Friday
May 25, 2018

DIY Home Entertainment System

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DIY Home Entertainment System

Looking for an affordable solution to stream audio and multiroom musical entertainment for your next open house? Here’s a do-it-yourself project you may want to try.

It doesn’t require a lot of time or money to set up a cost-effective multispeaker streaming solution. In this DIY home entertainment project, we’ll show you how to use the $35 Chromecast Audio and your existing audio equipment to wow both your clients and prospective buyers at the same time.

What You Need

  1. A Chromecast Audio device
  2. A radio or set of powered speakers with an auxiliary input

Basic Audio Setup

Setup for a basic system is straightforward, as the Chromecast Audio comes with a short line-in connector and a micro USB power supply with a cable nearly 6 feet long. This works out well since you can likely attach the tiny Chromecast Audio close to the line-in socket of your radio, but the power supply can be far away.

Once you’ve taken the Chromecast Audio out of the box, simply plug it into your radio or speakers’ auxiliary jack and connect it to power using the AC adapter that comes with it. Select “line in” as the audio source for your radio or speakers, if required. Download the Chromecast app onto your phone or tablet, and set the Chromecast up to interface with your Wi-Fi network using the app or a computer. If everything is done correctly, you’ll hear a test tone from the Chromecast to let you know it’s ready to play audio via your favorite streaming service, including apps such as Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio.

If you have any issues with setup, you can always use your phone or tablet as an audio source with the line-in cable to verify that your radio or speakers are set up correctly. Additionally, you may pick up static when the Chromecast is installed. Try repositioning your Chromecast or use a longer line-in cable if necessary to eliminate this annoyance.

Home Theater

A home theater system is a great way to set the mood at a showing with full-surround audio in a central location. When I installed my set of Chromecasts, I used a basic radio with a line-in jack that could be connected without much effort. I also have a home theater system that I was able to connect to using a standard RCA jack. I used a generic RCA jack, but jacks are also available from Google, as well as an optical (TOSLINK) adapter if you need it. They both come in the distinct yellow color of the included 3.5 mm stereo cable.

Setup of the home theater was much the same as with my basic radio; however, I had to be sure to select the correct input connectors out of many on the back of the receiver. In this case I used the “CD” jacks, which then had to be selected as the input source. Depending on when your receiver was made, you may have to be creative with this setting, since a “Chromecast” input is likely not an option. I used the SA-CD/CD/CD-R setting, but TV, SAT, DVD, and VIDEO1 could also be choices. Just ensure that whatever connector you use is the one you select in terms of the source.

In case there were issues with the receiver, I made sure the Chromecast was successfully set up first using the basic radio as outlined earlier, then moved it to the home theater receiver.

Once I verified everything was working correctly, I set up my universal remote control with a “Listen to CDs” option. This kept the television off while adjusting the audio settings to receive the Chromecast input. That way streaming can be started with only your tablet or phone, without worrying about the universal remote control.

Using Multiple Chromecast Audios at Once

One audio source is nice, but the real magic of a device like this is being able to walk from room to room and hear your selected music or podcast emanating from several sets of speakers. Fortunately, several of these devices can “play nice” with each other. Just group them together with your device, and the speakers you’ve selected will turn on and play the same audio.

One helpful hint when setting this up is to name your units depending on the “geography” of your space. It’s easier to select the Chromecast in the master bedroom when it’s labeled “bedroom” than to choose between their default names.

If you’ve never tried a streaming device like this, I highly recommend it. The price is low, setup is straightforward, and considering the access to music it gives you, it’s hard to beat this little disk!

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