AudioCast M5 is a ChromeCast Audio Alternative with Local Audio Files and Multi-Room Support

ChromeCast Audio launched earlier this year together with ChromeCast 2.0 in order to bring ChromeCast experience specifically to audio files via your speakers or audio system. Wireless audio streamer are not exactly new, and I’ve reviewed a few including SoundMate WM201, and the company behind the SoundMate models, UyeSee, has launched a new AudioCast M2 wireless multi-room sound streamer that looks familiar…

AudiocastThe main features of AudioCast M5 are listed as follows:

  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n with WPS button
  • Audio Output – 3.5mm stereo jack
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Multiroom streaming – Stream same song to all speakers, stream different songs to different speakers, stream same or different song to different group speakers using a single smartphone .
  • Streaming from phone’s internal storage, UPnP/DLNA server, online music service including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and more coming with Tital, Dezzer, GoogleMusic, Tunein, etc…
  • Stereo Pairing – Turn two AudioCast M5 into separate left and right speakers.
  • Mobile Apps – AudioCast for iOS, AudioCast for Android.
  • WPS One Botton Click for WiFi Connection: Save complicated and trouble set up procedure.
  • Music Alam Clock with full alarm setting.
  • Auto-Power off with full setting.
  • App color just according to coverart color style.

The company also provided a comparison table matching AudioCast to other audio  streaming solutions like Sonos, Bluetooth Speakers, ChromeCast Audio, and AirPlay receivers.

Sonos Bluetooth Airplay AudioCast Chromecast Audio
Android Compatible Yes Yes No Yes Yes
iOS Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compatible with Airplay Streams(from Mac OSX,iOS and iTunes) No No Yes Yes No
Compatible with Laptops/Computers Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Lossless Audio Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Play from NAS Yes No No Yes No
Play from UPnP Yes No No Yes No
Play from Online Service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Music Alarm Clock Yes No No Yes No
Sleeping Timer Yes No No Yes No
Software number Playlist No No No Yes No
Standard Wi-Fi,with Full Home Netoork Range Yes No No Yes Yes
Multi-Room,Expandable System(Synchronous) Yes No No Yes No
Multi Streams from Different Sources Yes No No Yes No
Multi-Zone Streaming from a Single Device Yes No No Yes No
Left/Right Stereo Speaker Pairing Yes No No Yes No
WPS Quick Connection Yes No No Yes Yes

I think they compare features out of the box, as ChromeCast Audio also supports local file streaming via various methods, more or less user-friendly. They also did not mention ChromeCast Audio supports 802.11ac and features an extra optical S/PDIF output to connect to “non-smart” amplifiers and AV receivers.

The device ships with an audio cable with a 3.5mm jack in both ends, a micro USB to USB cable for power, and a user’s manual in English.

AudioCast_M5_HardwareFor those of you that wonder about the hardware implementation, I’ve got a sample here that I opened. The design is interestingly comprised of a module with WiFi and storage, and a baseboard with all the ports.

Ralink_RT5350F_Audio_moduleIf you were expecting some brand new WiFi audio solution, you’ll be disappointed as the device is based on Ralink RT5350F WiSoC.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

The other side of the WiFi board has a Windbond 9825 series flash (256Mbit), and the baseboard features a chip that read JC AC1543CG4NIG-E, but I can’t find any reference to this IC on the web.

AudioCast M5 can be purchased on Amazon US, Aliexpress and DealExtreme for $36 to $40. More details can be found on AudioCast website.

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32 Replies to “AudioCast M5 is a ChromeCast Audio Alternative with Local Audio Files and Multi-Room Support”

  1. I have a SoundMate WM201 and the stupid thing is it only works through a smartphone. I thought the smartphone would be the remote, but that is not true. If you play local music (from the usb port) and you walk away (or You switch your phone off) the music stops. I didn’t found how You can play a bunch of songs, you have to select a new song everytime. For upnp it’s the same, your qmartphone should connect to a upnp device and then stream the song to the soundmate. You can’t connect the soundmate directly to the upnp server, at least I didn’t find how to do it.
    It should be fine if they released openwrt firmware so You can install what you want on the soundmate, for example mpd or a upnp client.

  2. The problem with devices of this type is that they can’t stream from the streaming music services – like Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Rhapsody, etc. Chromecast can stream from the streaming services. So the devices aren’t close to being similar.

    It does annoy me that the streaming service players are DRM locked. This company is not going to be able to add support for these services with going through a major amount of hassle negotiating with each service. It is stupid that the market is like this, but that’s what the music studios have done to it.

  3. @Jon Smirl
    There’s a sticker on the package reading “Spotify for music”, and icons for Pandora, TuneIn and iHeartRadio. The specs also mentions that “Tital, Dezzer, Google Music, etc..” are coming soon.

    Or do you mean it can only happen via the phone?

  4. Yes, it is deceptive and a lot of these devices advertise it that way. The only way to get those services will be Bluetooth streaming from your phone.

  5. There is an old Spotify library on github that will allow them to directly connect to Spotify. But it is not licensed for commercial use. Spotify is going to disable it sooner or later.

  6. With the chromecast, the phone is just remote-control, you can poweroff the phone and the cc would still play music (streamed directly) from the sources (spotify, vevo, etc.)

    Not sure this one can do that, unless they completely reverse-engineered the cc audio.

  7. Because of DRM it is not possible to capture the streaming audio on a phone and resend it using Wifi. It is easy to add this capability to a rooted phone, but on a non-rooted phone it is not possible. This is a very annoying and silly artificial limitation imposed by the DRM people.

    Without root, you are stuck using Bluetooth. DRM dummies’ rationale is — Bluetooth is not high quality, and Bluetooth is point to point (not a network).

