"Roon Ready" versus "Chromecast built-in"?

We were discussing this in another thread, and it got me thinking about whether “Chromecast built-in” is really Roon Ready in another guise. In other words, what’s the difference?

Here’s what I understand from past discussions in the forum: In use with Chromecast, Roon downloads their own code to the device, which then runs in some kind of Chrome technology “container” inside the device and is allowed to manipulate the functionality of the device within certain limits imposed by the API which the container exposes. So there’s Roon code running on both sides of the network connection between the Core and the device, and it has access (admittedly stylized and not that specific) to the internal functionality of the device. There are restrictions on the bandwidth you can use, but apparently 24/48 is always supported, and 24/96 can be supported (presumably the device manufacturer controls this). Voice control (either through the device itself, if it contains a microphone, or through a third party device like a Nest Home) is supported for basic functions: volume control, pause/play, and next/previous. The quality of all of this is up to the device manufacturer’s integration of the Chrome container, presumably, and Roon doesn’t get to work with them to qualify the implementation, which is a real downside.

With Roon Ready, on the other hand, you get better integration with the hardware – the Roon code doesn’t have to work through the generic API provided by a Chrome container – though it’s not clear to me how well thought out the device manufacturers’ own APIs are. The bandwidth limitations are presumably lifted. And Roon gets a chance to work with the manufacturer to make sure things work well – though it seems some manufacturers jump the gun.

But on the whole, the Chromecast built-in seems to compete fairly well with Roon Ready. And compared to an outboard streamer running Roon Bridge and feeding bits to the devices via S/PDIF or USB, it seems like a win, RAAT or no RAAT.

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Roon Ready means that there is a certified implementation of RAAT running on the end device. And RAAT goes beyond audio to do things like two-way control integration.

Right. But so does Chromecast built-in, within limits. My notion is that the Chromecast integration is probably very much like a Javascript implementation of RAAT, within the limitations of the Chrome container.

My question is, what specific affordances does the Roon Ready two-way control integration provide, even if only in some cases, that aren’t available in the Chromecast built-in integration?

Hi Bill,
Your discussion is certainly relevant to my situation. I recently purchased a Pioneer Elite AVR with Chromecast built-in, and ROON recognizes it as “ROON Tested”. I assumed that the Chromecast was extremely limited in the resolution it could decode, otherwise it would have possibly been “ROON Ready”. And yet, in the “Setup” configuration ROON allows me to configure the Pioneer as an MQA renderer/decoder. In fact if I select the default settings, ROON chooses “MQA renderer” as its choice. To me, that either means ROON sees the Chromecast built-in as a 24/96 decoder or, if not, it can still accept the rendered MQA content succesfully. Pioneer support is completely cluless on the subject. In any case, I have ordered the Chromecast Audio “puck” from ebay to connect to the AVR optical input to see if I can hear any audible difference from the built-in version.
Thanks,
Kim

Right now, I’m playing the soundtrack from Ken Burns’s “Country Music” series over a Google Nest Home ($25 at the Google store right now, I just looked) with Roon. Most of the songs on that were released in mono to begin with, so even though it’s possible to set up two of these Homes to work in stereo, I haven’t bothered. I have volume control from my Roon remote, but I can also say to the speaker, “Hey Google, volume up (or down)”. I can say “pause” or “next”, or “previous” if I want to hear a song again. I can group multiple of them together, in different rooms, and Roon will keep them all sync’ed up. And for the privacy-minded, there’s a button to turn off the microphone to use it as a pure active speaker.

Admittedly, not the best sound fidelity, with a 2" speaker and the built-in DAC and amp. But it’s country music, designed to be played over a transistor in the barn or the car radio in a pickup, so it’s fine.

