Sonos or Chromecast Audio: Which should you buy?
Whether it's a phone loaded with MP3s or a subscription to a streaming service, with Sonos you're always just a few taps away from sonic bliss. But, the days of having to plug your phone directly into your speaker system to play your music are over; wireless streaming is here to stay.
The big question you need to ask yourself is, "what sort of wireless music system is right for me?"
We'll look at two popular options—Sonos and Google Chromecast—that each have their own pros and cons, so let's dive right in!
Sonos has emerged as one of the leading brands in the wireless speaker category and it's pretty easy to see why.
Whether you want wireless surround sound for your home theater system or a quaint speaker for your bedroom, kitchen, guest-room—or all of the above—Sonos has the speaker options to fit your needs.
You've got options...
There's the Sonos Play:1, which offers crystal-clear sound in a compact package. It's a good place to start if you're not sure whether the Sonos ecosystem is right for you, as you can simply add other speakers to your Wi-FI network at a later time.
The Sonos Play:3 is a versatile upgrade from the Play:1. It's powerful enough to fill a room with rich tones on it's own or you can use two as left and right channels for a Sonos stereo experience with deeper bass and more power.
Or, step up to the Sonos Play:5. With it's state-of-the-art design, Sonos' flagship speaker delivers the sound quality you'd expect with enough power to fill a large room with your favorite music. And, unlike the first generation Play:5, the new edition can be set up in three different orientations, allowing for more flexibility for placement around the room.
Create a network of Sonos speakers throughout your house or office over Wi-Fi and conveniently stream music from your computer or smartphone. Once everything is set up, use the Sonos controller app for Apple, Android, Mac, or PC, for full control of your music wherever you are.
...And more than just music
If you're after the ultimate home theater setup, you'll want to check out the Sonos Playbar and Sonos Sub. Build out a 5.1 surround sound system by combining the Playbar and Sub with a pair of stand-alone speaker components. Of course, you can always use the Playbar and sub for your streaming music.
Already got a sweet audio setup? Get the Sonos Connect or Connect:Amp to convert your existing system into a wireless system.
Once you start creating your Sonos system for your home, chances are you'll end up wanting a speaker for every room of your house.
- Sounds great for wireless streaming.
- Connects with most popular music streaming services.
- Versatile, customizable.
- Easy to expand your wireless system.
- Quite expensive.
- Initial setup can be tricky.
Why Chromecast Audio?
Google's Chromecast Audio comes in a small package, but punches above it's weight class in terms of value. It's a small machine that plugs into your speakers to allow you to stream your music over Wi-Fi.
While Sonos speakers look and sound great, the average consumer is likely priced out from investing in a full-on Sonos home experience, especially if you've already invested in a decent home stereo system.
Easy to set up
If you've ever used Chromecast with your TV, you should know what to expect from Chromecast Audio. it works essentially the same way, except you plug into the 3.5 mm input (RCA and optical input cables are also available) to convert the speakers you already own into wireless receivers over your Wi-Fi. All you need to set things up is a smartphone with the Chromecast app.
Chromecast Audio also supports multi-room casting, meaning you can group all of your speakers together and cast your music throughout your house or cast different music to specific groups.
You get what you pay for
One of the biggest drawbacks to Chromecast Audio is its limited compatibility with music apps and services.
You'll have no issues if Google Play Music is your primary music player, but it should come as little surprise that Chromecast Audio lacks support for Apple services such as iTunes and Apple Music.
If you're an Apple fanatic, that's likely a deal breaker for you, especially with Sonos supporting Apple Music as of 2016.
Even with it's shortcomings, you just can't beat the bang for your buck. You could buy four Chromecast Audio units for the price of one Sonos Play:1 and bring wireless music to four rooms in your home, assuming you've got the speakers to do so. We can help with that department.
If plug-and-play simplicity and cost are the most important purchasing factors to you, make the most of the speakers you've already got with Chromecast Audio.
- Great option if you're on a budget.
- Extremely portable and discrete.
- Easy to set up—no device pairing required.
- Requires pre-existing speaker system.
- App/service compatibility is lacking, especially for iOS users.
○ Sonos buyers guide
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○ Reviews: Home theater, Play:5
○ More: Sonos One; Play:1, Play:3, Play:5, Connect, Connect:Amp, Playbar, Sub
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