I am using this for multi-room audio in a large home. I actually have 15 ChromeCast Audio (CCA) in conjunction with 6 old receivers using their 5.1 and 7.1 multi-channel inputs, feeding a total of 30 speakers.
The DAC on the CCA sounds very good.
You can redirect the audio from any Android device to the CCA.
Or you can cast from apps that are cast-enabled on both Android and iOS .
There is desktop support in the Google Chrome browser too casting from tabs.
I have been using the device primarily with Tidal on Android so far, and Youtube on Android using device redirection.
You can create device groups of CCA in the Google Home app - I am using Whole House, Upstairs, Downstairs, and Outdoors.
I have a love-hate relationship with this device.
When it works, it is really nice.
There are many problems, however, some rather serious :
- the networking is incompatible with most Wifi mesh systems, such as my Netgear Orbi. I also tried Linksys Velop and CCAs don't work either. The problem is that some CCAs randomly disappear from the Google home app. I could have any number of CCA between 0 and 15 show up. This made the multi-room feature completely unusable. The only way I was able to solve this was by wiring each device with Ethernet, using an interface that costs an additional $15 per Chromecast, plus ethernet cable, plus ethernet switches. This drives up the cost significantly. Because 8 of my CCA upstairs were in a room not directly wired to my router, I had to use Powerline AV1200 to make the ethernet work. I also had to buy an extra ethernet switch.
- the CCA will drop off the network if internet access is lost, even if it's just for a few seconds. This is true whether CCA is connected by Wifi or ethernet. CCA will go back to Wifi setup mode. This is a security issue, as well as brain-dead, since you could be playing local content to the CCA that doesn't require internet access, but the playback will stop anyway if you stop your internet. It means you cannot use the CCA at all on a private network not connected to the internet. I have a less than 100% reliable internet connection with Comcast, and am really suffering due to this problem as my playback often stops if I lose internet, for no good technical reason at all.
- the google home app needs work in terms of managing the CCA if you have more than one. You first need to open the app, go to "devices"'. Then, all the devices and groups will appear, but in random order. And you will have to scroll many screens to find the one you want. There is no sorting. This is a big usability issue. It should be possible to display the list of all the CCAs and groups on a single screen, and they should be in a sorted order. Furthermore, if you want to change the volume on only one of the CCAs in a group, you need to select that group, click the volume icon, click the mixer icon in the top right of the screen, and then finally use the slider to change volume on the one you want. This is simply far too many steps. The app is functional but not ergonomic at all. The app is constantly changing and the steps change over time also. But so far, the app seems to have changed for the worse. Ie. it requires even more screen presses now than it did a few weeks ago.
Overall, I'm enjoying my CCA, but some of the design and implementation decisions in the firmware and software are terrible and need to be addressed.