Nordic Semiconductor nRF5340 Audio DK Review

The nRF5340 Audio DK is a development kit that lets you experiment with Nordics flagship low-power nRF5340 SoC, integrating plenty of pin headers for experimenting with other circuits, audio connectors for connecting to audio inputs and outputs, and even an RF port for directly measuring the radio output (something that only engineers who are unhealthily obsessed with RF would do!). Thus, using this kit, you can create just about any Bluetooth Audio device you can think of while consuming as little power as possible.  

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Why is the nRF5340 Audio DK awesome?

Well, to start, this is an amazing-looking piece of kit and is jam-packed with features to let you go crazy. So, whether you are looking to use this on its own, hook it up to an external breadboard circuit, or even a custom PCB shield, you’ll have plenty of options when prototyping.

Oh, and the support for Arduino shields also lets you stack up your favorite add-ons such as motor controllers, sensors, and interfaces with literally thousands to choose from. Finally, the nRF5340 Audio DK can even act as a USB dongle with a PC to both send and receive audio data, which means that multiple of these DKs can be used together to prototype wireless headphones, microphones, and much more.

Detailed Features of the nRF5340 Audio Development Kit

Delving deeper into the nRF5340 Audio Development Kit, it's evident that Nordic Semiconductor has packed this kit with a plethora of features tailored for audio enthusiasts and professionals alike. Let's break down some of its standout features:

  • Bluetooth LE Audio Capabilities: Designed for seamless audio streaming with low energy consumption, making it ideal for prolonged use.
  • Compatibility with Arduino Shields: Expand your project's horizons by integrating with thousands of available Arduino shields.
  • USB Dongle Functionality: Connect it to a PC and transform it into a wireless audio hub. Imagine the possibilities!
  • Onboard Digital Microphone: No need for external hardware. Start recording right out of the box.
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Nordic Semiconductor nRF5340 Audio DK Board

nRF5340 Audio DK Specifications

First off, at the heart of this board is the nRF5340 SoC, which is a pretty impressive SoC, to say the least. Anyway, the nRF5340 SoC integrates a dual-core architecture whereby one core is dedicated to application code while the other is dedicated to network stacks. In essence, this means that your project will never see performance hits during wireless operation, even when operating in low-energy modes (this low-energy business is extremely important for Bluetooth devices, hence why Nordic brought out this guy). 

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The frequency of the two cores are 128MHz and 64MHz for the application and network processors respectively (which makes sense considering that you would want more oomph in your main program). Additionally, these cores have 1MB and 256KB of flash for program code, and 512KB and 256KB of RAM for data storage (again, the application core has more stuff). The SoC also hosts a multitude of extra yummy features including ARM TrustZone for security, Bluetooth Low Energy radio, NFC, and plenty of GPIO, UART, and I2C busses.


On the Development Kit itself, there are all kinds of I/O, connectors, and devices that you can play with. To start, an onboard battery connector with a charging circuit lets you develop portable devices, while a USB C connector enables power and programming. Two 3.5mm audio jacks are present for driving speakers and microphones, while an onboard digital microphone lets you record without needing external hardware. Multiple pins on the DK allow measuring current and connecting to GPIO, while multiple buttons allow for programmable features such as volume control, track changing, and pausing. 

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An SD card on the board allows for ample data storage (meaning that this could be used as an MP3 player, not that those things exist anymore... when was the last time you saw an MP3 player?!). And last but not least, a power switch lets you turn the DK on and off, which, now I think about it, is often lacking in many development kits.  


What projects can you do with the nRF5340 Audio DK?

So, what can you do with the nRF5340 Audio DK? Well, as the name suggests, this board is perfect for prototyping any Bluetooth Audio project that needs to focus on reducing energy consumption. This could include wireless headphones, intercom systems, recording equipment, and even voice control.

Electromaker community member Knaveen put the nRF5340 Audio DK to good use and built a Stereo System & Spectrum Analyzer

But if you are looking to take the nRF5340 Audio DK to the next level, then you may want to consider integrating it into a smart home system, whereby each room is fitted with a voice command system that allows for streaming data to a cloud server, whereby commands are decoded and sent to appropriate systems, such as locks, windows, blinds, and even kettles for those who are too lazy to get a brew going.

If you are looking to play with device-to-device communication, getting two of these DKs could be useful, as stated in the datasheet. This allows for experimentation with USB dongles connected to a specific Bluetooth device (such as a headset).

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Should you buy the nRF5340 Audio DK?

All in all, the nRF5340 Audio DK is an excellent option for those looking to explore Nordic low-energy products that are used in millions (if not billions) of devices around the world. The DK board gives you a commercial product in a friendly package that allows for ease of prototyping, and the numerous resources from Nordic, including the Nordic Developer Academy, will get you started in no time. 

Ready to Dive into the World of Bluetooth Audio?

The nRF5340 Audio Development Kit is your gateway to endless audio possibilities. Whether you're a hobbyist or a professional, this kit has something to offer. Don't miss out!

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