So, you have an older DAC with only coaxial and optical inputs (SPDIF) and wish you could stream music to it directly from the internet without an expensive streaming add-on. Or, perhaps you have a USB DAC but don’t always want a computer to do your internet streaming bidding. If these scenarios describe you, then you’re really asking, “how do I get a network connection directly to my non-network DAC?”
It’s quite simple and cheap to do. Before we get into the specifics, let’s set some expectations. This is not a substitution if your goal is to have ultimate network and internet music streaming from computers, NAS drives and online music services exploited to their utmost capabilities. For example, this solution does not offer resolutions up to 32 bits / 768kHz, DSD, or full MQA capabilities. Up until June of 2018, such a solution only had humble DLNA/UPnP capabilities with add-on apps and server software. However, it now even has support of Roon making this device a Roon Endpoint for easy playback of locally stored music as well as some online services (additional charges apply to Roon). This “gap” solution offers those with existing USB and or SPDIF DAC’s the ability to stream internet music directly from their computers or the internet at resolutions up to 24 bit / 96kHz, but for those that desire an all-encompassing, no-comprise solution need look no further than our DMS-550, DMS-600, or all-in-one AiOS system.
So, what is this solution? All you need is Chromecast Audio ($35) and the Chromecast Optical Cable ($15). This $50 solution offers a direct from internet* connection feeding digital content directly into your DAC or component with integrated DAC. Some of this content is lossless CD quality FLAC and some can be as high as 24 bit / 96kHz! Using the Chromecast Optical Cable, the signal bypasses the modest DAC inside the Chromecast Audio puck, allowing your DAC to fully decode the pure digital signal. Basically, the Chromecast Audio and cable acts as a conduit of digital content from your wireless network internet connection straight to your DAC. Now products like the DAC-200ts, DMC-600, DMC-600SE, and SI-300.2d can have a wireless network internet connection for a mere $50, enabling them to stream high-resolution digital music up to 24/96 straight into their high-performance DACs and digital ecosystem for true high-end sound. Arguable, now with Roon compatibility this $50 Chromecast solution is even more powerful and user friendly.
Once again, Chromecast Audio won’t turn a USB/SPDIF DAC into a DMS-550, DMS-600 or AiOS network audio player, even with Roon. But, it will enable network audio streaming from Chromecast Audio supported services or Roon Cores using your phone or tablet as a remote to “cast” or serve music directly to your DAC from the Internet. Some supported services include*; Spotify, TIDAL, Pandora, YouTube Music, and Google Play Music. Other services will be added for direct streaming. Additionally, there are countless other services that support the “cast” function without direct streaming, meaning the signal will pass through your phone/tablet, which is not as high quality, but still good. To see the supported music services you can add to your existing DAC, take a look here.
*As of June 2018 Spotify, TIDAL, Pandora, YouTube Music, and Google Play Music are the only service which stream direct form network internet connection and are not routed through a phone or tablet, offering the highest sound quality.
UPDATE: Google will no longer make or support the Chromecast Audio device
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