Andriy Malyshenko's ESP32 Audio Docks Tweak Espressif's ESP8266, ESP32 for Sound Work

Compatible with PlatformIO and the Arduino IDE, these boards make turning an ESP module into an audio device as easy as possible.

Gareth Halfacree
10 days ago β€’ Music / HW101

Cloud architect and self-described "maker and tinkerer" Andriy Malyshenko has designed a series of boards built to make it easier to use Espressif's ESP8266 and ESP32 systems-on-chips (SoCs) for audio projects: the ESP Audio Docks.

"I spent [the] last few years developing different solutions based on ESP devices," Malyshenko explains. "It all started with [the] ESP8266, where CPU power is not really sufficient to do real-time decoding, so you're limited to rather simple ding-dong business. Then [the] 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 [Pseudo-Static RAM], so you can do decent buffering (essential for streamed content).

Rather than reinventing the wheel every time he began a new audio project, though, Malyshenko chose to designed a series of "docks" which accept third-party ESP8266- or ESP32-based modules and add the missing components required β€” amplifiers, extra RAM, and digital-to-analog converters (DACs). "These are designed," Malyshenko explains, "to be easy to use and straightforward to embed, using off-the-shelf ESP32 modules to minimize costs."

The entry-level ESP Audio Solo uses an Analog Devices MAX98357 DAC and offers a 3W output, and works with ESP8266, ESP32-C3, and ESP32-S2 modules. The ESP Audio Duo, as the name implies, switches to a stereo output and adds on-board SDIO PSRAM for audio streaming β€” accepting an ESP32-WROOM module and giving it similar capabilities to the PSRAM-equipped ESP32-WROVER equivalent.

The HiFi-ESP32 also includes SDIO PSRAM, but targets higher-quality audio with a Texas Instruments PCM5100 DAC and three ultra-low-noise low-dropout (LDO) regulators for power. "As long as your ESP32 [is] pushing data in," Malyshenko claims, "you should expect true Hi-Fi performance." Finally, the Louder-ESP uses a TI TAS5805M DAC and includes an on-board D-class amplifier, capable of delivering 23W on each of its two output channels.

"Short summary," Malyshenko concludes. "For basic audio capabilities you can use Solo model, works with ESP8266, ESP32-C3, and ESP32-S2 hosts. For ESP32 you have a choice of three Hi-Fi-capable devices. One requiring external amp, one reasonably powered, and one unreasonably powered. Each full of fun!"

The design files and source code for each of the ESP32 Audio Dock models is available on GitHub under the permissive Apache 2.0 license. Additional information is available on the project's Hackaday.io page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles