AudioCast M5 Pros&Cons
- Small size
- Decent mobile app
- Ease of setup
- No line out
- Limited app compatibility
AudioCast M5 Specs
- Output: 3.5mm stereo analogue
- Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Simplicity is the name of the game here, and the AudioCast comes in some pretty compact packaging. Perhaps in order to keep end costs down, the AudioCast’s packaging is not much wider than the actual device, and only just big enough in depth to house the AudioCast and both of the included cables. On the outside we see a mostly black colour-scheme, along with a few almost-lime accents. The front showcases the same Spotify logo that we see on the packaging of the iEAST Stream Pro, again hinting at who the target user is. Also like the Stream Pro, the sides of the AudioCast’s packaging showcases a few of the features, as well as a list of compatible streaming apps.
What’s in the box?
- AudioCast M5
- USB cable
- 3.5mm Stereo cable
- Quick-start guide
What Is It?
Like the Stream Pro, the AudioCast is a product that allows you to stream music throughout your home over your Wi-Fi network. However, unlike the Stream Pro, the AudioCast does not have any digital or analogue inputs, nor does it have its own remote control (other than the smartphone app). Essentially, its a sub-$50 Wi-Fi streaming device which aims to compete with the Google Chromecast audio.
Unfortunately we do not have a Chromecast Audio at hand to make a direct comparison, however, the Chromecast Audio and regular Chromecast do share the same dimensions. Keeping that in mind, the AudioCast M5 is a bit bulkier than the Google variants. Whilst the the AudioCast is a bit larger in terms of diameter, it’s much more noticeably bulkier when it comes to height.
Something the AudioCast has which is absent from the Chromecast is the inclusion of a WPS button, which makes connecting and setting the device up with your Wi-Fi network a total breeze.
Setting up the AudioCast M5 is rather simple, and requires the user to install either the iEast Play or AudioCast app from either the Google Play store, or Apple’s App store. It is a bit strange that there are 2 different apps, seeing as the iEast Play app works for both the AudioCast M5, as well as the higher-end Stream Pro.
The setup process manily consists of getting the AudioCast M5 connected with to your home network. It really is a simple task, and the app walks you through the entire setup. Honestly, the entire process shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.
As far as the app is concerned, it does need a little work. This is not to say that it’s buggy or anything like that, but there certainly can be some improvements made in terms of the overall ease of navigation and the look of the UI. But again, iEast have really done a fine job overall.
So, the main function of the AudioCast M5 is to (just like it’s more feature-rich and expensive Stream Pro sibling) allow you to setup a both a multi-room and/or multi-speaker setup. The most relevant would probably be the former.
Essentially, you could connect a few AudioCast M5s to the same network, but locate them in different rooms. Of course, each AudioCast M5 would have to be connected to its own set of speakers. Then, using the app, you can play the same music in different rooms, or you could stream different music to each AudioCast M5, and thus have different music playing in each room. Pretty cool, huh?
Of course, the AudioCast M5 is vastly more limited than the Stream Pro, but certainly more powerful in terms of being a high quality audio device than the Chromecast Audio.
The other downside with the Audiocast M5 is that it only has an analogue stereo output, not a line out jack. This is fine if the speakers you connect the AudioCast M5 to don’t already have their own on board amplifiers. However, if you want to connect powered-speakers, or even a better quality external amplifier, then you’d end up with a double-amped circuit. Of course, this isn’t going to blow up your sound system, but ideally you’d want to get the audio signal to be as pure as possible. So, if you end up with the audio signal being amplified twice, all it means is that the sound quality won’t be as pure as it can be. Not the end of the world, but just something that may need to be taken into consideration.
So of course, the real question in terms of value, is how it stacks up to The AudioCast M5s better-known rival; the Chromecast Audio. Pricing is a little difficult to gauge, as the Google device can be found online for around $25-$35, whereas the AudioCast M5 is around $35-$40. So, about the same…ish. Well, being a Google product, the Chromecast Audio does integrate better into the Google ecosystem. For example, in terms of the AudioCast M5, any and all audio must be routed through the iEast Play or AudioCast app. As such, it doesn’t seem possible to, for example, stream the audio of a YouTube video to the AudioCast M5. The Chromecast Audio, on the other hand, has no such limitations as the streaming is done through the Android system, rather than through a singular app. As such, does the AudioCast M5 prosess more or less value than the Chromecast Audio? Until we can objectively compare the 2 against each other and see what the differences are in terms of audio quality, it’s perhaps best not to declare a winner here. Perhaps the saving grace for the AudioCast M5 would be if it integrates better with iOS devices than the Chromecast Audio.
The TECH MERIT rating system is designed to take as many aspects of the product into account as possible, and is generally a good indicator of how it stacks up to its rivals in terms of features and specs.
Look and feel: 6 / 10
Quality control: 9 / 10
Seems durable: YES
Performs as manufacturer claims: 9 / 10
Competitive price-point: 1
Relative value: 9 / 10
Final Rating: 8.3