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

chrome-audio

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, Google 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 and Ebay 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.

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