A few years ago (2015) I was inspired by a presentation about Internet Of Things. For me this marked the start of developing connected devices and improve existing solutions in the field of audio. My goal was to develop a simple solution to stream music from your phone (or other music storage devices) in HiFi quality to your own speakers. A not-so-common solution at the time.
The first product I developed was the IOM1: a Wi-Fi connected audio device based on the Raspberry Pi with an in-house designed DAC board connected to a Hypex amplifier. This worked fine, we sold some units, but this was not the perfect solution I was aiming for. Drawbacks for example:
- Not that user friendly, you had to flash/use a SD card
- Not simple: difficult to integrate into a home Wi-Fi network; threshold technical knowledge level needed
- Low penetration of needed software solutions in popular music streaming solutions (like Spotify)
- Relatively expensive
Then the Google Chromecast audio was launched. I was blown away: what a technology for so little money!
Characteristics of Google Chromecast audio:
- Wi-Fi network for first time use
- Integrated in lots of music streaming services (like Spotify)
- Very good HiFi quality
- Cheap (about €35)
I had to do something with this. Therefore I stopped IOM1 and developed the IOM Chromecaster. To match the high quality sound level of the Chromecast audio we decided to use a top level amplifier: the Hypex Ncore. This is an excellent solution because it delivers high-end sound quality but is also very compact and energy efficient. Perfect for an Internet-Of-Things solution.
The IOM Chromecaster has become a nice, usable and affordable product to stream music from different streaming services and storage devices without compromising audio quality.
Later on we received lot’s of questions (and compliments about the lean and compact design) if more amplifier boards are availlable without the Chromecast unit. Slowly our portfolio is increasing.