You don’t need to throw out your good old speakers to add streaming audio to setup. All you need is a streaming audio device. They’re easy to use, and they’re not too expensive.
There are a lot of audio streaming products on the market, though, and they all have different quirks and features. Some are specifically made for Amazon and Google smarthomes, and others are made to add streaming features and whole-home audio to large hi-fi setups.
Lucky for you, we’ve taken the time to find the best streaming audio solutions, for all speakers and audio setups.
Amazon Echo Input ($35)
If you simply want to add streaming audio to your speakers, then the Amazon Echo Input is a cheap, easy option. The Echo Input connects to your speaker via aux cable, and you use Alexa voice commands to control it (even the volume).
Since the Echo Input is basically a miniature, speaker-less Amazon Echo, it works great in an Amazon smarthome environment. You can pair the Echo Input to other Echo devices around your home, or install a few Echo Inputs around your house for whole-home streaming audio.
Google Chromecast Audio (Discontinued)
Really, the Chromecast Audio is a great device for streaming audio to speakers. It’s inexpensive, small, and it works with Google Home products. Sadly, Google recently discontinued the ChomeCast Audio, but you might be able to find one at a local Walmart for as low as $10 bucks, or on eBay for a bit more. (The original price, for reference, was $35.)
Should you go out of your way to find a Chomecast Audio? Well, if you want to save a lot of money or control streaming audio through your Google Home setup, then the answer is a resounding “yes.” Otherwise, it may be easier to look for a different product. The Echo Input is comparably cheap and tiny.
There are some rumors that the next Google Home will have ports to make audio streaming easier, but your patience may not pay off. Wireless audio is the new standard, and the Google Home isn’t marketed as a hi-fi component.
Sonos Connect Amplifier ($379)
Let’s get something out of the way. The Sonos Connect may look like a $378 Squatty Potty, but it’s actually a powerful amp that can bring your old hi-fi components up to speed. Like a traditional amplifier or receiver, you can wire audio sources (CD players, record players) through the Sonos Connect and into your speakers. But you can also use the Sonos Connect to bring streaming audio to your speakers. It can even wirelessly connect to select Sonos speakers, so you can extend your hi-fi setup around your home.
The Sonos Connect has a modern, minimalist style, but you can use more robust controls from the Sonos app on your phone. And since the Sonos Connect is an amp (as opposed to an additional audio source), you don’t have to get up and turn on a bunch of electronics to start listening to music. It’s all controlled over the app.
Of course, the Sonos Connect is a bit expensive. There are cheaper ways to upgrade your hi-fi system, and there are smaller devices that can act as an audio source, in case you want to keep your trusty old amp.
Yamaha WXC-50 Pre-Amplifer ($350)
If you want to add streaming and whole-home audio to your existing amplifier, then you should take a look at the Yamaha WXC-50. It’s a pre-amp with streaming and audio enhancing capabilities, and it’s even capable of playing songs that you’ve downloaded from the internet. You can control the WXC-50 through an app, and it operates over Wi-Fi for whole-home coverage.
The WXC-50 is a great product for people that want to add streaming and whole-home audio to their current hi-fi setup, but it’s expensive. Really, you’re spending most of your money on the whole-home streaming feature, but you’ll need receivers or speakers that are compatible with MusicCast.
Note that Yamaha also sells the WXA-50 amplifier, but it costs $450. The WXA-50 amp (like the Sonos Connect) is a replacement for your amplifier, not just an additional component.
Amazon Echo Link Preamp ($200)
If you have a solid Echo smarthome setup, then the Amazon Echo Link preamp may be the device for you. It’s basically a glorified Echo Input. The Echo Link can stream audio from voice commands, but you have to have an Alexa-Enabled device nearby because the Link doesn’t have a microphone.
You can wire audio sources (CD players, record players) through the Link, which makes it comparable to the Yamaha WXC-50. And really, these audio inputs are the Link’s standout feature, because they allow you to have whole-home audio for a reasonable price. Pair the Link with a few Echo Inputs or Echo Dots, and bang, you can broadcast the audio from your record player around your house.
If you aren’t interested in whole-home audio, then you may as well stick the with Echo Input. It’s a cheap device, and it can add streaming capabilities to any speaker.