As promised, Google’s Chromecast Audio now serves as a cheap solution for whole-home audio.
The $35 device, which launched in September, brings Internet music sources such as Pandora and Spotify to any “dumb” speaker over 3.5mm, RCA, or Optical input. Users control playback by opening streaming music apps on a phone, tablet, or PC, and hitting the “Cast” button.
With multiple Chromecast Audio devices, users can now set up groups of rooms through the Chromecast companion app. Each group will then appear as an option when choosing which Chromecast device the music should play on.
Some time next year, multi-room support is also headed to speakers that have Google’s Cast technology built-in, such as LG’s Music Flow and Sony’s SRS-X series, Variety reports. However, it’s unclear whether Google will extend whole-home audio to Chromecast video devices. Doing so would make sense, at least, as many people already have decent sound systems hooked up to their TVs.
Beyond the whole-home audio feature, Google is also adding high-resolution audio support to Chromecast Audio, allowing up to 96KHz/24-bit lossless playback. This could be useful for owners of high-end audio equipment, but you’d still need a streaming service that supported this type of playback. (One obvious candidate, Tidal, doesn’t work with Chromecast yet.)
Why this matters: The whole-home audio market has until now been dominated by Sonos, and it’s long overdue for a less-expensive alternative. Combined with a few cheap sets of speakers, Chromecast Audio is now ready to fill that role.