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Google's new Chromecast Audio enables any speaker with Wi-Fi streaming


BY NIKKI EKSTEIN

 

Listen up audiophiles: That vintage Harmon subwoofer you’ve been using as a side table is now capable of 21st-century music streaming. That’s thanks to Google’s new Chromecast Audio, a brightly colored puck barely larger than a silver dollar, which plugs into any speaker and turns it into a Wi-Fi enabled device. “Your phone is many things,” says Google’s Michael Sundermeyer, director of user experience for Chromecast and the lead designer for Audio. “It’s a movie theatre, a music jukebox, a game machine, a photo album.” Only one of those things isn’t as compatible with the “cast” button on the original, TV-focused Chromecast: your tunes. This new addition to the Google family—made with recycled plastic and plant-based inks, and modeled after retro vinyl records—closes the gap, and ushers Google further into the brave new world of smart home technology. Already have a portable speaker for your Spotify D.J. needs? Sundermeyer points out that Wi-Fi streaming has advantages over Bluetooth, citing longer range, multiuser control, and higher quality—particularly since your tracks don’t need to get compressed as they transfer from your phone to speaker. For the price, it’s a no-brainer. $35, google.com/chromecast