How does Chromecast Audio work?

How does Chromecast Audio work? We explain Google’s plan to do for music streaming what it’s doing for streaming video.

Alongside the Nexus 5X, the Nexus 6P and a new Chromecast, Google also unveiled Chromecast Audio. It’s a Chromecast-style dongle that will turn your existing speaker into a smart one, letting you stream audio from your phone and other devices.

It’s going on sale in 17 countries and in the UK it’s priced at the same £30 it costs to own the new Chromecast. But who exactly is it for and how does it work? Here’s a breakdown of Chromecast Audio.

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How does Chromecast Audio work?

Google says setting up the Chromecast Audio is as easy as setting up the Chromecast. What you’ll need is a speaker with a 3.5mm jack, RCA or optical input. Google provides a 3.5mm headphone cable in the box, but you’ll have to get hold of the appropriate cables for the other options. If you’re still unsure whether your speaker is supported, Google has outlined details over on its Chromecast Audio page.

The next thing you need is pretty obvious. You need a Wi-Fi connection. The Audio supports Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) bands so should have you well covered.

Your next stop is to download the revamped Chromecast app to your phone or tablet and jump make sure it’s on the same Wi-Fi connection as the Chromecast Audio.

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Lastly, find a Chromecast Audio compatible application. Take Google Play for example. Once you’ve hit the Cast icon, you should see options for the available connected speakers. Pick the one you want to stream to and a little audio confirmation will let you know that a connection has been established and you’re good to go.

The device that’s dicatating the music being played to the Chromecast Audio will be able to control the ability to search, play, queue songs and turn the volume up or down.

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What quality is the music streaming?

According to Google, it’s ‘high quality’ music streaming over Wi-Fi, which is the same way a Sonos and pretty much any other multiroom speaker setup churns out its audio. Of course we won’t know until we’ve spent time with it to find out if it really lives up to that high quality billing.

Which platforms will Chromecast Audio be compatible with?

Unsurprisingly, Chromecast Audio will play nice with Android, specifically phones and tablets running on Android 4.1 or later. Additionally, there’s support for Chromebooks to cast music from websites. You can also control playback from Android Wear smartwatches.

But it’s not just Android. It’ll also work with Windows devices running Windows 7 or higher, iOS-packing hardware running iOS 7 or above and Mac OS X 10.7+ devices.

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What services will work with Chromecast Audio?

All of the current Cast-enabled services available for the Google Chromecast dongle should be compatible with the Audio. So you can expect to use Spotify, Google Play Music, Deezer, BBC iPlayer Radio among others. You’ll will also be able to play music from web-based services as well if you don’t have a music streaming service subscription.

You can find out a full list of the compatible apps over on the Chromecast Audio apps page.

What else can you do?

You can still carry on with something else as your Spotify playlists are playing. So if you’re on your phone, you can still invest more hours in Candy Crush Soda uninterrupted or even take calls without cutting out the music.

If you own multiple Chromecast Audio dongles and plug them into different speakers dotted around the house, you can also create a multiroom audio setup a lot like you can do with a Sonos or Pure Jongo speaker setup.

The difference here is the price. Even if you bought five Chromecast Audio dongles and set them up with your existing audio kit, it’s going to be significantly cheaper to assemble. Disappointingly, this feature won’t be available right away but will land before the end of 2015.

Are you interested in Chromecast Audio? Would you buy one? Let us know in the comments section below.