Chromecast Audio review

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The Chromecast Audio is the perfect device for those wanting to stream audio to their speakers or other audio equipment. Google only upgrades its Chromecast lineup every so often and the Chromecast (2015) was one of our favorite accessories of 2015. With the Chromecast Audio, Google put its aim toward a slightly different audience. Rather than an accessory for video streaming on your TV, the Chromecast Audio focuses on just audio streaming.

Since its launch, many have asked me “is the Chromecast Audio really worth it?” You’re about to find out.

Overview

The Chromecast Audio offers an experience quite similar to the standard Chromecast — easy to set up, works with almost every device imaginable, and does exactly what it’s meant to do. If you’re looking for an easy way to stream your favorite music and/or audio to speakers that don’t need replacing, this is all you need.

Inside the box you’ll get the Chromecast Audio itself, a short 3.5mm headphone jack which has connectors on both ends, and a charging cable with a wall adapter. The only manual that’s included is the wrapping that stretches around the box. On there you’ll find a list of compatible devices, supported apps, some capabilities and a quick start guide for instructions.

Setup

For the setup you’ll need to have a power source for your Chromecast, a stable WiFi connection, a pair of speakers that support either 3.5mm, RCA or optical output, and a compatible smartphone or tablet. The Chromecast Audio works on most Android devices as well as iOS devices, Chromebooks, Macs and Windows PCs.

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You can start by plugging your Chromecast Audio into the source you want to output audio from. Then plug in the charging cable to the dongle and connect it to a power source. You’ll notice the Chromecast Audio lights up with a white LED once both are connected.

Next off you’ll need to download the Chromecast app on your phone or tablet. Upon opening the app, you’ll have to connect both the Chromecast Audio and your device to the same network. Since you’ll be casting over WiFi, the Chromecast Audio and your device need to communicate, which is done through the same network. If you have guests over who want to cast, make sure you have your WiFi PIN or password on hand or just activate the guest mode.

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Once both are connected, your device will start searching for Google Cast-enabled devices on your network. This can take a few minutes, so be patient. To confirm that it’s your device and that it’s working properly, a sound will play, which must be confirmed in the app. Make sure your connected audio equipment’s volume is not set to mute or off prior to this step.

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Once recognized, you’ll be brought to a page with a list of downloaded apps that support casting audio. If you have other Google Cast-enabled devices on your network, you’ll see them under the Devices tab. This is where you’ll be able to customize the name of your Chromecast or other Google Cast-enabled device and set a background picture. Here you’ll also be able to manage guest mode and the device’s settings. The last tab from the right displays a selection of apps that can take advantage of your Chromecast Audio in which Google recommends you to download.

Now you’re all set! A cast icon will now appear throughout the interface and inside supported apps, thus indicating you can cast audio from your connected device to your audio equipment. Simply tap on the cast icon, select the name of your device, and the audio will automatically begin playing in high fidelity streaming audio from the cloud. You can also go through the Chromecast app to begin streaming audio if you navigate to the Cast screen / audio section. If you have any other questions or concerns, check out both the Learn and Help & feedback sections in the Chromecast app. And if you’re lucky, just above these options you’ll find an Offers button that brings you to a page of claimable offers in thanks from Google for buying and setting up your Chromecast Audio.

Functionality

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Like previously mentioned, the Chromecast Audio can be a handy device for the right person. With this $35 dongle, there’s no need to go out and buy brand new costly audio equipment for wireless streaming.

One of the best features is being able to share the ability to cast with your friends and family. It’s great for get-togethers and gatherings in your home. Best of all, it’s easy to do and doesn’t require much extra setup.

Just recently, Google pushed out an update to the Chromecast Audio that allows you to link multiple dongles together on the same wireless network. This brings the sound to all the rooms in your home. With just the tap of a (digital) button, you can have the same song play all throughout your home and even outdoors. Up to five Chromecast Audio’s can be connected at once. Background play also works for some apps letting you use your phone and cast to your Chromecast at the same time with no interference. So if you get a call, the casting will continue while you talk on the phone. The same works for incoming messages and notifications. Most other functions on your phone or tablet will also work while the cast is in session.

Closing

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The Chromecast Audio is one of my favorite accessories ever released. For only $35, audio streaming is put into the palm of your hands with no wires, no buffering and no delays. It supports exceptional quality and works very seamlessly. Google took it a step further by introducing a new design that’s super portable and added new features such as multi-room support and the ability for guests to get in on the fun with very little hassle. Nearly everything you need is included right in the box assuming you have a stable Wi-Fi connection and compatible audio equipment to cast to. If you’re in the market for such a device, I promise that the Chromecast Audio will satisfy your needs.

[Google Store] [Best Buy]


About the Author: Doug Demagistris

Doug was raised in New York and currently attends Muhlenberg College where he is majoring in Accounting. He has been a die-hard Google and Android enthusiast ever since he purchased the Samsung Galaxy Vibrant. Doug strongly prefers Android over competitors for its customization, flat Material Design and exceptional integration with Google Services. Currently, Doug switches between the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Nexus 5X, and travels with a Nexus 9. In addition, Doug wears an Android Wear smartwatch and has other gadgets such as a Nexus Player and Cardboard viewer. Aside from writing with Talk Android, Doug enjoys testing new applications, designing concepts and studying Android application development all while attempting to keep up with the rapid world of technology. He’s hopeful that his high productivity will make lives easier and more meaningful. Doug’s dream is to attend Google I/O.


  • primalxconvoy

    This seems to be what the ill fated Google sphere doohickey was trying to be (but failed).

    If it connects to a standard Hi-fi, then my dad will like this.

    • Lars Jeppesen

      Oh it does

  • EliBook

    Great article Doug. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Chromecast by using UnoTelly or similar tools.