Question

I guess I don't get Chromecast Audio

  • 14 December 2015
  • 63 replies
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OK, I have a 3 Sonos zones in my house along with the 5.1 system. What I'm struggling with is what seems to be gross ignorance in the press that writes about Sonos vs. Chromecast Audio. I don't have CCA but I have read quite a bit about it. I get that conceptually, from a 50,000 foot view, they do similar things but when you look at the details I don't see how it's even close. With Sonos you get a complete, high quality, integrated ecosystem. I can leave all my speakers ON and fill the house with music in seconds. I can actually have L/R (bonded) speaker pairs. Can CCA even do this? All speaker volumes are sync'd, not from just the app but from the speakers themselves. I can do 5.1 AND have it do double duty as standard audio. The Sonos system can run on wifi OR Sonosnet - unimpacted by other wifi usage. Sonosnet extends the reach of your system automatically allowing speakers to be placed far beyond the reach of your WiFi signal.
What are the CCA folks using for speakers - cheap Bluetooth mono's, all within wifi range? Do they even care about stereo? If you're leveraging passive speakers don't you have to run around and fire up your AV receiver or amps to boot the CCA system up? Are people using a mish mash of speakers in a house all colliding on wifi with your kids gaming and Netflix streaming? What happens in CCA if someone changes the volume knob on one speaker in a group, doesn't that get it out of sync with the others?
Again, I get the CCA theory, I just see a big difference in implementation. I don't get a system that doesn't even allow for stereo - something people had 70 years ago. What am I missing?

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CCA is not that different than a Connect. You can plug CCA directly into an amp that powers speakers using either RCA or Optical inputs. Not sure why you think CCA is mono only: It is stereo too. You might want to go to the Google spec site and investigate on your own. In addition Google did a update last week that provides support for synched multi room audio and also lossless 24BIT audio. If you have a router built to latest specs (802.11ac) you don't have the issues you speak of. Pretty sure this is why SONOS created a software version of the bridge because the spec has caught up to the needs of the network finally. I can have run 30 torrents running, watch Netflix and have Sonos playing without any network problems.

CCA Audio Specs:
Output:
- Stereo analog output [2Vrms]
- Optical digital output
- High-Resolution Audio: 96KHz/24-bit
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With CCA can I have 2 powered speakers "bound" as L/R for stereo sound (i.e. no AV Receiver)?
Can CCA do 5.1 off my TV w/o an A/V Receiver?
Can CCA extend my wireless audio system beyond normal WiFi range?
If I physically change the volume control on a CCA powered speaker is that change limited to just that speaker?
With CCA I also have to have another A/C outlet near a powered speaker to power the dongle - right?

I didn't see any reference to this in the docs and was wondering if these are differentiates from Sonos.
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You are comparing apples to oranges. You wouldn't use a Connect to drive a powered speaker. Unless you had more money to spend than you knew what to do with. CCA is also not for 5.1 without an AV receiver. It's for audio and for that purpose it works great. And it does so at 1/10 the cost of a Connect with better audio resolution.

CCA or SONOS is not for everybody. Use the solution that fits your needs. if you are not rich and all you want to do is be able to play your music through any audio equipment you already own then CCA is probably a better solution. If you need/want all of the refinements that SONOS has developed over time and can afford the cost of entry then SONOS is maybe the better solution for you. Based on what ever your needs are one system will be better for you than the other. For me for instance I primarily use Connects and Connect amps. I have a lot of my speakers in wall so the powered speakers wouldn't be the choice I would make for myself. SONOS offers a lot of flexibility for a lot different configurations but their Connects have always been overpriced. Admittedly because they are probably targeting the audiophile market.
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CCA - some built in flexibility with native apps providing the interface. We don't know how well it does multiroom - just that for now you have to make up some pre-planned groups. Of course some sonos users have asked for sonos to provide pre-planned groups. Uses home wifi. Low cost. Quality is dependent on the speaker added to.

