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Lead image

Guide to TVs, speakers, and receivers with Chromecast built-in

Google lets you use your phone or voice as your remote control

T

he evolution of Google's Chromecast built-in has branched out from being mainly a video-casting option to also handling high-res streaming audio. At its most basic level, it lets you wirelessly play, or "cast," what's playing on your phone, tablet, or laptop to a TV or sound system. And you have control in the palm of your hand.

Sony puts Chromecast built-in in their TVs. Audiophile brands like McIntosh and Primare put it in their components. I think it's fair to say that it's a wireless streaming and multi-room solution with some serious credibility.

Uniti Atom 4

The Naim Uniti Atom is one of several audiophile-grade components with Chromecast built-in.

What is Chromecast built-in?

You're probably familiar with the Chromecast device that plugs into your TV or stereo. Gear with Chromecast built-in works exactly the same way — but you don't need a separate device.

You connect the gear to your Wi-Fi network and get access to an ever-growing list of streaming video or audio apps. And you control everything with your phone, laptop, tablet, or voice.

How does Chromecast work?

When you’re in a compatible app, like Spotify, TIDAL, or Qobuz, you’ll see the Cast button at the top of the screen (shown in orange below).

Holding phone with powered speaker

This JBL Link Music shows up as a Chromecast built-in speaker option in my Qobuz app.

When you hit the Cast button, a list of available speakers pops up. For me it goes like this: I've got a Naim Uniti Atom integrated amp powering my system now, and a JBL Link Music in my hallway. Both of them show up as Chromecast speaker options within the Qobuz app on my phone, tablet, or laptop. When I select it and press play, the selected speaker turns on and the music starts.

What devices support Chromecast?

Chromecast is a true audio-visual platform, so you'll find it in a wide variety of devices. One of the cooler options it gives you is the ability to sync what you've got together. You can use your TV's soundbar as part of a whole house sound system when you're having a party, or cast your TV's soundtrack audio into every room for the final minutes before the Times Square Ball drops on New Year's Eve.

Google Chromecast for video

We were early adopters, casting from my laptop via a Chromecast dongle in the back of our TV. Now with Chromecast built-in and app-based streaming accounts that sync between all your devices, everything works together. And the newest version of Chromecast supports 4K Ultra HD video resolution.

Chromecast built-in for video comes in Sony TVs and a handful of projectors. You can use it to watch Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube, NBA League Pass and much more.

Google Chromecast for audio

There are tons of different products with Chromecast built-in for audio. You’ll find it in Home theater receivers, wireless home speakers, and sound bars. It allows you to play Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Pandora, YouTube Music, and Google Play, among others.

I'm often listening in situations where it's impossible to hear the difference between 16-bit/44kHz CD-quality and the high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz Chromecast can deliver. They both sound great, especially when you turn it up a little louder. But it's somehow comforting to know that the high-res is there with Chromecast.

I use my iPhone to stream music, and Chromecast playback control response time is noticeably faster than AirPlay on my system.

How to set up Chromecast

Chromecast setup is pretty quick and easy when your phone is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast built-in gear.

Download the free Google Home app to your Android™ or Apple® device. The app will walk you through setup and will recognize the component, speaker, or TV on your home Wi-Fi network.

phone with setup screen

First you'll need to set up your account and home in the Google Home app. I adventurously named mine "Home." I've already set up the Naim Uniti Atom that you can see in the lower left of the screen. The app recognizes that I've got a new Chromecast built-in speaker that isn't set up yet — the JBL Link Music on the upper left of the screen. Tap on it and follow the steps to set it up.

phone with music services screen

During setup, I chose to put the JBL Link Music in “Hallway,” but if I were going to use a custom room name, I’d keep it to one syllable in case I wanted to use voice control, where the rule of thumb is “simpler is better.” Now I want to group the JBL (Hallway speaker) and the Uniti Atom together, so I'll tap the "+" button in the upper left corner.

App image

Tapping "+" brings up a list of Google Home device categories. I chose “Create speaker group," then selected the Naim Uniti Atom and the Hallway speaker to include them in the group, which I named “home chrome," which now shows up on my home screen. The “(2)” beside it lets you know how many speakers are in the group.

phone with mirroring screen

Now that it's set up in my Google Home app, my Chromecast built-in components and groups show up in whichever of the thousands of compatible apps I happen to be using — usually Qobuz. The check mark shows me I've successfully connected to my "home chrome" group.

Voice control with the Google Assistant

I'm still getting used to the amazing convenience of voice control. You can use it for Chromecast with the Google Assistant on your phone or one of the separate Google Nest voice assistants, including the Hub models with full-color touchscreens.

