Want to stream internet radio to your home stereo system? You could invest in a Sonos system for $250 or more. Or as GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers discovered, you could spend about $45 and stream online audio to your existing stereo system.

All you need is a $35 Google Chromecast and a $10 HDMI to VGA adapter.

HDMI to VGA adapter

Here’s how it works. The Chromecast is designed to plug into the HDMI port on a TV and let you stream internet media to a big screen while using your phone, tablet, or PC as a remote control.

But if you use an HDMI to VGA adapter that also has an audio output, you can plug the audio cable straight into the input on a speaker or home stereo system. This lets you stream audio to you high-quality speakers without turning on your TV.

All you need to do is fire up your Android or iOS phone or tablet or a PC with the Google Chrome browser and Chromecast plugin, choose a supported app such as Pandora, Rdio, or Songza, hit the Chromecast icon, and tap play.

The Chromecast will grab your audio straight from the internet and stream it to your speaker. You can pause the music or switch tracks or apps using your mobile device. But you can also turn it off and let the music keep playing. Not bad for $45.

Of course, you don’t get some of the features that really make a Sonos (or Beep) cool, such as the ability to stream audio simultaneously to multiple speakers throughout your house, or pick up where you left off in a different room. And the audio quality might not be stellar. But it’s yet another way to make use of Google’s inexpensive media streamer. It’s just too bad Google didn’t include a separate audio output in the device itself.

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57 replies on “$10 adapter turns Chromecast into cheap Sonos competitor”

  1. Anybody think of squeezebox on Pi? You can do whole house, multi zone with multiple nodes and control through app. Hi-Fi audio too. Nuff said.

  2. The audio quality on those hdmi to vga is terribly bad. You should get something else unless you don’t mind hearing noise…

  3. Squeezebox on a Rasperry Pi or some other system is probably smarter choice and actually offers multi-room audio and full audio out options. Also old Squeezebox devices themselves are pretty cheap on eBay these days. The server software is still freely available on multiple platforms. Tons of plugins.

  4. Last night at our new house I finally unmothballed my sonic impact t-amp, a pair of pioneer monitors I’d never opened and a small sony sub that had been shrink wrapped for 10+ years or so. Now I’m looking for a way to drive all of this. Looks like a decent option.

  5. I think this purpose can also be achieved with most Televisions that have an audio output…

    Which most people already have running all day anyways.

    I don’t buy into all that streaming business though. Streaming music and movies is such an incredible waste of bandwidth, not to mention that there’s an infinite number of hick-ups that can prevent you from receiving that stream when you want it.

    HDD > Streaming

  6. I bought this adapter, and a male to male gender changer as my tv only has a female port. didnt work at all, i read somewhere that the chromecast can’t provide enough power to the adapter. either way, I also bought a fm transmitter to transmit the audio to my stereo via fm.

  7. nice solution!
    is it possible to get image and sound of google chrome to the tv and sound system?
    (For example if you play a video over youtube.com via chrome on macbook)

  8. As others have reported, I find this only works if a VGA device is also connected. Pure audio output does NOT work.

      1. BOOM exactly what I was looking for. :). Make sure to power cycle everything with the paper clip in. Sometimes for me everything powered on and a simple unplug and replug of the audio AUX got it up for me as well.

  9. i bought the same adopter for chromecast but audio is coming only when i connect vga monitor through vga port of adopter, When you de-plug vga monitor no audio will be there. Please guide..

    1. I had the same issue.

      You need to simulate a VGA dummy load.

      I got it to wok by simulating a VGA load with 2 paper clips. See here:

      https://www.geeks3d.com/2009123

      I only used the right 2 bridges and just a paper click instead of a resistor. Works great.

  10. I bought this HDMI to VGA adapter but to use with my BOSE stereo speaks but I couldn’t get it to work unless I connect the VGA as well. The moment I remove the VGA monitor or just turn it off, the sound stops playing as well. Any idea?

    1. Same with me dear can any one share new idea so that the same can happen as explained here..

  11. I just plug my Chromecast into one of the 6 hdmi ports on my Onkyo receiver and viola….audio thru my surround sound system.

  12. What I did was even simpler. I merely looped the optical audio-out from my Sony HDTV to an optical port on my Pioneer AV receiver. I get Dolby 5.1 and 1080p in my media room whether I am watching Netflix or Songza or YouTube. It ain’t whole home audio but it is a theater experience with outstanding sound and stunning HD picture quality.

  13. That is cool but if your not going to use the vga function, you can just get a bluetooth2audio thingy for $20.

  14. any cheap chinese *cast (made 1 year before google one), has USB port and cost far less than google one. There are lot of cheap and really good quality usb audio converter supported by linux (as in all these case that’s android/Linux…

  15. Or you can get an airplay enabled airpush d2 🙂 Dunno how well it works but seems nice its 25 bux

    1. I like the sound of that, but haven’t seen an inexpensive DLNA dongle yet that wasn’t HDMI only. Do you know of one?

        1. Looks interesting, thanks. Would be handy for flinging home movies to my mom’s old TV as well.

  16. As Mike Davis mentioned, this doesn’t compete with the synchronized multi-room, zone controls of a Sonos system in any meaningful way. Is fine for what it is, but the title of the story implies the author doesn’t understand the Sonos feature set.

