How I turned my Chromecast into a $45 networked audio adapter

34 Comments

Most people think of Chromecast as a video streaming adapter, but there’s already a lot of music available through the device as well: Chromecast already supports Pandora (S P), Google (s GOOG) Play Music and Songza, and both Beats Music and Rdio have pledged to add support as well. Add to that music videos on YouTube and Vevo, and you’re starting to wonder why you can’t just plug Chromecast straight into your home stereo.

Turns out you can — if you buy a simple $10 adapter, that is.

I scoured both Amazon (s AMZN) and Ebay (S EBY) over the last couple of weeks, searching for an inexpensive way to take the audio signal of a Chromecast adapter and feed it into a regular stereo system. There are a few dedicated HDMI audio extractor boxes out there, but most require external power, cost $40 or more and are just too complicated for what I had in mind.

Then I stumbled across an HDMI to VGA adapter that also separates audio that sold on Ebay for $9 plus a small shipping charge. It doesn’t need any additional power, your Chromecast fits right in, and you can even use the audio cable that comes with it to connect to the line-in of many speakers. Check out a video demo of the adapter below:

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How could a $10 adapter possibly sound good? Obviously you get what you pay for, and if you are looking for the best-sounding wireless audio experience, something like Sonos may be a better fit. It’s also worth pointing out that Chromecast doesn’t offer a multiroom experience.

You can also just stream to one speaker or stereo system with this, but you won’t be able to have synchronized sound across your entire house. Again, for such an experience, you should look at Sonos, or maybe the newly launched Beep device. However, even if you buy a new Chromecast just for audio streaming and this adapter on top, it only sets you back around $45 — a lot less than even an entry-level Sonos speaker.

I found it a great and inexpensive way to network some legacy speakers that sounds good enough to my ears. It’s a good solution for Pandora and the occasional video podcast on YouTube that works just as well without the picture — and I’m probably gonna get even more use out of it once Rdio and other services are available for Chromecast as well.

34 Comments

Vit

The video is also working throught the VGA connector, or audio only?

Nick B Smith

Tried this myself and it didn’t work. Loads of background buzz/hum, and when playing audio it was garbled. Maybe some HDMI adapters are better than others.

holmern

Ordered this and tried it.. so much noise on the audio it sounds like a radio station with horrible signal. Guess I’ll look at other hdmi audio extractors.

Bob Carroll

Has anyone found an HDMI-through adapter (with audio) to simultaneously use a Chromecast dongle for this audio function while still using it in the traditional manner connected to TV?

TV >>> HDMI-through+AUDIO-adapter >>> Chromecast-dongle

naos

Cool, for best sound quality possible I would buy an audio extractor with digital audio output intead of analog and plug it into a quality external DAC then the DAC into home stereo. And tada, you have a audiophile grade music streaming to your home stereo, with good hi-fi amp and speakers will sound way better than Sonos too.

Robin

Could I use this adapter to connect the Chromcast to an older television that only has a PC pin rather than the HDMI? Thanks for any help.

steve

I did this with an HDMI to spdid digital convertor into my DAC. The convertor cost more than the chromecast.

Sandeep

You won’t need to do this if you have a A/V Receiver with HDMI IN/OUT – simply plug the Chromecast in the HDMI IN and plug a HDMI from the OUT to your TV. As long as your Receiver supports HDMI CEC then the receiver will turn off itself and play audio. Video will still display on the TV.

mel

Wifi has (1) better sound quality, (2) much wider range. Even APTX bluetooth is not near WiFi on these criteria. The range of Chromecast apps gets progressively wider, and initiatives like AllCast make it even more attractive. I have both WiFi (Chromecast) and a BlueTooth receiver. The Bluetooth is a little easier to set up to play, but the slightly greater effort to use Chromecast is richly rewarded.

Robert Mao

Chromecast can be hacked for many interesting stuff. Check out a few interesting proof of concept we’ve done here: http://pixomobile.com/pixocast/

Other than streaming video, audio, it can run apps such as news, clock, weather and even some casual games!

Thomas Limmer

Technically those aren’t hacks, chromecast could do all of those without modifying it. And it’s nothing new or special if you’re using android.

MEATLocker

Well surely part of a Chromecast’s raison d’être is to be connected to a TV. Mine is then connected to my amp for realistic sound when casting something (or watching TV etc). When I want music I can use either Airplay or the Google Play app. Seems crazy to make a cheap solution dearer by buying an extra piece of gear when none is needed, just to turn the TV off -to which the Chromescast is usually (neatly) connected.

muzak

You could have bought a used 10 year old AirTunes unit on Craigslist for about the same price.

So?

naos

So Chromecast have multitude more applications, it is not a fixed-feature protocol like AirPlay. Basically Cast technology, which is behind Chromecast, is next step in evolution of media streaming. It works the way that Chromecast can load any webapp you point it to, and that what is actually happening when you cast something from youtube or netflix etc. Imagine what else can be done, anything really.

RPiatt

I’ve had my chromecast plugged directly into my A/V receiver (HDMI port) since I received it. Works fantastic.

MEATLocker

Why do you need anything else? Chromecast to TV. Audio out on TV to amp. Sorted. No extra device required.

Carlos

Then the TV has to be on. Maybe he doesn’t want that for some reason.

Jim

One reason would be screen ‘burn-in’. When you stream songza or pandora the screen format is constant and could result in screen burn-in. Right now I just turn off the screen, but I would like the option to by-pass the tv. It’s a good idea

MEATLocker

Chromecast either shows its own screensavers or album artwork. It’s constantly moving.

J

I want something like this for my garage setup that had no tv. It’s an audio cart that gets moved around the house that had WiFi everywhere. Perfect solution to wire free.

Brian Welter

I have my chromecast plugged directly into my amp. That way if I only want music without the TV on I can just switch to that input on the amp.

Gabe

In our case we want to stream music in our office without needing a pc or monitor/tv to be on all the time. Since we’re all at computers, we can change the station without getting up. Perfect.

Blake Carrington

I just plug my samsung tabby or my kindle diect into my stereo amp with a 3.5mm to rca male adaptor jack.On my other amps or even in my car that 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm you use works well and you can use all those apps.I love the tuned in app best.the sond is as good as the amp you have ,I have a 1015 watt sony it sounds perfect to stream.You can get those adaptors on amazon for under 2 dollars u.s. and save the 45 bucks for something else.

Carlos

I take it he doesn’t want his phone tethered to his amp. I don’t blame him. With the CC you can still take calls, do other stuff on your phone, leave the house etc and the media will keep playing.

Sam

Dude, I looked into this a couple months ago and came up empty handed. You realize what this means, don’t you? You are no longer just a writer that covers the Chromecast. You’ve ascended. You are now a Chromecast god.

Sam

Why even buy a Chromecast at all? You can just hook your laptop up to the TV with a much cheaper HDMI cable. All these people buying Chromecasts are acting quite silly. Come to think of it, why not just pay a neighbor kid to mime the latest episode of Scandal? Save on the cable AND the TV.

Guess

What if you don’t have a laptop? A phone, Chromecast, and a television give you the option to view a wide variety of content from the comfort of your couch. Thirty five bucks. I know some people that pay more than that for HDMI cables!

Tom

Why bring my laptop all tge way over to the TV when I can just click an icon and keep using it for other things? Why use a laptop at all. I stream 99‰of the time from my phone or tablet. I use it more than my Roku now… Netflix, HBOgo, music, etc.

Alan Green

Come to think of it, why did we crawl out the sea onto the land at all?

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