AV Quick Takes: The $149 WiiM Pro High Resolution Music Streamer
You might not be familiar with the company Linkplay Technology Inc., which launched in 2014 with the goal of offering premium smart-home experiences through simple and affordable connected products. But its team of tech entrepreneurs and engineers, coming from places like Google, Broadcom, and Harmon, must have serious chops when it comes to developing the hardware, software, and user interface solutions for streaming audio. How do I know? The company’s WiiM sub-brand makes the $99 WiiM Mini streamer that has been at the heart of my girlfriend’s audio setup for the last year or so. Connected to an older pair of powered speakers with no streaming smarts of their own, this tiny WiFi device has been flawlessly serving up Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2 with practically zero issues. When it comes to audio, Hannah wants something that just works, with no fuss. And in that regard, the WiiM Mini has been a godsend, especially compared to her previous Bluetooth DAC, which suffered from connectivity issues and dropouts. The WiiM Mini has a 3.5mm stereo analogue output, but the internal DAC is nothing to write home about. No matter — there’s an optical digital output, which can be connected to any DAC you choose (or to any AV receiver, integrated amp, or pair of powered speakers with a Toslink input). Being so tiny, the WiiM Mini doesn’t have room for much else in terms of inputs and outputs, but the new WiiM Pro ($149) solves any potential connectivity issues, and adds additional functionality.
Like the WiiM Mini, the new WiiM Pro offers Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect, along with Apple AirPlay 2, DLNA, and support for Qobuz, Amazon Music, Deezer, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more. Soon, the WiiM Pro will even be certified Roon Ready. The WiiM Pro also adds Chromecast Audio support, which isn’t (currently) supported by the Mini. I specify “currently,” because WiiM has issued a number of highly effective firmware updates during the time that Hannah has had her Mini, and its list of capabilities continues to grow. Chromecast Audio is a nice addition, as it gives users the option to cast YouTube Music, TV audio, radio stations, podcasts, and local content directly from any Chromecast-enabled app. Both WiiM streamers can be controlled by the surprisingly clean and responsive iOS and Android app, which offers a 10-band digital equalization and a manual graphic EQ. Or use Siri, Alexa, or Google’s voice assistant (Google is available on the WiiM Pro only). Or use the physical remote, available for an additional $20. The app also allows multiple WiiM streamers to be grouped together for whole-home audio, and they can even be grouped with Apple HomePods or Amazon Echo speakers. The Pro adds the ability to be grouped with Nest speakers, and it works with Alexa Multiroom with UHD, as well.
The WiiM Pro was designed with one goal in mind: to provide users with the best possible sound experience for serious audiophiles and general music lovers alike. As audio equipment has modernized, it’s simultaneously cornered users into choosing one ecosystem – typically at a hefty price tag. The WiiM Pro gives the control back to the user. It’s an affordable solution that lets you bring together all of your favorite audio equipment into one place and control it right from your smartphone, not only letting you give your favorite equipment new life, but also making your everyday listening easier.
— Lifeng Zhao, CEO of Linkplay Technology
Though still fairly compact at 5.5 inches square and 1.6 inches tall, the WiiM Pro has enough real estate on its back panel to provide more input and output options than the tiny Mini. The Pro replaces the Mini’s 3.5mm analogue input and output with standard RCA jacks, and adds a Toslink input for use with a TV or gaming console. It also includes a coaxial digital output and an ethernet port, neither of which is found on the Mini. Both streamers are capable of playing back bit-perfect high-res audio up to 24 bit/192kHz, and gapless playback is supported as well. The WiiM Pro’s integrated TI stereo DAC promises “106dB SNR, high dynamic range, and -92dB THD+N performance.” Most audiophiles will use the digital outputs to connect to a higher-quality DAC, but it’s nice to have the built-in DAC for convenience. It also allows budding music-lovers to start with the built-in DAC and upgrade down the line as funds allow. The WiiM Pro is available now on Amazon.
More information: WiiM Pro
Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!