  8. One solution to this is to Miracast your phone. But that has issues because a lot of CPU and bandwidth is consumed sending the unwanted video over wifi. Miracast is not the most reliable thing either.

    It is just silly that you can Miracast the entire phone environment and not send just the audio. But no one has ever said the DRM dummies were rational.

    Miracasting also incurs a lot of loss uncompressing the original music and then recompressing via the Miracast protocol.

    Miracast apps are installed with root permission. If you have root, you can write apps that only send the audio – ie a stripped down Miracast.

  9. RT5350F? It’s been a long time since we found a module for running OpenWrt without hacking into all consumer wireless router products out there.

    Then… AR9331 came in and then it’s time for MediaTek MT7620N, MT7620A, and now we’re heading to MT7621.

    Very surprised that this chip still alive!

  10. Much simpler solution is to simply buy an Android STB with optical out (TOSLINK). Then send the optical out into your stereo. Optical out is digital CD quality. Digital CD is better than most any streaming service. Only Tidal offers it. If you have a newer receiver it can pick up the audio off from the HDMI output. Turn on your TV on to start music streaming, then just turn it off. This is what I do in my home theater.

    You can also use a cheap tablet in similar fashion. Plug the headphone out into your stereo input. Now you don’t need a TV.

  11. @Iridiumsat
    RT5350F is on EOL status. When the current giant piles of RT5350F are gone there will be no more. But there are some pretty big piles of chips to work through. Can’t tell for sure but likely in the millions. Of course this makes the RT5350F dirt cheap to use.

  12. Not obvious to me about how this thing is implementing Bluetooth. If AC1543CG4NIG is the Bluetooth chip, where is the antenna for it? It can’t be sharing the antenna with that off-the-shelf RT5350 module.

  13. @Oren E

    You can do Spotify with that old library that is explicitly marked “not for commercial use”. Songza is also easy to implement. What else can it stream?

    Did they manage to get Spotify to give them a Spotify Connect license?

  14. Looks like there is an iHeartRadio library out now. Let’s see about “more coming with Tital, Dezzer, GoogleMusic, Tunein, etc…” Google basically told me to go away when I applied for a GoogleMusic license. Spotify won’t return my calls or email. etc, etc.. Good luck getting the streaming services to play ball with you if your name isn’t Sony, LG, Denon, Yamaha, etc.

    But maybe they have come up with some solution that I am unaware of. I installed their app but it won’t do anything without their hardware.

  15. Jon Smirl :
    Much simpler solution is to simply buy an Android STB with optical out (TOSLINK). Then send the optical out into your stereo. Optical out is digital CD quality. Digital CD is better than most any streaming service. Only Tidal offers it. If you have a newer receiver it can pick up the audio off from the HDMI output. Turn on your TV on to start music streaming, then just turn it off. This is what I do in my home theater.
    You can also use a cheap tablet in similar fashion. Plug the headphone out into your stereo input. Now you don’t need a TV.

    Chromecast audio has optical out. Google Music streams hi-res music to the cc audio. Not sure what format it streams to no-name Android STBs.

  16. The company sent me some more info about the device, especially streaming services:

    Get authorization from Spotify, iHeart Radio, Pandora, QQ music, Qingting FM, XiMaLaYa, TTPod
    After Chinese spring festival, will support TIDAL, Google music
    In Apr, this device will integrate Google cast protocol, that means all contents that Google chromecast has, we will have.

  17. @Jon Smirl
    Jon perhaps you should go and purchase an Audiocast and compare it directly with Chromecast audio.
    I can also confirm that it does stream directly from all supported services with out the app running. (Phone shut down after playlist setup).
    Audio quality is slightly better on the Audiocast than Chromecast audio whilst using 3.5mm jack but as there is no optical on the Audiocast I could not compare this feature.
    For me the Audiocast is much more fluid & simplistic for anyone to use and multi-room multi-source streaming is a breeze through the app.
    Honestly this device has a lot going for it and it’s good to see something else out there giving Google a run for their money!

  18. There are two problems – 1) No good quality high output powered speakers with only amplifiers and speakers to accept this device or chromecast audio inputs, Need a high quality stripped down SONOS speaker system. 2) Every company is coming up with their own WIFI protocols, SONOS, Samsung, Harmen Kardon, LG, this SoundCast Audio device, so can’t mix and match speakers, you commit to one brand and are stuck. It you pick the wrong choice, good luck. CCA was designed to prevent that, but nobody has speakers that support CCA at a decent price.

    Then from what I’m hearing about Google Cast built into speakers is also not panning out. Companies slow to adopt, LG doesn’t update timely the firmware updates of the google cast protocol.

    Why is it so difficult to have a SONOS type product that is simply a stripped down SONOS without the brains, let the CCA audio handle that part, no WIFI, no apps, no bluetooth, just power supply, speaker box, speakers, amp, and aux input.

  19. For what it is worth, it looks like this thing is using an Everest Semiconductor ES7240 DAC chip. Specs are good where they don’t matter (24bit samples, up to 192KHz sample rate), acceptable (but not great) where they do matter: S/N and THD.

    Of course, PCB/device design matters more than the DAC chip specs, and software that works well, easily, is important too. Not clear that this device is a big win on any of those fronts.

  20. Wrong!!! this module stream from all cloud services and Airplay including.
    If you use the APP MUZO the module connects directly to internet ( your phone acts like a remote of spotify)

  21. Unable to play without WIFI, it asks for a password when I try to use the Audiocast hotspot, the router WIFI password does not work. is there a default password I’m supposed to use

  22. hello
    after so many years what other options we have.
    I remind you that Google announced the end of chromecast audio.
    I bought few but I need more simple devices like this one or the chromecast.

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