Since the standard Chromecast and Chromecast Audio have different enough purposes, I thought it might be helpful to give the Chromecast Audio its own thread.
My Chromecast Audio units arrived yesterday, and I've been having a lot of fun playing with them. I purchased 2 to start, but I'm quickly realizing that I would like to add one to each stereo around the house. My experience with them is limited, and unfortunately I don't have an measuring equipment to give you raw data, but so far I'm pretty impressed. Here's what I've learned so far.
-The form factor is awesome! With its diminutive size, you could slap these things in any nook and cranny. Seriously. You can put these things pretty much anywhere. If you're talking multi-zone functionality, this could be really nice if space is an issue. Also, compare the heat output of having something like 6 Sonos Connects (which is actually put out quite a bit of heat even when not in use) vs 6 of these. Size and heat wise, there's no comparison.
-Optical out is a go! It's easy to use with S/PDIF digital optical using a simple converter. I'm using these: http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=2671
At, $0.89 a piece, there's no excuse NOT to if you have an optical input and a spare cable. You can also buy a mini-toslink to toslink cable for dirt cheap, too. I did a side by side comparison of the sound quality using the standard 3.5mm jack versus the optical, and as anybody could have predicted, I perceive less noise and the volume is much better on the receiver end using the optical cable.
-Unbelievably easy and quick to setup. I was expecting the setup to be at least a LITTLE bit more involved. Nope. It took me MAYBE around a minute each to get them connected to my wifi, set up, and updated.
-Usability doesn't get much easier than this. My technologically impaired wife had zero problem getting her tunes to play in our livingroom, and we're both enjoying "Casting" our audio streams to the stereo of our choice, at this time, simply labeled "Living Room" and "Basement." More to come for sure.
-Sound quality is actually better than I was expecting. According to one review I read, as well as Google Support (https://support.google.com/chromecas.../6279377?hl=en
), Chromecast Audio supports 24-bit/96kHz audio. VERY nice!!!
-The included USB power cable was much longer than I was expecting, at a healthy 6 feet. I had no problem placing it anywhere I wanted to. I just stuck one behind one of my TVs for now, and the other is just sitting next my old receiver.
-Wifi connection is superb. I have a pretty good size house. One of the units is in the far reach of the basement, is on the opposite side of the house from the router, and the wifi signal there is not great. I've had no dropouts or lack of sound quality. I remember reading that Google was apparently pretty proud of their wifi technology in both of their new Chromecasts. I'd say they were right. It really is very good.
Now, one of my biggest questions was how would it compare to the excellent Sonos Connect? I've been wanting to implement a 6 Zone WHA system at my house, and have been looking into every option out there. At $35 versus $350, I have no reason to complain, BUT I will at least give my thoughts. As of today, there is no room grouping, but Google says they will be releasing an update this Fall that will address that. That is my biggest issue with it at the moment. Also, where I will admit that Sonos is better is the App in which you can login to your various streaming accounts directly within the app, keeping you from having to use multiple apps. It's definitely simpler in that regard, but then again I must remind myself...Thirty...Five...dollars. On the flip side however, to be able to stream audio from just about anything using certain apps is also pretty cool! This opens up a LOT of flexibility, especially with the use of something like Plex, which I still need to try and use in conjunction with the Chromecast before commenting further on that. One of the things I'm seeing it be BETTER than Sonos on is when it comes to multiple users. With Sonos, I've experienced serious control issues when trying to go from one phone or tablet to another. I'm pleasantly surprised in that I've found the Chromecast Audio to actually function better and more seamlessly on that front, but then again, perhaps those issues aren't that widespread and more just anecdotal.
Here's hoping that Google will remain solid with the support and updates going forward. So far, they have a serious contender on their hands. For the price differential, everybody else had better be on their toes! I'm hoping that this will help spur on some more innovation from the competition, which is long overdue for some. I'll make sure and keep commenting on my experiences as time goes forward. So far, so good! Heck of a great device at just about any price, let alone $35!