Stream audio from your computer to your Chromecast Audio Dongle!
Note: I just heard today (Jan 11, 2019) that the Chromecast Audio dongle is no longer being made! This is a real bummer, in my opinion. I'll leave this page up and perhaps those who want it, will find this dongle. I'm very disappointed that it has been discontinued by Google!
The Chromecast Audio is a dongle device that allows a connection between your Google Homes (or your computer) and your stereo system. If you have that old amp and speakers gathering dust, get one of these Chromecast audio dongles and put that system back to work.I bought one when it was on sale for $25. I first used it with my old stereo system (until I found a different solution). Then I moved it to a small stereo amp/speaker set. Finally I moved connected my Chromecast audio to my sound bar. There is where it will remain. When they go on sale again, I'll get another. (They did go on sale again in July 2018 and I once again picked up one for $25. That is my spare Chromecast Audio dongle for experimentation.)
Since I want to talk about integrating your Chromecast Audio dongle with your computer on this page, a further discussion of these dongles are on my main page.
What else will you need?
Besides the dongle, you'll need the means to set it up. If you are already set up with a Google Home, you'll know what is needed.
If you are new to all this, you'll need a way to set up the dongle. You'll need an Android device or an iOS device that is connected to your wifi network. (When setting up the dongles, make sure they are located fairly close to your device as the initial steps are handled through Bluetooth.)
Once your dongle(s) are set, plug them in to your audio amplified speakers.
Your Media Server
I'm sure you have this already in your house. It is just a computer (Windows, Linux, Mac) that is connected to the internet and has the Google Chrome Browser installed. This can be your daily driver machine, or a small computer in your entertainment nook. Some of you might not like to share your wifi connection with your speakers (and IoT devices), so a separate computer can come in handy here. For task, it doesn't need to be a computer with a lot of horsepower.
Note: Because of the upgrade coming in the Chrome Browser, you'll be able to stream your media files right from the browser. When the feature is ready, I'll evaluate and see if VLC still has something extra to offer.
To make your music server even more useful, you can downloaded the latest version of Video LAN (VLC) media player.
To use VLC with your Google cast devices (including the GH speakers), Under the Playback dropdown menu, look for Renderer, and click on it. It will show you a list of available speakers and dongles on your network. This was a recent feature in the 3.0 software update and was the killer feature that loosened my grip on Winamp.
If you have audio files, such as mp3 types, you can play these on VLC and cast them to your speakers. Files with extensions such as m3u can allow streaming of audio from online sources.
But now on to websites and your speakers. Refer to the image at the top of this page. In the upper right corner is an icon that does the cast feature. If you are on a page that is playing audio content, clicking on that icon brings up a dialog box with the choices for which device(s) you wish to cast. It shows all speakers and groups. Click on the one you want.
Your computer speakers will mute and the audio content will be transferred to the speakers and Chromecast Audio dongles that you've chosen. There is an audio level slider and a stop button.
The Killer app!
This site has very nice graphics! It will load slowly on a lower powered computer. Once you enter the site, just use your mouse to drag the world around to the little dots.
This represents a different way of finding stations. It is location centric. But it is so cool! There are hundreds, and perhaps thousands of stations on the map.
A Better Way to Use Radio.Garden
You can save your favorites on the website, but I found that each station can be saved as a bookmark. Your bookmarks can travel with you to each computer on the same Google account too.
I like having these bookmarks out where I can see them, so I put them in the Bookmarks Bar in Chrome. This bar has to be enabled in Google Chrome if not already there.
Click on the 3 dots in the upper right to bring down the settings menu. Click on Bookmarks, and then enable the Bookmark Bar.
Then on the bar, right click and Add folder. Then name the folder Radio Garden or anything else. (I showed it on the main image with the bookmark heading circled in red.) Short names will allow for more tabs. You can make several tabs, maybe for different music genres or geographical area.
To add a bookmark, click the star as always, but make sure to add it in the proper place on the bar. Once you've added the station, right click and take out the Radio Garden name, and edit the name to what you want it to say. By holding down the mouse button, you can drag the link to any position on the dropdown menu. How cool is that? (I impress easily.)
Once you have your stations bookmarked, just click on your favorites and once the station comes alive, then press the cast button and send the sound all over the place.