Sonos - ease of use with unified interface for all services (less learning curve per service). Rock solid multiroom with flexible grouping. has advantage of Sonosnet mesh providing ability to offload music from home wifi. Cost much higher. Great built in speakers.
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Actually I think we're in agreement. My beef was with so called tech writers who compare the two as apples to apples.
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and yes connect is pricey for what is does but it is not the same a a google cast dongle (for starters the google cast dongle has no input or Sonosnet mesh network repeater). You would think from the way people write about it they do the exact same thing.
It might be that WiFi is now more capable than it was when Sonos net was invented and CC can cope adequately in more cases now; it does offer a wired option too.

Functionally it now does almost all that Sonos does, and arguably does grouping in a better way by allowing the creation of permanent groups.

I found that the CCA user interface is clunky compared to Sonos, for starting and changing music streams. I also find the start/stop/volume buttons on Sonos units to be extremely useful for the way I use Sonos with long shuffled playlists. Starting and stopping music is easily and quickly done without starting by finding where the handheld is and then invoking the app on a sleeping one. Much more convenient.

I don't hear any value in hi res, but CC can be used flexibly with active speaker pairs of any standard, even ones that are superior to any that Sonos makes at this time.

I still prefer Sonos for how slick it is to operate, but CC is now a viable competitor, no doubt about that.

I won't speak to 5.1, I have no interest in HT, so I don't know enough on that.
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CCA allows you to use any speaker you want to turn into a simple multi room setup. CCA works with spotify connect! Which gives an infinitely better experience when using spotify. CCA is 25 pounds, the amp is 335 pounds.

I dare say in time CCA will develop to the point where you can do 5.1 surround sound and stereo and other wonderful things at a fraction of the cost. Sonos if you can afford it still offers a wonderful experience, but sonos had better watch out! There are more and more wifi receivers coming out offering BYO speakers to the party. My prime interest with sonos is their integration to smartthings. Would be great if they supported homekit!
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and yes connect is pricey for what is does but it is not the same a a google cast dongle (for starters the google cast dongle has no input or Sonosnet mesh network repeater). You would think from the way people write about it they do the exact same thing.

Have to admit though, it reinforces the question of why Sonos continues to price gouge the Connect. If GCC can offer 24 bit hi rez at one tenth the priice, how does one justify a Connect? Lets take our Sonos fanboy hats off ( I am one of them) and ask seriously what a few inputs are worth, realistically. It is not like the connect has a great DAC either to justify its cost. There was a time when Sonos was the only real option and this pricing was understandable. I don't fault Sonos for recovering system R&D via higher margin products as the Connect surely is. With all the competition at Sonos doorstep these days it is time to retire the Connect and replace it with a fair priced ($99) offering.. First, it may attract new users to the Sonos system and my guess is that these new users will buy Play speakers to build their multi- room capability because a product such as the Play 1 stands alone for value, sound quality, and of course the Sonos system.u
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It's not what it's worth it is what people are willing to pay. Also economics of scale factor in too as I'm sure Google is selling these in the millions. I don't know how many connects Sonos sells a year but your talking thousands. But I do agree that in TODAYs market the price point of a connect is probably more in the $150 range. I think if they want to maintain that price they need to up the features (such as digital input and 5.1 decoding to create a 5.1 system out of plays). Features such as that could help justify the higher price tag.
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It's not what it's worth it is what people are willing to pay.


I was after a Connect last year, but because of the silly price, bought a Play:5 instead (even though I didn't strictly need a speaker) and used its line-in. Result for Sonos!

Today, I wouldn't mind a couple of Connects, but because of the price I'll probably not buy anything. I've plenty of cash so could pay the price but, frankly, the pricing seems like a scam, so I won't bother.

I'm sure there are plenty like me who feel similar, and equally sure there are plenty of others who'll pony up the money.

However, better than (or in addition to) dramatically dropping the Connect price, would be to provide native Google Cast API support, so I could cast to Sonos from a bunch of different apps. I live in (very, very minor) hope!
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We hope Google native cast can come to all devices
A $99 Connect with optical + Analog inputs and Google Cast Audio support would sell very well, especially if it was the only Sonos device with GCA support. Very similar to the old Dock.
Come to think of it, a $99 Connect with analog + optical input and a USB port to power the Chromecast Audio hockey puck would no doubt sell very well, especially if it down sampled any "high res" input. The optical input would also work with Airport Express.
Would the said Connect not damage play unit sales, particularly those of the new 5?