Roon ready every time, Chromecast really doesn’t sound as good at all and I can do both to my main system. According to Naim it’s a resource hog memory wise and seems to use all the resources their streaming section has, unlike Airplay, RAAT or UPnP. Roon Ready can play any Res my system supports, Via Chromecast it limits it to 48/24 when it capable of higher. Roon insists on only supporting the metadata flags that very few seem to implement. Chromecasting isn’t instant on any of the devices I have that support it either and I have had issues with gapless. It’s good for convenience on cheap wireless speakers but nothing more. RAAT it really isn’t in my experience.

Yes, that seems to be the main limitation.

Could you say more about that? Are you talking about some metadata flags that the device is supposed to implement?

Interesting. Wonder why they bother with it, then?

Interesting, I don’t see that in my setup.

Yes, there was some kind of bug, but I understand that has been fixed. Should test it.

There is a hires metadata flag that is used in the original Audios and I guess the API to indicate it’s capable of hires. Most devices I have encountered and many that users bring up on here won’t support higher via Roon due to this even though Chromecast on these devices can as they dont use this flag in the discovery of them.

They added it as it was requested by their customers and to be competitive they needed to. It’s fine line I guess . They choose the components based on what works best for the majority of scenarios and their defacto playback. It’s better with Roon than say using Qobuz.app but it’s far from the best the device can offer from a user experience and sound.

I think Chromecast built in is definitely not as smooth as their own implementations as they are built with Chromecast in mind, others it’s an another selling point. But I am sure it varies from device to device. My cc audio works well apart from it doesn’t always start properly first time you play, my shield and TV are horrid, the Naim Atom again so clunky, my JBL Link is slow to start playback but works well overall as it’s just a speaker this is the one I use most.

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Absolutely.

Where is this limitation coming from? Chromecast Audio supports up to 96/24 and Roon is using that in my setup.

Read my post above. Official Chromecast audios do, not all built in do due to the hires flag not being present. This is the case for my Atom and JBL Speaker that supports 96/24 .

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Chromecast Audio is a specific device, a specific implementation of “Chromecast built-in”, done by Google, so you’d figure they’d get it right.

Exactly and this is what Roon used to base their implementation on, but unfortunately not all devices that have cc built in follow that implemention to the letter.

Oh, got it. I thought (hoped?) Chromecast spec required a minimum resolution. Thanks @CrystalGipsy and @Bill_Janssen.

At least Google’s Chromecast works with Roon whereas Amazon’s line of Echo devices does not.

Back on topic I agree that Roon Ready is superior to Chromecast, just Roon Ready is superior to Airplay, Roon Tested and Roon’s Squeezebox support. Roon Ready Rocks!

I am just happy it supports them all as it’s allowed my to build a large audio eco system at home without a huge expense and I use them all except airplay in some shape or form.

Sorry about my previous post. I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t using all the various ways that Roon supports for playing music, just that Roon Ready is the best one. I also have a large audio eco system throughout my house with 5 Roon Ready endpoints, 4 Squeezebox endpoints, lots of phones and tablets that besides being used for control can also be used for playback and 4 Chromecast devices (which I don’t tend to use for playback, although the ones connected to a TV make great Roon “now playing” displays). Roon does provide lots of ways to listen to music and all with one common control interface, which is very good thing.

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Again, a scalar measurement in a vector space. I’m trying to figure out the various dimensions of that space, so specifics about why why you believe it superior would be very helpful.

For instance, the voice command capability in these smart speakers seems a clear advantage of Chromecast built-in, while the ability to handle increased resolution seems a clear avantage of Roon Ready.

That’s probably the 24/48 that they all seem to support.

Here’s one: none of the four Chromecast devices (two Google Chromecasts, a Chromecast Audio and an LG soundbar with Chromecast) have support for an Ethernet connection, in other words they are all Wi-Fi only. Whereas all of my Roon Ready devices are connected via Ethernet. Ethernet is far superior to Wi-Fi for music (and video) streaming, maybe not as far as sound quality is concerned but definitely as far as reliability is concerned. Think no drop outs.

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