Google Nest Hub

The Google Nest Hub gives you voice-assistant control and a 7" full-color touchscreen.

I'll be honest and say that I usually don't get too fancy when I use it, but — I use it almost every day. "Hey Google," I'll say to my JBL Link Music in the hallway, "play 91.1 FM."

"Streaming WTJU 91.1 from Tune-In," my Google voice assistant always replies, and the radio station starts playing.

"Hey Google," I'll say eventually, "turn it off." And off it goes. Works every time, and I haven't moved from the couch.

You can do much more than that with voice commands though. If you've grouped speakers in the app like I have, you can play and control music for the group. Tell the assistant to turn it up, turn it down*, pause, skip to the next track, and so on.

Getting more specific — requesting a specific song, for example — can be dicey. But... I keep experimenting with it. Because...

Chromecast is evolving

When you think about how much better this technology is now than it was five years ago, it's easy to believe that it's going to get much, much better in the next five years, including its voice control usability.

An interesting note: the original Chromecast dongle and accompanying free control app of the same name came out in 2013. The app was renamed Google Cast briefly in 2016, and before that year ended became Google Home, one of the most popular — and powerful — smart home apps.

So, from controlling video to controlling audio and video, to controlling your home.

*We are waiting to see what the final outcome of the Sonos vs. Google patent case will be, but meanwhile sources like Wired and Techradar report that volume control for groups will now have to be done independently.

Have questions about Chromecast built-in?

Or questions about multi-room music, voice control, or anything else we've discussed? Contact one of our Advisors for help choosing the best gear for your needs.

Last updated 1/24/2022
  • Chris K from PORT ST LUCIE

    Posted on 4/10/2022

    Why is Google focused on mainly speakers with Chromecast built-in? This doesn't make sense to me. I also don't understand why they discontinued the Chromecast audio. I have a Yamaha rn803 and I have no way to use Google cast. Yes, it has bluetooth, dlna, and Wi-Fi but Google cast is a different technology and it is what Chromecast is built on. So for all of us with stereo receivers, how do we cast our audio apps?

    Commenter image

    Ned Oldham from Crutchfield

    on 4/11/2022

    Thanks for your questions, Chris. I've asked one of our advisors to get in touch with you to help you find a component that will add Chromecast to your R-N803 (although at this time I don't think there is anything that comes close in terms of the price-point of the discontinued Chromecast Audio). But in the meantime, you also have Yamaha MusicCast built into your R-N803 that will let you cast from a ton of different streaming services.
  • Andrew McDaniel from Alexandria, VA

    Posted on 1/26/2022

    Doesn't this need updating to reflect that Google has now removed some of the capabilities in their speaker groups? Google did this because of losing a ruling related to Sonos charging that Google infringed one or more of their patents. A normal company would then license the patents from Sonos, but Google removed the capabilities via a firmware update, rather than pay Sonos. I have a Sony TV, several Chromecasts w Google TV, and three Nest speakers throughout the house that I purchased depending on Google's representation of their capabilities when grouped together.

    Commenter image

    Ned Oldham from Crutchfield

    on 1/27/2022

    Thanks for your comment, Drew, and good point. We are waiting to see what the final outcome of the Sonos vs. Google patent case will be. Meanwhile, I've updated the article, thanks to your keen eye.
  • Phil from San Diego

    Posted on 12/12/2020

    Can I get more clarity on a few things?: (1) Can Google commands like "OK Google, play some Dylan in the Den" cast the music to the designated receiver zone with speakers powered by the receiver (as opposed to a small separate Google Home device)? (2) Can the receiver be turned OFF and ON using Google commands?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/18/2020

    Hi Phil -- different receivers are capable of different things when it comes to Google Assistant voice control. (Right now, all of them are limited compared to the native Google Home devices.) I'll ask one of our Advisors to touch base with you directly and see if we can find what makes the most sense for your setup.
  • Maxwell from Sandys

    Posted on 12/5/2020

    Is it really casting? Does chromecast built in really cast from device or direct the "built in" to find better version, "or not better" but seek the internet version. My experience: Started chrome cast with you tube music. I accidentally shut down, not off, but completely shut down my casting device. The tract continued to cast selected material and even went to next track on play list and even further many more tracks. This Was beyond what any buffer could contain.