Sonos has a strategic choice before it, and any choices about Connect pricing/positioning would have to align with that decision, imo.
Not nearly as many speaker sales will be lost to a $99 Connect as will be lost to $35 Chromecast Audios, don't you think? Dunno, glad I'm not in Sonos marketing right now, though! 😉
Not nearly as many speaker sales will be lost to a $99 Connect as will be lost to $35 Chromecast Audios, don't you think? Dunno, glad I'm not in Sonos marketing right now, though! ;)
I take your point but consider this: the Sonos user experience via the Connect is in many ways much better than that via CCA/third party kit, even if basic functionality is similar. A lower priced Connect will allow users to access this experience in full, but free to choose any of the vast range of non-Sonos downstream kit out there, undercutting the sale of Sonos play units.
A good decision will need a lot more market data than what we can have access to, and some playing around with different scenarios to see what yields the best net outcome for Sonos - Sonos marketing will earn their pay if they make the right calls, for sure.
I just purchases the Play 1 Starter Kit as my first Sonos speakers. These will be paired in my Family Room. I plan on added more later to some other rooms. I currently have a basement Media/Bar room with tower speakers as part of a 7.1 setup. If the Connect was cheaper I would purchase to have all rooms under one product brand. The current price of the Chromecast Audio makes it worth using the two different systems, especially since I would only be using in this one room.
Yeah, that's a calculation lots of folks will be making, I think. Will be interesting to see how Sonos responds, and how soon.

I bought a pair of CCA's "just because", something that would not be economically feasible with a pair of Connects.
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Yes, CCA is serving a good function as a competitor to Sonos (on a certain level) and Connect is one of the first things that needs to be addressed. More radically though, I have pretty much given up on my A/V receiver, amps and passive speaker setups in favor of distributed, networked audio (aka Sonos), i.e. Connect has no relevance to me anymore.
More radically though, I have pretty much given up on my A/V receiver, amps and passive speaker setups in favor of distributed, networked audio (aka Sonos), i.e. Connect has no relevance to me anymore.

x2. I used to have a connect on my wish list. i got rid of the (budget) receiver and speakers instead.
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I just think that paradigm is passé for me and that distributed audio is the way to go. Honestly, I have SDA SRS speakers, Onkyo A/V, Audire amps and SVS subwoofers. I have to go to a specific location fire up the receiver, fire up the amps, fire up the projector, fire up the CD player, etc. Now, I stream it all from my phone or pc right to the Sonos system in a matter of seconds - anywhere in the house. Some may argue that the Sonos, or other powered speakers are inferior to top flight, floor standing passive speakers. Maybe so, but I've have all that too and the Play 5's holds their own against my "classic" system and is much more flexible and convenient.
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I have a Chromecast plugged into the Line-In of a Play 5 in my Kitchen 🙂

There are no limits in my house 🙂
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And another thing to add...
For the last 3 years, I've had a Sonos Amp powering two very nice Paradigm bookshelf speakers ontop of my cabinets in the Kitchen.

I replaced the Paradigms this morning with two of the new Play:5's. The two Play:5's sound better than the two Paradigms w/Amp.
Everyone in the house, Wife and Grandparents concurred that the Play5's were better than the Paradigms.

Just to note, two Play:5's in Stereo we're cheaper than the Sonos:Amp with 2 Paradigms.

And now I have two Line-In's including Chromecast 🙂 My wife can play any podcast or video audio from her smart phone. A nice gap for services that Sonos' doesn't support.
. The two Play:5's sound better than the two Paradigms w/Amp.
Everyone in the house, Wife and Grandparents concurred that the Play5's were better than the Paradigms.

Just to note, two Play:5's in Stereo we're cheaper than the Sonos:Amp with 2 Paradigms.


I am not surprised. The new play 5 units are hifi speakers in every way except perhaps in looks and brand association. And I now don't see much point in the Connect Amp unless one has a spare pair of decent passive speakers on hand.

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