Australian Review: Chromecast Audio – Multiroom for the masses

The rise of smartphones has paved the way for a number of new product categories. Connected appliances, wearables, and Bluetooth headphones are all well and good, but wireless multiroom speakers are easily my favourite. The issue is, wireless multiroom speakers aren't necessarily cheap, and may seem like an irresponsible purchase if you already have a working stereo system. Google's new Chromecast Audio is designed to provide a happy medium between the two. It's an AUD$59 dongle that ostensibly turns your existing speakers into multiroom speakers.

Much like the new Chromecast, the Chromecast Audio is a small black puck that's mostly designed to stay out of your way. There are however a few small differences. Rather than hooking up to a HDMI port, the musically inclined dongle has a 3.5mm audio connector. This can be plugged directly into a speaker with a line-in jack, but you'll need to get an adapter if your speakers rely on an RCA or optical connection.

After you've got the Chromecast Audio connected to a speaker, you power it up (via AC or USB, but AC will likely be the practical option, given that most speakers don’t have USB ports) and run the setup process via the Chromecast companion app on iOS or Android. The setup process takes about five minutes, and simply involves connecting the Chromecast Audio to your wireless network, giving it a name, and running a firmware update. I setup two, and the process worked perfectly both times.

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