Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Taking our Kitchen Radio to the Next Level - On the Cheap

As we were wrapping up our Kitchen Renovation it hit me: why didn't we have our contractor install some sort of built in sound system when we had the chance? Mind you, I don't actually know what I mean by "built in sound system," just that I knew my chance to run cable and install speakers in the ceiling/walls had passed. This would have been a sweet upgrade from the under-counter AM/FM radio that's got quite a bit of use over the last 10 years.

I started doing some research and quickly learned that the days of needing to run hard wired sounds systems are long gone. Even still, purchasing the hardware to power a home sound system was an expense I'd have a hard time justifying. Not to mention, I didn't really know what I wanted or needed in such a system.

As a compromise, I took a card out of my friend Nick's playbook: I purchased two simple bluetooth speakers with AUX in ports and two Google Chromeocast Audio devices. At each end of the kitchen I plugged in a Bluetooth speaker and Chromecast:

I then fired up the Google Chromecast setup (which is amazingly done, by the way) and within a couple of minutes had two different devices I could cast to. I kicked off the iHeartRadio app, selected a local station, and cast to one of the speakers. I had music. Very cool. I then created a new Chromecast Audio Group and put both kitchen speakers in it. I then cast to this virtual device and lo-and-behold, I had audio seamlessly coming out of both speakers. This was downright magical!

I'm so hooked. I can't believe how elegant the Chromecast audio is, especially when you consider the ridiculously cheap price of $30.

I'm sure the audiophile out there is cringing right now. It doesn't matter. The speakers sound just fine to me, and while something built in would be sexier, I can live with the extra devices on the counter. Between the iHeartRadio app and tunein radio, I've got endless amounts of audio to listen to. Even Shira, who's a fan of FM radio, is enjoying the setup. Now instead of just being able to scan among the local stations, she can reach stations across the country.

I love that I can cast audio from either my cell phone or any Chrome browser. The only disappointment I've had with the whole system is that my Chromebit, despite running Chrome OS, doesn't seem to support any type of casting. I just get a blank screen when I list out the devices available to cast to.

I'm sure there are fancier solutions out there. But if you want to take your music to the next level, and do so on the cheap, Google Chromecast Audio is the way to go. Thanks for the lead Nick!.

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