Before I bought my Nova I used a Chromecast Audio for streaming purposes. Obviously it was not the highest possible fi - but via Toslink into a DacMagic it made music that was, at the very least, acceptable. Even today I still use it in other ways - in the back of a bluetooth speaker or even taking it with me when visiting less tech savvy people (ie my sister!). And it cost me £30 brand new!
So my question is this: -
- Is the Chromecast Audio the best value piece of hi fi equipment of all time?
Supplementary questions: -
- If it is not the best value then what is/was?
- Was it discontinued because it was diverting sales from more expensive (and thus more profitable) equipment?
I await your thoughts with interest.
Sorry Nigel. My post posted itself while I was trying to type it!
Yes, it is. I used to feed my SuperNait 1 dac by it.
IMO, the Squeezebox Touch / LMS platform ranks on top and was years ahead of its time. Quite a shame Logitech discontinued it however it’s still supported by a loyal development base.
As an Apple user I found the Airport Express to be a similarly useful device in that it allowed you to cast music to a DAC via Toslink (or analogue but with really poor sound). It possibly doesn’t have the extra versatility of a CCA but it has other uses as a network range extender so there are pros and cons to each device.
I don’t particularly like the fact that the CCA gives Google yet more data harvesting opportunities, so in that respect I prefer the AE too.
We’ll probably never know why Google discontinued the CCA. I can’t imagine it was anything to do with it affecting sales of more expensive kit as Google don’t make any.
Well… they don’t make anything of interest to an audiophile. I was thinking of stuff like Google Assistant, Nest, Audio Anywhere etc.
It is very difficult to define “value” in this context…
In terms of sound generally I’d be inclined to propose full size transmission line speakers such as from IMF, or PMC’s larger models (above Twenty-whatever series), as excellent value, especially if bought secondhand, because they transform the sound character of a system. However, whilst Chord Dave DAC costs a staggering amount of money, its amazing sound quality to me made it very much worth it: it gave the biggest single leap in sound quality I’ve ever heard in a hifi system, which makes it incredible value, and value for money whatever the magnitude of cost (so compelling, once heard I had to buy).
I think I’d go a different way. To me the biggest value audio component would be a tie for every entry level bit of real separates. The sort of gear where you get a streamer, integrated amp, and pair of speakers for something like $250 each and the dealer throws in some starter speaker cable.
The reason is that of all the jumps in quality you can make, that first step on the lowest rung of the real hifi separates ladder up from a bare iPhone or boombox iPod dock (even pricey ones like a Muso) is the biggest jump you’ll ever get. It’s the one where the world of music is suddenly busted wide open for you.
Whether you plug in a low cost Chromecast Audio or something else really depends on having that first leap already made. I find those budget (but real) systems to be nothing short of life changing for first time buyers.
The CCA for me is one of the most useful pieces of equipment I own. For scenarios where you don’t want a full HiFi installation and just want some no-frills music they are ideal. I bought x4 of them when you could get them for £25.
Main ones I use are…
Garage - fed into a Topping VX2 amplifier with in-ceiling speakers
Garden - fed into a Nobsound NS-10G amplifier with outdoor-rated weatherproof speakers
They are used solely with ROON and perfect for when you want to “group” your speakers and play the same music everywhere in the house.
I don’t know of any better audio component for the price. When it came out the CCA must have provoked nightmares to audio manufacturers. Now wait until someone come out with a CCA priced DAC that would outperform something like a Chord Dave
I agree and still use the open source LMS platform with my Allo DigiOne signature. It does everything I could possibly need flawlessly.
My best audio value ever was the addition of a Naim Uniti Atom Integrated Amplifier, a pair of KEF Meta LS speakers and a JL Subwoofer. This system is such an improvement compared to anything I tried before, particularly for the money spent. I have played CDs I had and used streamed music from Tidal and I keep getting surprised at sounds and details I had not heard before. For example, I played Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters and it was unbelievable! Best money spent!
Rega P3/Planar 3, even a first generation example with a good cartridge will sound great.
An awesome combination which I was lucky enough to hear (quite) a few years ago. I don’t remember them being tremendously cheap though!
Paired with a decent turntable like a Rega P9 the 52/135s will give you a truly top flight experience for relatively small outlay - in my experience it is up there with the best in terms of pure involvement.
Best audio value for me was the purchase of decent set of speakers for my cassette deck in the car. It started me on the path of realising the space you are playing it in is the key to good sound. The addition of a separate amp to drive the base and treble cones was the icing on the hifi cake. Lessons learn’t transferred into the living room and Naim and I have had a continuous relationship since.
Even better than that, I bought a pair of active, wall mounted speakers with the amp and streamer built into one speaker (so not truly active) for our garden room. I paid £79 from Amazon and can honestly say that performance wise it’s like owning 135’s into Kans. Not the last word in bass but sending Qobuz via Bluetooth the sound is just wonderful and the best ‘bang for buck’ I’ve ever had.
That’s the beauty of naim - you get that transistor radio small speaker speed at big scale.
I still love listening to my little radio when gardening, and I get the same fun from the naim… with all the other good stuff that good hi-fi should bring