Bluetooth is great for portable speakers, but in terms of home audio, where your speakers often stay put and you need the freedom to roam from room to room or level to level, a Bluetooth connection just isn’t stable enough.
So when Google announced that the second generation of Chromecast would have its own audio-specific iteration, we were ecstatic.
$60 for a device that’ll turn any of your existing home audio systems into a Sonos-like Wi-Fi sound system has the potential to be a godsend.
For the most part, the Chromecast Audio lives up to its potential. It’s a compact micro USB-powered dongle that connects through a 3.5mm AUX jack to your Hi-Fi system and wirelessly to your Wi-Fi, allowing you to cast music seamlessly from a number of leading music streaming and media server apps.
With a handful of excellent additional features, including the ability to daisy-chain multiple Chromecasts, play music while using other applications (you can even make calls without interrupting music playback) and stream from any room in the house, it’s hard to fault the Chromecast Audio.
Though the calibre of apps that will stream to the Chromecast Audio is good, there were only nine available in Australia at the time of writing — a figure that will inevitably grow with time.
But not having the ability to stream from locked-down Airplay iOS apps like Apple Music will be a disappointment for many.
On the whole, Google’s experience with video streaming has paid off, with the Chromecast Audio maintaining impeccable performance from anywhere the smartphone can pick up your Wi-Fi signal and facilitating a connection that was notably easier to use and more precise than Bluetooth alternatives.
For $60, the Chromecast audio is truly excellent, we just wish it had a couple more apps.