1 February 2017

REVIEW: Google Chromecast Audio

Speaker upgrade.

Familiar with Google's Chromecast? With that, you stick it into the back of your TV and then you can 'cast' videos, photos, and online streaming media from your phone to the telly, as if it was a smart TV. But imagine if you could do the same with all the music on your phone, to your favourite non-smart stereo system. Now you can. We test the Google Chromecast Audio.

This won't be a long review, because it really doesn't have to be. Just as with the original Chromecast, set up is simple, and in this case even easier. The Google Chromecast Audio is itself a small round hunk of plastic with a 3.5mm headphone port on one side, and a Micro USB port on the other. Plug it in with the USB power adaptor supplied, then, using the included short phono cable, plug it into the Aux-in port on your speakers or stereo system.

After that, you simply need to download and install the Google Home app, or the Chrome extension if you're planning on using your computer to stream music. A test bleeping sound is sent, and if you hear it okay, you're good to go. Following that couple of minutes of set up, you can cast your music files or audio streams to the device in the same way you do YouTube and Netflix videos to the Chromecast.

Google Chromecast Audio uses your home's WiFi network to stream the media, so obviously a good strong signal is always preferable. Unlike the Chromecast for TV, which would occasionally jitter and buffer when in a poor signal area of the house, Chromecast Audio always seemed smooth and clear, even when casting to a speaker in that same dodgy-WiFi area. We don't know if Google have refined their WiFi tech for this product (it has been almost three years since we reviewed the original Chromecast), or if it is due to the fact that music files are usually smaller and therefore quicker to stream, but everything worked glitch free.

If you have a treasured stereo system that was purchased before the wireless revolution, the Google Chromecast Audio is the perfect accessory to compliment it. As it is so small you can easily hide it behind the back of most units, then simply change the input on your system from vinyl or CD (or whatever you hipsters like listening to) to aux and you'll be ready to cast from your phone. We promise we won't tell anyone.

Just like the Chromecast, the Google Chromecast Audio is a cheap answer to upgrading your living room tech to the smart era. Check it out.


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