Chromecast / Airplay Question - iOS - CXN V2 Streamer

CJLeica

Novice Member
Hi guys,

Infrequent poster, frequent reader.
I am setting my parents up with a new streamer, they've always had pretty good spec equipment but want to stream properly rather than just AirPlay via a very unreliable NA8005. Short story is they have bought Cambridge CXA81, CXC and CXN V2 streamer on a good deal. I have the same amp myself.

I have amazon music that I share with them and that isn't a natively supported app by Cambridge' Stream Magic app, which doesnt matter as I know Chromecast and Airplay works... What I am struggling to get my head around is the quality difference.

  1. Will Chromecast, controlled by an iPhone or iPad, still give the full 24/96 quality via the CXN V2 streamer?
  2. The Airplay way isn effectively sent to the streamer via the phone, but Chromecast isn't quite the same is it?
Any advice or help or knowledge would be appreciated.

Thanks, Chris
 

Cebolla

Member
Hi Chris,

1. The CXN's Chromecast built-in player is supposed to support the streaming of lossless audio file tracks up to a resolution of 24bit/96kHz.
However, Amazon have for their own reasons prevented all Chromecast supporting devices from receiving the lossless CD-res, ie, at an audio resolution of 16bit/44.1kHz (Amazon calls these 'HD') and lossless hi-res, ie, greater than CD-res (Amazon calls these 'UHD') audio file tracks provided by their Amazon Music HD service. So only Amazon Music's lossy (which they call 'SD') audio file tracks, with a bitrate of up to 320kbps, are available via Chromecast.
Probably not surprising, given that Google Cast aka Chromecast network streaming is a rival technology to Amazon's own Alexa/Echo network streaming. See the Amazon Music Unlimited in HD FAQ webpage, where the only mention of Chromecast support is subtly tagged to the end of the 'Which Android Devices support Amazon Music HD?' section:

Which Android devices support Amazon Music HD?​

Most Android devices running Android Lollipop, released in 2014, or later support HD/Ultra HD playback. However, Android devices vary widely in quality and purpose, so we advise checking manufacturer specifications for HD/Ultra HD support.

At this time Amazon Music HD is not supported on Chromecast.

BTW, the maximum audio resolution available from Amazon Music HD is 24bit/192kHz, not 24bit/96kHz (from same Amazon webpage linked above):

What audio quality does Amazon Music support?​

Amazon Music offers lossless audio in two quality ranges: HD and Ultra HD.
HD tracks have a bit depth of 16-bits, a minimum sample rate of 44.1 kHz (also referred to as CD-quality), and an average bitrate of 850 kbps. Ultra HD tracks have a bit depth of 24 bits, sample rates ranging from 44.1 kHz up to 192 kHz, and an average bitrate of 3730 kbps.
In comparison, most standard streaming services currently offer Standard Definition (SD) with a bitrate up to 320 kbps. These audio files use lossy compression, where details of the original audio are removed in order to reduce the file size. By contrast, Amazon Music preserves the original recording information to deliver the highest quality sound available, more than 2x the bitrate in HD and more than 10x the bitrate at the highest Ultra HD bitrate. Amazon Music will always play the highest quality content available, based on network, device capability and your selected settings.


2. Yes. Using Chromecast via a Chromecast supporting app on the iPhone/iPad gets the Chromecast device to stream the audio file tracks themselves, directly from the provider's network server, be that online, or, on your own network (eg from your computer or NAS). That is different to how AirPlay works, which streams the audio output of the app playing the tracks (that would otherwise go to the iPhone/iPad's own DAC & eventually out to its speakers).


Hope this rather long post helps!
 
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CJLeica

Novice Member
Ah ok I see. Nothing is too simple in the streaming world eh?

Thanks for the info. Appreciate it. I knew it wouldn't quite be as simple as plug and play. Streamers really need to have the app natively to make it worthwhile I feel, my BlueSound device has not skipped a beat in the 5-6 years I have owned it. While Airplay is about as unreliable as it gets.

Shame company politics gets in the way of enjoyment.
 

Cebolla

Member
Indeed. Though, I would have thought the use of AirPlay would be more an inconvenience rather than it being unreliable.

Incidentally, I forgot to mention (despite my rather long ramble) that the audio quality of AirPlay streaming should be lossless (as it uses ALAC for encoding its audio streams), but is limited to 16bit/44.1kHz CD-res ('HD' in Amazon speak). This of course assumes the app that you are using it with is playing lossless audio file tracks in the first place, which according to Amazon, its Amazon Music iOS app is:

Which iOS devices support Amazon Music HD?​

Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment. In order to play songs at higher sample rates (96 or 192 kHz), iPhone customers can connect an external DAC capable of supporting those higher sample rates.

Apple AirPlay supports HD quality playback.
 
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