ESP Audio Docks with onboard PSRAM

ESP Audio Docks is a range of extension boards (i.e. docks) that allow you to develop Audio solutions based on ESP32 chips.

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I spent last few years developing different solutions based on ESP devices. It all started with ESP8266, where CPU power is not really sufficient to do real-time decoding, so you're limited to rather simple ding-dong business. Then ESP32 came, bringing two much more capable cores, so you have powerhouse to handle communication and decoding at the same time. Perhaps most importantly it also came with PSRAM, so you can do decent buffering (essential for streamed content).

Now new ESP32 C-Series and S-Series chips are entering the market, and their potential is mostly unrealized as of today.

I created those docks, to be able quick prototype for whole range of ESP8266 and ESP32 chips (including ESP32C3 and ESP32S2), starting with the simplest finger-sized toys and going all the way up to full-sized speakers.

These are designed to be easy to use and straightforward to embed, using off-the-shelf ESP32 modules to minimize costs.

I prepared 4 dock models to use. 

Smallest in the range is ESP Audio Solo model, which is basically single MAX98357 DAC taking power from 5V rail, delivering single 3W mono channel output.

It is compatible with ESP8266, ESP32C3 and ESP32S2 mini modules and aiming entry level tasks, as all of the listed chips are single-core entry-level performance chips.

Next in the line ESP Audio Duo model, designed to work together with ESP32 mini module. Having some experience with audio related projects, it is clear that for audio streaming SPIRAM is the must (for buffering purposes). So I've decided to place PSRAM chip on the board, so any of-the-shelf ESP32-WROOM module gain WROVER capabilities, as soon as inserted into the dock. Plug in play, no further changes needed.

ESP Audio Duo adds stereo output, otherwise is is the same DAC and similar performance times two.

Next in the line HiFi-ESP32 driving PCM5100 DAC. It lacks power amplifier on the output, so normally you would need external amp. It is capable driving headphones though.

HiFi-ESP32 also has SPIRAM chip onboard. 

To make sure DAC performance is not compromised, it is powered from three independent Ultra-low-noise LDOs. As long as your ESP32 pushing data in, you should expect true Hi-Fi performance.

Last in the line is Louder-ESP driving TAS5805M DAC with D-class AMP. It is top performance part and it is capable to deliver 2 channels of 23W each to 8 Ohm load, so it is quite beefy. Clearly it requires external power source, so step-down voltage converter is added to generate 3.3V for ESP32 to use, when it is not connected to the USB. 

Like the rest of the line, SPIRAM chip is onboard.

This is real beast for grownups and a bit of "how to overdo ESP32 DAC". But hey, why not?

Short summary. For basic audio capabilities you can use Solo model, works with ESP8266, ESP32C3 and ESP32S2 hosts. For ESP32 you have a choice of 3 Hi-Fi capable devices. One requiring external amp, one reasonably powered and one unreasonably powered. Each full of fun! 

  • ESPHome support

    andriy.malyshenko06/12/2024 at 09:41 0 comments

    I spent some time lately playing with Home Assistant. What can I say, it is brilliant. So easy to use with ESPHome integration and so many nice things you can implement with ease.

    One of the things I didn't realize, is how easy it is to use ESP Audio docks with Home Assistant. It is a 2-minute job to onboard the device to the system, and then you can use it for playing audio or doing voice announcements.

    So far I've implemented

    - 'Announce hour' automation that is super helpful in the home office

    - For similar reasons 'Cuckoo clock' but also just for fun

    - Integrated Google calendar to announce next meeting one minute in advance

    Anyway, details are here, if you want to follow my steps

  • Squeezelite-ESP32 support

    andriy.malyshenko11/16/2023 at 20:45 0 comments

    Recently few people contacted me regarding support of squeezelite-esp32. I did some test long ago, and it felt like LMS is a nice piece of software and had few cool features for it's time, but frankly feels out of loop in 2023.

    Well, I was wrong. Today it supports both Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect, not mentioning Bluetooth connectivity. Actually for ESP32 power house that is much more than you'd expect. Especially the Team working on Squeezelite-ESP32 is actually spent some good time working on stability and [using it for a few days] so far I had no crashed or weird behavior.

    Long story short, guys confirmed me that it is okay to pre-flash Squeezelite-ESP32 before selling them, as well as simply advertise it's support.

    I put step-by-step instruction to help others to setup Squeezelite-ESP32 on the project's github, and welcome everyone to give it a try.

  • New revision came fresh from factory

    andriy.malyshenko05/26/2023 at 09:39 0 comments

    After working with Louder ESP for a while I discover few improvements that I'd like to introduce. 

    First, I wanted to add barrel jack, so I can use off the shelf power sources. For testing you can use small 9-12V wall power sources, that you can buy for a few bucks. I decided to keep bolt connector though, as it be more useful for stationary setup.

    While I had a chance I also improved labeling on the board, essentially placing all the polarity marks. I should have done that in the first revision really.

    Having those changes, Louder ESP is back in stock and available for purchase on Tindie

View all 3 project logs

  • 1
    How to flash and configure ("ESP Audio Duo", "HiFi-ESP" and "Louder ESP" supported) using nothing but browser

    Use Squeezelite-ESP32 installer to flash firmware first.

  • 2
    Use Generic/I2S profile


  • 3
    Connect device to USB port and select if from the list


View all 13 instructions

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