Question Chromecast, Do I need a DAC?

vatir

Standard Member
Hi everyone,

I have a Chromecast which is connected to my Marantz PM4400 which doesn't have an Optical in and currently is connected via 3.5 Jack to RCA.

I mainly use it to stream Spotify Premium and Flac from my Mac.

My question is Will I see any benefit in putting a DAC in the middle? Ie Chromecast to Connect to DAC via TOSLINK Cable and then from DAC to my amp via RCA?

I have a budget of up to £200 - £250 and any advise will be much appreciated.

PS. I've already been recommended yamaha wxc-50.
 

larkone

Member
The DAC in a Chromecast is ok (note not caps). You could connect a DAC to it and with CDs and above there is an appreciable difference, assuming a spend of £100 or more. I have used a MF v-DAC which does sound better. However Spotify Premium is 320kbps so you have already lost over 75% compared to CD (1411kpbs) so little point in spending out on a DAC - the old one of trying to polish brown things.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Note the WXC50 already has Spotify connect built in and can stream your flac through the Yamaha Music-cast system and will replace, not add on to the chromecast.

I use the CCA with an Audio GD dac (dual Wolfson WM8741 dacs) and like the sound better with it.

If you look second hand then at the top of your budget the likes of the Arcam IRDAC II and Audio GD dacs come into play and if you are really lucky a Chord Mojo. Lower down the Dacmagic 100 and Musical Fidelity V-90 dac are also a possibility. However dacs make a small difference to the sound at this level and personal preference will take hold rather than anything that can be described as a "significant" upgrade.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I use mine plugged optically into a marantz pm6005. I find the sound from the marantz dac is a little nicer (even just with spotify)but I should emphasize a little. If I am honest I might get a blind test wrong, however I find marantz a bit warmer sounding so I might get it right.

I wouldn't spend specifically on a dac just for the CCA, I'd probably buy something like a Teufal Connector and get an overall more functional streamer for the money. However, if I needed a dac for any other purpose I'd try get one that has an input for the cca
 

larkone

Member
+1 for Teufel - under-rated devices
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The Chromecast-Audio has BOTH Analog and Digital Optical Out, both from the same connector.

So, you have a choice. While you can use an external DAC, you don't have to. It is not required.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Hoku

Active Member
My experience streaming Tidal was;

Chromecast analogue output - 5/10. Just sounded closed-in, slightly woolly sound. Just no sense of air, space or timing. If that was the only option it wouldn’t have been a keeper.

Tidal using the headphone output of my iPad into an RCA analogue input on my amp - 7/10. Improved on the CCA but certainly lacking still.

Chromecast optical output using my amp’s own DAC. 10/10. Indistinguishable from the CD equivalent. I should add the caveat though that I did also add the Ethernet cable to my router to prevent any compression that might have resulted from WiFi.

So although a DAC is not technically required, in my experience it’s easily the best way of using the Chromecast.

Whether buying a DAC is the best way of going about this or not is up to you as there are plenty of different ways of skinning this particular cat.
 

Paul7777x

Member
You don’t say what your speakers are?

But despite that, I’d still confidently expect your budget to be way better spent on a better amp or speakers than a dac for the the CCA.

The CCA is perfectly good enough for your current set up, and it’ll still remain enjoyable in some thing costing three times as much.

Any dac would be after speakers and amplifier were it my cash. :smashin:
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
Chromecast analogue output - 5/10. Just sounded closed-in, slightly woolly sound. Just no sense of air, space or timing. If that was the only option it wouldn’t have been a keeper.
Theres an option for full dynamic range which is not enabled by default. By default it's turned off as Google claim it suits smaller speakers. It's not the first time I've seen similar descriptions used to describe the sound without the option enabled.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Theres an option for full dynamic range which is not enabled by default. By default it's turned off as Google claim it suits smaller speakers. It's not the first time I've seen similar descriptions used to describe the sound without the option enabled.
Excellent observation
 

vatir

Standard Member
Thanks everyone,
very good insight here.

1) I really don't want to buy a new amp now because I'll be buying something more substantial in the next couple of years so looking for an interim solution for some better quality until then.

2) My speakers are JBL Northridge E30, not the best but I get good sound from them with my amp and turntable.

3) Looking at Teufal, wouldn't CA Magicdac 100 be a better option

4) Of course I have full dynamic range switched on :)

5) does anyone have any experience with wxc-50 to completely replace the CCA?

Thanks :)
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
The full dynamic range function as indicated by Jamie , is a huge improvement. When used optically it is the defaultef,but it has to be selected if you are using the cca internal DAC . And it makes a huge difference. I can agree with the statement that the CCA sounds a little wooly ..but that is without the full dynamic range enabled. I am currently using it with the optical fibre drive into my AVR340,and it is a clear as a bell.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
The wxc50 would replace the CCA for now, using it in fixed output mode as a streamer into any line level input on the amp (cd, tuner aux etc.). In the future, assuming it has the right inputs (only has one analogue input) then you can add a power amp and use it in preamp variable output mode. Something like a second hand Quad 606 would do nicely and drive pretty much any speaker.
 

Paul7777x

Member
Thanks everyone,
very good insight here.

1) I really don't want to buy a new amp now because I'll be buying something more substantial in the next couple of years so looking for an interim solution for some better quality until then.

2) My speakers are JBL Northridge E30, not the best but I get good sound from them with my amp and turntable.

3) Looking at Teufal, wouldn't CA Magicdac 100 be a better option

4) Of course I have full dynamic range switched on :)

5) does anyone have any experience with wxc-50 to completely replace the CCA?

Thanks :)
I’ve had both and the Yamaha is a bit ‘better’ as a streamer. But your amp and speakers will not be able to show the difference (the same goes for any dac upgrade).

The CCA is more than good enough for your current gear.

If you plan to get appreciably better speakers in the future and a power amp to replace the Marantz (or, even better, good active speakers) then the WXC-50 makes good sense. Otherwise I’d save your cash and put it to better use later when upgrading the amp and speakers.
 

vatir

Standard Member
I’ve had both and the Yamaha is a bit ‘better’ as a streamer. But your amp and speakers will not be able to show the difference. The CCA is more than good enough for your current gear.

If you plan to get appreciably better speakers in the future and a power amp to replace the Marantz (or, even better, good active speakers) then the WXC-50 makes good sense. Otherwise I’d save your cash and put it to better use later when upgrading the amp and speakers.
Thanks Paul, I'll definitely be buying a network streamer in the net couple of years too - so I should just stick with the current setup until then I guess.

I can get a MagicDac100 foe £100 from a friend, so you don't think I'll benefit much from it?

thanks again.
 

Paul7777x

Member
Thanks Paul, I'll definitely be buying a network streamer in the net couple of years too - so I should just stick with the current setup until then I guess.

I can get a MagicDac100 foe £100 from a friend, so you don't think I'll benefit much from it?

thanks again.
I think it unlikely. However there’s obviously nothing to stop you trying it.

When you come to upgrade to a better streamer, you’ll likely get most of the money back from the Dacmagic. They tend to keep their price quite well.

What I would very much suggest is a pair of these.

GOLDENJACKS audio attenuator for optimal sound - 2 attenuators supplied | eBay

Both the CCA and the Dacmagic put out 2.1V, but your Marantz only has 150mv inputs. So they’ll be quite swamped.

The reduction of their output by the Goldenjacks will give you much better control of the volume range and may well reduce any ‘hash’ noise introduced by an overload of the PMs input.

I’ve used a pair in several of my hifi’s over the years to good advantage.
 

vatir

Standard Member
I think it unlikely. However there’s obviously nothing to stop you trying it.

When you come to upgrade to a better streamer, you’ll likely get most of the money back from the Dacmagic. They tend to keep their price quite well.

What I would very much suggest is a pair of these.

GOLDENJACKS audio attenuator for optimal sound - 2 attenuators supplied | eBay

Both the CCA and the Dacmagic put out 2.1V, but your Marantz only has 150mv inputs. So they’ll be quite swamped.

The reduction of their output by the Goldenjacks will give you much better control of the volume range and may well reduce any ‘hash’ noise introduced by an overload of the PMs input.

I’ve used a pair in several of my hifi’s over the years to good advantage.
Thanks do you think should pull the plug on my old amp then and get something like a Yamaha rn602?
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I have a question-

You asked would you notice improvement with a dac but did not say what you'd like improved or indeed if there are sound issues,so does it sound good to you? What would you like improved?

The next thing is if you want to just stream on your system you might not need an amplifier system. Look at somewhere like gear4music and plug your CCA directly into a good pair if powered monitors and it may be better. The Yamaha is probably better than the Teufal I mentioned. I currently use the Teufal with a set of jbl lsr305s and find it excellent.

You can try all these for free, Teufal has an eight week trial period, gear4music has a month, you can try at no risk.

The Teufal can accept a USB directly in back and control room app, that's how I play flac from it. I'm sure the Yamaha can do similar
 

vatir

Standard Member
I have a question-

You asked would you notice improvement with a dac but did not say what you'd like improved or indeed if there are sound issues,so does it sound good to you? What would you like improved?

The next thing is if you want to just stream on your system you might not need an amplifier system. Look at somewhere like gear4music and plug your CCA directly into a good pair if powered monitors and it may be better. The Yamaha is probably better than the Teufal I mentioned. I currently use the Teufal with a set of jbl lsr305s and find it excellent.

You can try all these for free, Teufal has an eight week trial period, gear4music has a month, you can try at no risk.

The Teufal can accept a USB directly in back and control room app, that's how I play flac from it. I'm sure the Yamaha can do similar
Thanks, it just sounds a little flat and not all that exciting.

I do need the amp as I use it with my turntable of course.

I first looked at the wxc50 but then rn602 looks good too and also it means I can connect it to the tv too as it has 2 optical in.

Wxc50 £240
Rn602 £300
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I upgraded from a marantz pm4200 to a pm6005 and the difference was substantial, so much so my father started investing in separates system when he heard it.

The Watts thingy can be confusing and sometimes misleading. I cannot comment on either unit you've mentioned, but I'd prefer the bigger unit.

I'd try demo the marantz pm6006, there's loads of places that sell them, also has 2 optical ins for tv and Chromecast.

Another possibility of a good option is an older second hand avr used in stereo mode, many high specced ones a few years old can be bought inexpensive
 

vatir

Standard Member
I upgraded from a marantz pm4200 to a pm6005 and the difference was substantial, so much so my father started investing in separates system when he heard it.

The Watts thingy can be confusing and sometimes misleading. I cannot comment on either unit you've mentioned, but I'd prefer the bigger unit.

I'd try demo the marantz pm6006, there's loads of places that sell them, also has 2 optical ins for tv and Chromecast.

Another possibility of a good option is an older second hand avr used in stereo mode, many high specced ones a few years old can be bought inexpensive
Thanks, I had initially looked at PM6006 and listened to them and they sound really good but how would I then stream my FLAC files to it?

Whereas the RN 602 already has a streamer built in.
I really like both lol
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Thanks, I had initially looked at PM6006 and listened to them and they sound really good but how would I then stream my FLAC files to it?

Whereas the RN 602 already has a streamer built in.
I really like both lol
I may have misunderstood, are you not using your CCA to stream flac also?

Edit- I assume on re read your plugged directly into amp with Mac audio out, does it have a digital out also?

The Yamaha is a more user friendly option
 

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