Tangara is a portable music player that is out to make MP3 players cool again. With an iPod-inspired design and an ESP32 module at its core, Tangara presents an open-source and nostalgic way to listen to your favorite music and podcasts.
The ESP32-WROVER-E at the core of the music player is the main microcontroller but it also features a co-processor, a Microchip SAMD21, which is responsible for USB communication and power management. We have covered the ESP32-WROVER-KIT, a development kit for the ESP32-WROVER and ESP-WROOM-32 line of modules with a JTAG interface and an LCD. The Tangara music player can output audio through a 3.5mm headphone jack or Bluetooth, although Bluetooth is currently limited to the default SBC codec.
Tangara is the brainchild of Australian tech company Cool Tech Zone and is aimed at the portable media player community at large. This is reflected in many of the design choices made by the team. It has a full-color, 1.8″ display and can be controlled via the two side volume buttons and the large, capacitive touch wheel in the middle.
- ESP32-WROVER-E wireless module
- SoC – Xtensa dual-core LX6 processor running at 240 MHz with 520KiB internal RAM
- Memory – 8MiB external SPI RAM
- Storage – 16MiB Quad SPI flash
- Co-processor – Microchip SAMD21E18 Arm Cortex-M0+ CPU @ 48 MHz, with 256KiB flash and 32KiB RAM
- Storage – Standard SDXC card, up to 2TiB
- Display – 1.8″, 160 x 128, full-colour TFT display
- Connectivity – Wi-Fi, USB Type-C, Bluetooth
- WM8523 DAC and an INA1620 amplifier
- Current firmware supports 16-bit audio at 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz, DAC supports up to 24 bits and 192 kHz
- 1x 3.5 mm audio output
- Supports WAV, MP3, FLAC, Opus, and Vorbis codecs
- Bluetooth audio supported (SBC (sub-band) codec only currently. More codecs possible via firmware updates)
- 2200 mAh battery with a standard, 3-pin JST connector
- 1x USB Type-C charging, up to 1 A charge current
- Active battery life (typical) – 20 hours
- Standby battery life in years
- Buttons – 2x hardware buttons, 1x lock switch, and a configurable, capacitive touch wheel
- Misc – 1x ERM (Eccentric Rotating Mass) haptic motor for physical feedback
- Dimensions – 2.26 x 3.98 x 0.87 inches
- Weight – 150 grams
This project is completely open-source and the hardware, software, and firmware are hosted on sourcehut. This means that you can change and tweak any part of the device to suit your taste, and it is also easier to repair, compared to most alternatives. Documentation for the music player can be found on the cooltech.zone website.
The firmware is written in C++17 using ESP-IDF and uses a LevelDB-based database that imposes no limit on the number of tracks that can be stored. The entire UI is written in the Lua language and the international locale support lets you sort your collection according to your language of choice.
Tangara launched on CrowdSupply in early February and it has already blown past its funding goal. The music player is priced at $249 – cheaper than the iPod Gen 1 when it launched – and there is free shipping worldwide. Orders are expected to ship by September 2024.
Tomisin is a writer specializing in hardware product reviews, comparisons, and explainers. He is very passionate about small form factor and single-board computers.