When we built our old house, we had it wired for a whole house audio system. Back then (2005/2006) all of the different wireless speaker and whole house audio options that we have now were not available. Our installer had to run Ethernet cable throughout the home before the drywall went up. We had a central hub in the basement where all of the various speakers that were installed in the wall went. It was very involved, but it was totally worth it. However, now we have easier options that do not require hiding miles of wires behind walls or cutting holes in the drywall to install speakers. One of those is Google Chromecast Audio.
I started researching Wi-Fi whole house audio options a few months ago. And frankly, the options can be very expensive. And even with high-end units, there are limitations to what you can do. Some expensive units require you to use their app to stream and they usually only allow you to stream from a handful of services.
What is Google Chromecast Audio?
You are probably familiar with the name Google Chromecast. But are you familiar with how Chromecast works? It's a small HDMI connected device that lets you stream content from your mobile device directly to your TV. Chromecast Audio is similar, but for music only. The great thing about it is that you do not have to buy new speakers or an updated stereo system to stream Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, and more all over your home.
Once set up, just use your iOS device, Android device, or even your computer to stream your favorite streaming service or your personal music library to your speakers.
Setting Up Your Chromecast Audio
Chromecast Audio is super easy to use. Unlike other options, it does not tie you down to only a handful of streaming options. If you can play it on your device, you can stream it to your speakers. And since it is Wi-Fi and not Bluetooth, you can stream to more than one speaker at a time.
To get started first plug your Chromecast Audio up to the speaker that you plan to stream to using the supplied audio cable. You should also connect the power.
Next simply download the Google Home app to your Android or iOS device. The app will walk you through everything that you need to know. At this point, the light on your Chromecast Audio should be flashing indicating that it is waiting to be set up. Open your Home app. Tap the Devices button in the upper right-hand corner. You should immediately see your new Chromecast Audio and an alert that it needs to be configured. Hit the setup button. Hit continue and follow the other prompts to add your Chromecast Audio, and to change the name to something more descriptive.
You can also decide whether or not you want to enable Guest Mode. This allows devices in the same room to cast without being on your Wi-Fi network. This could be cool for parties. However, I am leaving this off. You will also add the Chromecast to your Wi-Fi network using the settings already installed on your mobile device.
At this point, you can link your device to your Google Account. This allows you to stream from your Google Play Library, YouTube, and more.
As mentioned, you can hook up to a portable Bluetooth speaker, speaker system, soundbar or even television. If you are only using one Chromecast Audio, you are all set. However, the cool thing about this setup it that it allows you to create groups to stream content all over your home. For this post, I received 2 Google Chromecast Audios which will cover 2 rooms. My husband hooked one up to our stereo receiver in the family room.
I hooked the other one up to a portable JBL speaker in my office. And I will be adding more. There will be a 3rd one hooked to the soundbar in our 2nd floor family room. In this configuration, I can choose to stream something different to each speaker. However, the point of whole house audio is to be able to play your music all over.
To accomplish this, you create a Group. I created a group on the Devices screen in my Google Home app. I added my 2 Google Chromecast Audios, and I was even able to add my Google Home Speaker.
Using Your Chromecast Audio
Using the Chromecast Audio could not be easier. After setup is complete you will notice a new cast button in apps like YouTube Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and others. Once my group was created I was able to pull up a song in YouTube music, hit the cast button, and send it to my group, The Mac House. It played in sync all over the house. Very cool! However, you are not limited to casting from only those apps that show a cast button. You can cast any sound from your phone! To do this just open up the Home app, hit the Menu button on the left, and select Cast screen / audio. From here you can choose where you want to cast. Using this option will cast whatever sound is playing on your phone.
You can add as many Chromecast Audios and speakers to a group as you like. There is no limit. And at only $35 each from Best Buy it is a very reasonable way to create a whole house audio system in your home utilizing the speakers that you already have.
Bonus: Use Google Home to Control with Voice Commands.
Besides just using my Google Home as a speaker in my Home group, I can also use it to control the Chromecast Audios! I can say something like “Hey Google, play my disco playlist on The Mac House” and it will play it!
The Google Chromecast Audio is available for only $35 from Best Buy. Pick up a couple today and create your whole house audio system!
Disclosure: I received 2 Chromecast Audio devices plus a gift card in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.