  17. This is clever. It would certainly be perfect for a Chrome OS-heavy or Android-heavy home network. But, you can buy an older used Airport Express Base Station (MB321LL/A) for less than $40 on eBay, and a new one for $60, which is comparable to the cost of this method. (Maybe best for iOS/Mac, but there are a number of Airplay-capable apps for Android/Windows.) Or, if you’re not locked down to Wi-Fi for range/quality, you could go with the cheapest and only truly platform-agnostic alternative: a 3.5mm stereo bluetooth receiver for $20 (or a little more, for better quality, multiple pairings, etc.).

    1. Agreed. Airplay (actually AirTunes audio streaming) works very well with my Android devices. In fact actually better than my iOS devices. Airstream and AirAudio (both like Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil but for Android) make my Nexus 7 into a source for multiple Airplay speakers, I cannot do this with my Jailbroken iPhone or my wife’s iPad

  18. I don’t think I’d call this a “cheap Sonos competitor” as it doesn’t come close to bringing you the whole-home, multi-zone music experience and software app that Sonos does (as the author does accurately point out). I think I’d refer to this more realistically as a cheap Airplay alternative.

    1. Besides, there aren’t that many “audio-centric” apps that work with Chromecast. I can think of BubbleUPnP, even that is so-so.

  19. it’s a nice idea…but I prefer to have Google Play music chromecasting to my stereo with the TV on so I can see the album artwork while listening to music.

  20. I guess if you really want to use the chromecast…but there’s much better and cheaper solutions. Just go to Radio Shack and pick up a $20 no-contract android phone. It’s got wifi AND a nifty display so you can pick podcasts and what not from it. It’s wifi AND bluetooth enabled, you can run an airplay client on it. Or run Squeezebox client on it for whole home audio. And you can make 911 calls from it in a pinch. You can run and control Pandora or whatever directly from it too. No need for a separate smart device.

    1. And with Cheapcast running, a lot of music programs would just work fine as well. I see the Kyocera Event is on sale at the Shack right now for around $13. Tempting for several reasons.

        1. No, but it would equal a Chromecast piping audio through a VGA adapter, with the addition of being able to run apps locally. Would make a pretty decent dedicated MP3 player too.

          1. Yeah but the idea is to wirelessly pump music or video to a TV or in the case of adding this adapter, just speakers.. So I don’t get why buying a cheap phone is a better option unless it has all the necessary outputs for $20 which in most cases it doesn’t.

          2. The setup in the article is doing exactly two things:

            1) Receiving a Chromecast request.
            2) Shoving the audio portion of that cast out of a 3.5mm audio jack to a stereo.

            The setup in the article is a $35 Chromecast plus a $10 adapter. The cheap phone already has a 3.5mm jack for it’s headset, and thus doesn’t need the adapter. The Cheapcast app is able to work with most existing Chromecast-compatible audio program, such as Pandora, Google Music, and Songza. Run Cheapcast on the phone, plug the phone into a wall socket, plug the stereo into the headphone jack, control Cheapcast from your mobile device of choice. This setup would have the added bonuses of being mobile thanks to the battery, being able to use local apps and files, and wouldn’t be tied down to just Chromecasting…it would be pretty easy to run Airplay or DLNA on it as well. A plethora of upsides. My only concern would be the effect on the phone of constantly leaving it plugged into the wall wart.

      1. Supposedly the popping and crackling that was the major complaint has been cleared up in a recent firmware update. I’m not sure it makes the Pi’s audio non-cruddy altogether, but it would seem to be an improvement.

        1. There was a post on an audiophile forum, saying the rpi is shitty and the guy preferred a android stick with a usb dac.

          1. For rough audio over a headphone cable, the Pi is OK compared to it’s original crappy audio. A USB DAC helps with the Pi, but there are actually several non-USB DACs for the Pi that apparently really boost the audiophile rating. Read up on https://volumio.org/ about alternate DACs for the Pi for more info. I wouldn’t do it because messing with the Pi falls into the “cheap fun” category, and those DACs aren’t cheap.

  21. Or you can simply plug your Chromecast directly into an HDMI port on your receiver…no?

    1. You could, if your receiver has HDMI. But if you have an older receiver or an old stereo that you would like to keep around for parties and such, this is a good solution. Besides that, it also wouldn’t be a bad way to convert an old VGA monitor to Chromecast compatibility. I have an old VGA-only LCD that would make for a great portable “TV” with this adapter.

      1. I have a newer HDMI receiver, but 2nd zone audio is analog only, so this would help me send streaming audio to my patio speakers.

    2. You can… Since I use my audio receiver as an HDMI switch that is how I had set it up in the first place… I guess this is a cheaper option if you don’t have an HDMI receiver

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