If you’re in the market for an affordable WiFi music streamer, you’ve probably considered the Google Chromecast audio. But what about the Audiocast. Both cost around £30 new and both perform very similar tasks, so should you consider this instead?
In the box
- Line in cable
- USB cable
- Power adapter
- Quick start guide
You can clearly see that its borrowed a few design ques from the Chromecast audio, its not identical but there are certain similarities. On the top sits the AudioCast logo surrounded by a cut out circular design. Size wise its really compact measuring in at 0.75” (19.05mm) thick and has a diameter of 2.16” (54.86mm). So its easy enough to hide away if you don’t want it visible in your setup.
On the front is the stereo connection option, its here where you’d connect it to your speakers or amplifier. I really would have preferred if this was located on the opposite side to keep the front of it cleaner and also it would there would be no awkward wire sticking out of the front. On the plus side the included audio cable is 1m long, so its not too restrictive and you get more freedom to hide it away if you want to.
Round the other side is the WPS pairing button and the DC power in. The included Power USB cable is 1.5m long, so you’ve got some scope to have it a decent distance away from your mains outlet.
On the underside it has a ring of silicone to help prevent it from moving around when on a desk or bedside table. It works reasonably well, but if you use a longer cable the weight my cause it to move. I used the included cable and its fine with that.
Initial setup is really straight forward and easy to do. I only have experience with the Android side of things, but I’m presuming it should be a similar experience for iOS users too.
1st step is to download the app and install it on your phone or tablet
2nd is to plug in the Audiocast and make sure that its powered on. You then load up the app and begin initial pairing. The first screen you’ll see is (figure 1) and it’ll search for the Audiocast.
3rd is connecting to your network, here you’ll see your homes WiFi network (figure 2) and once you’ve found that you’ll have to simply input your password. One thing to note is that if you have more than one network is to pair it to the one that your phone/tablet is paired to.
4th step you have to press the WPS button on the Audiocast to configure your network. (figure 3 & 4)
5th once the fourth step is completed you’ll see (figure 5) and that will let you know that the configuring is in process. Once completed you should see (figure 6) and that will let you if the process has been successful. If not you’ll unfortunately have to repeat steps 3, 4 and the start of 5.
6th Figure 7 shows you where you can setup your Audiocast, all you have to do is select the location that you’re going to be having it in. Figure 8 shows you have to switch between solo and multi mode and that is pretty much it. You are then free to pick from a selection of services like Pandora, Spotify or my choice which is TuneIn radio. (Figure 9).
The app is quite simple and easy to use. You’re first greeted with a list of streaming services. These include the likes of Tidal, Spotify, Pandora and more. I personally don’t use any of those services myself as all my music is on Googles Play music. So for this I decided to give TuneIn a go and the offerings are pretty great and best of all its a free service. There are thousands of stations, loads of different genres and local radio. So whatever your mood or taste you’re pretty much covered.
Once you’ve finally found a station you like, simply press it and wait for it to load. This can take a bit of time depending on where the station is and your connection speed. But for the most part its fairly quick and only on a few occasions have I had a connection issue. But in all fairness I was trying to connect to an American station from the UK, so it might not have been a fault with the Audiocast.
If you get bored or want a change from the current station you’re on, simply swipe down and you’ll see a list of the stations you’ve just been looking at. Or you could swipe to from left to right to select a different source, station or your own music. You’ve also got your settings options, there you can rename the Audiocast, set an alarm and a sleep timer. It also gives you some info about the Audiocast as well.
One issue I’m having with the app is that when I add a station to favourites (by touching the heart icon) they don’t show up in my favourties playlist. I’m hoping this will be addressed in a future update as it can get a bit tedious searching for all my preferred stations each time I want to listen to it.
So the app is not perfect, but for the most part it works well and is easy to use.
Comparison to competition
The Audiocast website has created a table where it compares itself to all the popular competitors on the market. Its closest being Googles offering (on price) and according to the table, the Audiocast provides more features than Chromecast audio. But in reality is it better? Well having not tried the Chromecast audio, I cannot say, but if I can source one, I will do an article comparing the two to see if Audiocasts claims are true.
Now here is where I was quite impressed with the Audiocast, it has options to stream standard audio as well the ability to handle Lossless 24bit 192KHz audio. But to test it I listened to MP3 files varying between 256 and 320kbps via the Bluedio TS3 Bluetooth speaker. To test it, I listened to a song via Bluetooth, then the same song via WiFi. Here are my findings.
The sound was superior to Bluetooth as its less compressed than it, so you don’t get any of the drawbacks that Bluetooth brings. Now admittedly I tested this on a Bluetooth speaker and I could notice a tiny difference. The bass was a touch cleaner, the mids had a little more detail and the highs sounded a little less compressed. The Bluedio speaker, lets face it is not a speaker that is great in terms of audio quality. But there was a small improvement. So I then unwired my Denon Professional monitors (DN-304S) and tried it with those. Keep in mind these are wired into my PC and that’s what I will be comparing it too.
The results were quite positive, the quality was good. Not as good as via the PC but really good considering its wireless. The bass isn’t a impactful as it was wired in, its also not as a deep or punchy. The mids are still pretty detailed and have good clarity. Its not as good as it is hardwired but still good. Much better than Bluetooth I might add as you don’t lose as much quality. Vocals sound nearly identical with the wired option just being that little bit better. Highs are a little bit lacking in comparison but as a whole its better than I expected. Obviously its not as good a direct wiring, but the results are good. One advantage it has over my current setup is the fact I don’t need to turn on my PC to listen to music, yes its not as good but if I’m feeling in a green mood, its a more eco solution.
You’ve read the review, you’ve compared the stats against the Chromecast audio, but is it truly better, well I can’t say. Until I can do a full head to head comparison I am not sure. On paper the Audiocast should be better as it has more features, better streaming capabilities and isn’t as limited. But that is just on paper and sometimes that doesn’t translate into real world performance.
So taking the Chromecast audio out of the equation should you still get one?
Well for £30 it makes your old HiFi smart, its full featured, looks pretty nice, sounds good (with what I’ve tested it on) and is easy to use. The biggest selling point for me is the extra features and it does have quite a few over the competition. So I would say give it a look. But keep in mind though there are a lot of other products in the same price bracket which could be better. So do your research first before ultimately making a decision.
Pick one up here via Amazon UK
AudioCast HIFI Music Receiver And Wireless Sound Streamer