Devices with Chromecast built-in, such as the, the receiver and the loudspeaker, can work individually or in concert throughout your home. You can create groups from multiple devices and send music, news or anything else to one or all devices at the same time using the on your phone or by giving voice commands to the Google Assistant.
The best thing about Chromecast built-in is that it works with almost every audio and video device from Google, as well as a number of third-party devices. It’s also free for bothand .
Similar systems exist, including:and , but the first doesn’t play well with Android and the second requires a subscription fee. Sonos, on the other hand, makes one of the best multi-room systems, but the downside is that it’s proprietary and components cost a lot more. For compatibility with multiple brands of phones and audio systems, Chromecast built-in is a great option, especially if you own Google speakers.
Here’s how to set it up.
Get started with multi-room audio
First you need to connect your device to the network. Whether you bought a Google Nest or a third-party device like the JBL Playlist, most Chromecast-enabled devices can be set up using the Google Home app for iOS or Android.
Please note that some third-party Chromecast products may require you to first follow the installation instructions as directed by the device. This may mean using the device’s smartphone app or going to the installation routine under the device’s settings.
New devices should appear on the main page of the Google Home app. Once discovered, click on it and follow the prompts. However, if the app doesn’t see them, maybe because they’ve already been set up before, you may need to add them manually.
To do this, look for the little plus icon in the top left corner of the Google Home app. Pressing that will take you to a menu that allows you to set up a new device or create groups (we’ll get to that in a moment). Go to Add & Manage > Set Up Device > New Device and all compatible devices that need to be set up should appear here. The installation process walks you through step by step; see our piece onfor more details.
Create Chromecast speaker groups
A group consists of two or more built-in Chromecast components (for example, a Google Nest speaker, a Vizio soundbar, and a Sony receiver) that work together as a single speaker. To create a group,from the plus menu.
When the settings page appears, you can choose from all Chromecast devices on your network. After you have selected the desired speakers, you can give the group a name. For example, if they are in three living spaces, you could call it “House Party.” As a result, the new House Party group will now appear on your list as if it were a single device.
Using your group in Chromecast apps
There are dozens of apps that support Chromecast, but here we’re going to focus on apps focused on audio. Apps include Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music, TuneIn, and more — see a full list here. To stream from a supported app, open it and find the Cast button (a screen with three arches in one corner). In the list that appears, you will see all available devices and all groups you have created, such as House Party. Choose a group, play a song via the app and the music will play simultaneously on all included speakers and devices.
Using Google Assistant to play music
If you have one or more Google speakers, or even the app on your phone, you can ask the Assistant to play music on a specific speaker or group. You can even set a default speaker to play music, for example if you have a compatible receiver in the same room as a Google speaker.
To do this, click the speaker on the main page of the Google Home app — let’s say you want to use one, for example — then tap the Settings icon and then tap Audio. The third item is “Default Music Speaker” and there you can choose the speaker you prefer to listen to music/podcasts/etc. from. Then when you are in that zone and you ask the Google Assistant to play something, it will play on the speaker you chose as the default. You can also set a group as the default if you want.
You can also choose your default music service for the devices you want to use. At the moment it is a choice of, , , and . Choose Settings > Music to change the music service from the main page.
Now you can either play music on the default speaker when you give a command like “Hey Google, play pirate metal”, or you can ask Google to play in a specific room or group: “Hey Google, play Radio Paradise on Houseparty .”
Is Chromecast a Sonos Killer?
While the Chromecast built-in is quite powerful, it doesn’t have the same level of support from third-party manufacturers asor . As for premium multiroom is in its own realm, but it is owned and a lot more expensive.
With the right components and the right app, you can build a great Chromecast built-in system. There’s plenty of software – like Spotify, YouTube and Tidal – and devices from brands like Vizio, Sony, Onkyo and even Cambridge Audio. While most people will use Chromecast built-in along with a voice assistant (“Hey, Google, play dance music in Whole House”), there’s only one app I know of that does to Chromecast what Sonos does to multiple services. That service is— hands down the best controller for multiple Chromecast devices. But that said, it’s mainly aimed at enthusiasts and not really designed for the casual user.
If you just want to stream from your phone to a speaker (smart or otherwise), the Chromecast built-in is an excellent, cost-effective system. If you want to dip your toes in the house party water for a very modest expense, Chromecast gives you plenty of room to grow in the future.