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Hi-Fi Digital Audio from the Echo Dot

Hacking a digital audio output (i2s and/or optical) onto an Amazon Echo Dot V2

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I love my Echo Dot. Its seamless integration with Spotify and voice control is perfect for hands-free music jamming. However, I found the audio quality from the analog output (headphone jack) to be definitely NOT up to the standards set by my modest Hi-Fi system and a $30 USB DAC playing music from my PC.

With this project, I have set out to remove/bypass the Echo's internal DAC and associated analog audio circuitry, and connect an external DAC and/or optical audio output to allow for switching out or upgrading to different DACs at my leisure.

As a secondary goal, I'd like to retain the ability to use the Echo's internal speaker for times when the main stereo system is turned off. However, I'd like to make the Echo smarter about the state of the stereo (so that I don't have to either turn on the stereo or unplug the 3.5mm jack in order to hear Alexa's responses).

Proof of concept video below. See Project Logs section for updates.

  • A Little Progress

    Matt05/18/2018 at 03:44 0 comments

    Small update (still working on this!!):

    Since the last update a few things have happened. I ordered the sainsmart dac based on the pcm5122 as mentioned previously, and (I think) proceeded to kill it. I have a new 5122 chip on the way. In the meantime, I have redone the i2s lines to the pcm5122, beefed up the power supply a bit with a little LC circuit made from parts laying around, and put it all inside the case (sans internal speaker). Even this little 5102 dac blows the stock dac out of the water... For less than five bucks! Will be very interested to see how the 5122 with vastly better power supply and analog components will do. The change will be small for sure, but maybe noticeable. We'll see if it's worth 5x the price of the little 5102 board.

    Also ordered a WM8804 transceiver board, as the eventual goal is to get a digital signal out to a receiver or dedicated dac. It will be a little trickier as it requires a mclk signal, and I haven't yet figured out exactly what frequencies the Echo's various clocks are at. (If anyone has a decent scope and wants to poke around in their echo, let me know!) 

    A few photos:

  • Proof of Concept

    Matt11/10/2017 at 01:55 0 comments

    I took the leap! Today I removed the TI DAC3203 IC (datasheet here) from the Echo's motherboard and broke out the I2S lines to a cheap eBay PCM5102A DAC (datasheet here) board. Aaaaand after a little fiddling with the DAC... success! It works beautifully. Demo video below.

    To-Do:

    - Try out a couple other better DACs such as the Sainsmart HI-FI DAC meant for a Raspberry Pi

    - Test implementation of an I2S to S/PDIF conversion IC (this one) to hook the Echo Dot up to a digital home theater receiver or optical input DAC.

    - Re-instate the Echo's internal speaker, and somehow make it less clunky to switch between using the internal speaker and the audio output. I'd love to be able to somehow detect the status of the amplifier (hooked up/powered on or off) and switch the outputs with a microcontroller, but it seems like the best solution as of now is to voice-control the switch using an esp8266 configured as an alexa "smart home" device. Looking for suggestions here.

    - manufacture a board to add a digital output, and 3D-print a larger volume bottom shell to house the additional board plus the internal speaker.

    - ???

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Discussions

After Dark wrote 10/31/2018 at 17:27 point

Great project!

Did you consider the fact that the problem might be on the headphone amp and not the dac? Changing the headphone amp might make it easier and will allow you to stay as close as possible to stock

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spiyda wrote 06/13/2018 at 00:34 point

Matt, do the volume commands work properly, it wasn't clear from your video..

I have an ES9023 in a box somewhere, tempted to try that.

I was also wondering if the I2C interface could be connected to an external DAC at the same time as the internal DAC, I don't know enough about I2c, maybe someone could comment ?

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Matt wrote 08/07/2018 at 23:27 point

The volume commands do work. I wasn't sure they would at first, but it worked out. Good luck!

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Mark wrote 05/05/2018 at 17:36 point

Nice idea.  Do you or anyone reading know where the audio in could be added to an echo V2 board?

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nobrainer32 wrote 01/17/2018 at 09:46 point

It´s a great idea - a lot of kudos from me.  Any news about the project progress? 

For me just a digital spdif out port would be sufficient. Internal speaker not  essential because I use multiple echos with the multiroom szenario :-)

It would be fantastic if you publish more detailed sketchs / pictures of the setup / where to hook the wires .....

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Matt wrote 05/18/2018 at 17:40 point

HI, I'll definitely add a more detailed guide soon. It's pretty simple.

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Timothy Knab wrote 12/21/2017 at 19:11 point

In looking at the pictures of your setup I was just wondering what the wire that seems to be going from TM14 is for? The 3 coming from the former location of the DAC must be BCK, LRCK, and DOUT, red and black for power but I can't figure out what that last wire is for.

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Matt wrote 05/18/2018 at 17:39 point

Nice, looks like they had the same idea.

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Matt wrote 05/18/2018 at 17:42 point

That last one is MCLK. It isn't needed for the pcm5102, but many other DACs require it. 

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