  • Andrew from Columbia, MD

    Posted on 4/16/2020

    Thanks for the informative article Jeff! I've been researching new receivers two support 2 zones (inside home theater and outdoor speakers, where I want to be able to listen to music, especially from Spotify), along with a new multi-room/whole-house audio setup. I already have a Vizio soundbar with Chromecast Built-in. I also have a Vizio TV with Chromecast and Airplay2 built-in, which is connected to the Vizio soundbar. I'm trying to find an affordable way to get 2 zones which are also part of a multi-room setup with the other Vizio equipment. It seems like Chromecast is a good way to go, but I'm concerned about its longevity and support into the future seeing as there are so few receivers with Chromecast built-in. I was looking at the SONY STR-DN1080, which seems like it would fit my needs. Do you think that's a wise investment? Or would it make more sense to get a slightly more feature-full receiver like the Yamaha RX-V685, with the addition of a Chromecast dongle. Will having the Chromecast add-on work as seamlessly as built-in?

  • James Fredrickson from Naples FL,

    Posted on 10/25/2019

    Tim, why does my Chromecast Dongle not work on an HDMI input on my Yamaha RX-A2060 A/V Receiver? IT works fine directly into my HDMI port on my Epson projector but than I have no audio? Is this some type of video digital rights issue as video Chromecast is no built in to A/V receivers and does not work on any of my HDMI ports either ?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 10/27/2019

    James, I'll ask Yamaha and see what I can find out.
  • Tim A from Chicago

    Posted on 11/7/2018

    In response to my own question/comment on stereo vs mono for Chromecast Audio devices: I had a long conversation with an expert at a Google Hardware store and he indicated that he thought that the device supported stereo output on the analog jack, he could not find it documented anywhere. He thought that my system setup was incorrect, since I had only amps and no "audio separator" device.

    So I did the detailed testing myself. Using a tone generator on my smartphone as input, I generated a two-tone signal - one tone for the left and the other for the right channel. First with my home theater system (no Chromecast Audio), I could hear the 2 tones and the "beat pattern" caused when using two similar tones (indicating that indeed stereo was being played through the system. Then, I used my Chromecast Audio device, with amp and in-ceiling speakers - but did *not* get a beat pattern (ie. my initial concern of not hearing stereo) until I physically moved location where I wasa standing! My room dimensions and location of speakers (two pair of left/right speakers) are such that they make for a number of locations where the audio interference patterns cause loss of perceived stereo.

    I stand corrected on the lack of functionality in the Chromecast Audio device. My apology to Google. (BTW, I trust Crutchfield/Jeff - my initial poke was in jest to start a dialog. :) )

    Hopefully this test/experiment helps others as well.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 11/8/2018

    Thanks for the great follow up, Tim! I appreciate you bringing it up, and digging up the answer for us.
  • Tim A from Chicago

    Posted on 9/27/2018

    Hi Jeff/Crutchfield. Nice article, but one topic is not covered - stereo vs mono. (Actually, this is a bit of a miss from a Crutchfield (the audio guys) writer.) Nowhere in any literature is is explained that a Google Chromecast Audio device is inherently mono. There is no technical reason, from a casting perspective, that is needs to be this way but it is how is apparently designed. Have you explored this? Do you agree? I would be interested in knowing if some of the higher-end speakers the support casting address this. Can you point me to reviews and/or do some investigation on this? (I would really love to find a nice *pair* of speakers that I could Cast to in true stereo.) Finally, given my experience, for one application (room), I have chosen to stay with my Bluetooth *stereo* speakers, even thought the setup/usage is a but harder simply because of the better audio experience with 2-channel sound.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 9/27/2018

    Tim, thanks for the comment. You're right -- I should look into this. I'll see what I can find out, and reply and/or update the article.
  • Derek

    Posted on 8/25/2018

    Question on how Chromecast built in actually works. If I have a CBI receiver and I cast an video or audio app to it, what is the phone's role? With a traditional hardware Chromecast (video or audio), everything resides on the Chromecast device so I can disable the mobile device that I casted from and the content continues to play. For example, in the past I've started a movie for the kids and went to dinner. Is this how the Built In works or am I streaming from the internet to my phone and from my phone to the tv? I'm confused because the google website states that I'm casting from my phone but it also says that the casting won't run down my battery. From this, it's not really clear how this works. Is the answer the same for video and audio apps? Thanks.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 8/27/2018

    Hi Derek,

    For the most part, gear with Chromecast built-in works very similarly to the Chromecast device. Video or music services that are compatible with Chromecast (like Netflix or Pandora) will make a direct connection to the gear (the receiver in your example). The phone acts mainly as a "remote" here -- it controls the content you're playing.

    Now, if you're playing audio and/or video from your phone that is not Chromecast compatible, you can choose "Cast screen/audio." This will "mirror" the content from your phone to your gear with Chromecast built in. In this particular case, your phone is making the connection to the video/audio service, so it will use more of your phone's battery.
  • Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/14/2018

    Very cool, Sudhir. Thanks for the tip!

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