The Google Chromecast Audio was released back in September as a companion to the new Chromecast. Rather than focusing on making it cheap and easy to get video content up on the big screen, the Audio is design solely for streaming music, podcasts, and anything else that has to do with audio. It allows you to stream music to your speakers that have the device plugged in, via Wi-Fi, and does not used Bluetooth, all whilst keeping the same quality, up to the standard of Hi-Fi.
Pairing the Chromecast Audio with my LG G3, iPad Mini, and Nexus 5, was very simple, just download the app and follow the on-screen instructions. On my Chromebook it was very similar, but was slightly more difficult requiring a plug-in and the extension from the Chrome Web Store, but once this was done, it did not take long. I was quite impressed with the ease of setting it up.
Once set up, I could use apps such as YouTube, Google Play Music, and Spotify, on mobile or web to stream to my Logitech, and dancing water speakers. The sound quality was more or less the same as if I had plugged my laptop or phone into the speakers directly, which again impressed me.
It’s very easy to stream the music, with only the need to press the ‘Cast’ button on the platform you are streaming the music, and away you go.
What impressed me even more, was the fact that my phone could be charged in the dining room, me and my Moto 360 could be and the living room, with the Chromecast Audio and speakers upstairs in my bedroom; and I could start the music on my phone, have it stream to the speakers, and control it from my watch, all simultaneously!
The Chromecast Audio will work on any speaker, and requires little interaction as long as you keep the device turned on. Turn the Chromecast Audio off, and well… problems arise. For some it may be as simple as turning it back on and it will connect automatically back to the Wi-Fi, but as Sod’s Law will have it, that wasn’t the case for me. After turning the Chromecast Audio back on, it would not connect to the Wi-Fi again. Heck, it couldn’t even find the Wi-Fi with me holding down the button and restarting it again. I was left with only one choice to un-register and re-register. This meant I had to set up the Chromecast Audio from scratch. Luckily this only happened once, but it really let me down because so far the new device had impressed me.
Visually, the Chromecast Audio is flawless. The back of the device is similar to that of the Nexus 5. The front, is a group of circles, decreasing in size with the Chrome logo in the very middle. It even calls out it’s roots in audio by looking a lot like a record. The size of the device is not much bigger than my Moto 360, so is very easy to tuck away if you want it out the way of your speakers. The device comes with a bright green cable, which some might find disconcerting, but I find awesome! The cable is very short, so I just used the joiner cable I use for my Logitech and water speakers and plugged that into the Chromecast Audio like I would any other device. This is a feature I was very fond of.
Another feature worth mentioning is that you can have multiple Chromecast Audio units plugged into multiple speakers throughout your home and play the same audio simultaneously through them. This feature wasn’t available at launch, but was later enabled and while I wasn’t able to test it, it is a great addition to an already great product.
Apart from the Chromecast Audio letting me down when I powered it down, I was overall very impressed with the device, and I think it is perfect for the average, music-loving consumer with £30 ($35) to spare.