Just got the new regular Chromecast and having Spotify support is awesome. I'm kinda eyeing the Chromecast Audio too, especially because it has optical out, so you can use it with a DAC of your choice – or just plug in that minijack and go to town.

  2. It's a terrible review. The Chromecast Audio has digital optical output which you can run into a high end DAC using a mini toslink cable delivering excellent quality lossless digital into ANY audio system. I'm using it that way with no issues at all. Not sure how the reviewer missed this.

  3. +Jeff Mudrick Note that optical output is not a guarantee of lossless quality.
    Among the quality reducing mistake that can be made, there's low-quality re-sampling, bad gain management that reduces the dynamic range to less than what's possible with 16 bits.
    No assumption can be made until it's measured.

  4. That's true François and there were reports of resampling but I'm not sure we have the details yet. In any event the review is quite off base that you need to rely on the Chromecast DAC to use the device.

  5. +François Simond I forgot where I read it(someplace on google's site), but the toslink is 24/96 by default. If you use the 3.5 analog connection and want max res of the device(24/96), you have to enable "high dynamic range" in the new CC app settings. That said, I'm not sure if the device is doing anything wonky with the audio, but I spent a significant amount of time listening to mine this weekend and from what I can tell, it's fairly transparent.

    My listening was a few different ways. I used the beta BubbleUPNP to stream Tidal directly to my CC Audio as well as cast FLAC (16/44, 24/44, 24/96, and even some 24/192 WAVs) from my local music server(Asset UPNP). I made sure Asset wasn't converting the the 24/192 version to anything and Bubble confirmed it was streaming that bitrate to the CC Audio. Seeing how the CC Audio only supports 24/96, I suspect it was downsampling, but whether or not it's converting 24/96, I didn't do any recording tests. All of my listening was done subjectively via studio monitors and various headphones with my headphone amp.

  6. I have an Audiolab MDac that shows the bit depth and sample rate it receives from a given input. I'm only using one of its optical inputs… I really ought to buy the Chromecast Audio just to see if it handles 24/96 FLAC correctly.

  7. +Jeff Mudrick I just found the thread you're referring to. Chris seems pretty upset. I haven't used the optical connection, so I'm in the dark on that. My info regarding the toslink connection came from here:

    Regarding my subjective listening. Tidal streams at 16/44 FLAC so I guess it wouldn't really matter. With the higher res files I sent it, it might just be that I can't hear the difference between 48, 96, and 192 at 24 bit or that my equipment isn't good enough. I could definitely hear the difference between Google Play Music mp3s and Tidal's FLAC through the CC Audio, though.

    It seems a little strange to me that google would advertise 24/96 then resample everything to 16?/48 if people could easily know by feeding their decks through the optical out. Perhaps it's a firmware issue. Since it only costs $35, maybe someone will soon crack it open and find out what's inside.

  8. The support page wording is very strange:

    Note: Many common speaker systems such as desktop computer speakers, docking speakers, portable and Bluetooth speakers are not built to support such a high dynamic range, causing the volume level to be very loud and sound to be somewhat distorted. Please avoid turning this setting on in those cases.

    The only logical reason why it would be written like that would be because by default, the Chromecast output goes through a compresser-limiter.


  9. +Clifton Archuleta​ No the 24/96 spec doesn't make sense if it just gets resampled. My Audio-GD DAC doesn't tell me what's being input but I presume Chris is correct. Also agree that for $35 the fact that it works at all (and faultlessly thus far) is a minor miracle. I'll keep my setup with Roon/Tidal on USB input, Chromecast for Google Play on optical for its practical advantages and hope firmware is changed as need be for 24/96 output.

  10. +Jeff Mudrick Roon is very nice, I just wish it supported phones since I don't have a tablet. Trying to use the app on my Galaxy S6 is painful. BubbleUPNP has become my control point of choice since it has Tidal integration and if I'm at my desk sometimes settle for Kazoo. Since you have Tidal and a CC Audio maybe you can test Bubble as well and let me know what you think. Well, as long as you have an Android device. Here's a link to the beta that works with CC Audio:


  11. +François Simond​ I agree !
    Idon't know what dac / dsp / hub its used but I believe it can be possible to have a relative good sound quality and still have the price of 35 euros.
    Even my favourites chipsets from Wolfson aren't that expensive to my knowledge.

    Also.. I think it's internals should be better for sound that the chromecast. After all you can use the chromecast for audio as well thru the HDMI port, as most sound amps nowadays have a hdmi port.

  12. +François Simond
    This quote:

    " Many common speaker systems such as desktop computer speakers, docking speakers, portable and Bluetooth speakers are not built to support such a high dynamic range, causing the volume level to be very loud and sound to be somewhat distorted. Please avoid turning this setting on in those cases."

    Can they be referring to audio in:out versus headphones in:out? Different volumes for both..

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