Chromecast Audio is just like Chromecast but for audio. It’s a small device that plugs into your speakers for streaming music through a Wi-Fi connection not a Bluetooth connection. It shares a similar design as the 2015 Chromecast as it looks like a hockey puck and it still requires a micro USB cable to power the device. But instead of an HDMI cable, you have this 3.5mm audio jack that plugs directly into the speaker of your choice. The general idea is that Chromecast Audio will transform your connected dumb speakers into connected smart speakers.
So once again, I’ll walk you through the steps of connecting a Chromecast Audio. All you will need to do is plug the 3.5mm headphone jack into your speakers of choice and plug the micro USB charging cable into the Chromecast Audio itself and you’re 95% done.
You will then need to connect the device to the Chromecast app, which has been updated. It offers a lot more functionality than previous versions. For example, you have three tabs: a What’s On tab that presents various content to cast as well as various apps to cast content from, a Get Apps tab that presents various apps that are compatible with Chromecast and there is a lot of them, which is really good to see. Nowhere near as many as audio-only streaming apps as video streaming apps but that is understandable. Some of the apps compatible with audio-only streaming include RDO, Rhapsody, Songza, TuneIn Radio, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Downcast, and Deezer. It’s not compatible with iTunes or Apple Music though which may be a deal breaker for a lot of you.
The third tab is the Devices tab, which will conveniently show you which Chromecast you have connected here. You also have the option to change the volume of whatever you are casting from the Chromecast app itself meaning you can still play music from your smartphone or tablet without it affecting phone calls or media playback on your mobile device.
As far as how the Chromecast Audio performs, it’s really hard to show you but I can tell you that it works really well. Sound quality far surpasses that of Bluetooth and the range is unrivaled. The typical range of a Bluetooth music receiver is about 30 feet. The range of a Chromecast Audio is only limited to the range of your Wi-Fi signal. In my case, I have Wi-Fi throughout my entire home, meaning I can stream music to a stereo or a speaker from anywhere in my home. One disappointment is that you can’t stream multiple speakers at the same time. But apparently, an update is coming with that functionality which is super exciting.
Overall, out of the two Chromecast devices released this year, I do prefer the Chromecast Audio simply because I listen to music more than I watch Netflix. In my mind, this device should have been released alongside the original Chromecast about two years ago. But hey, it’s better late than never.
For $35, I think the Chromecast Audio is a must-have device for anyone who loves to listen to music out loud and in the comfort of your own home. For only $35, it would also make for a fantastic gift for the holidays as well.