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📜 Feature WiiM Pro, Pro Plus, and Ultra -- inexpensive entry into streaming

Feature article
I've been looking on and off for an affordable unit that anyone could hook to their sound system and get into the streaming world with, which is also flexible enough that it can work with different technologies and not be locked into any one proprietary system.

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I haven't yet tried one of these yet, but what impressed me is that it supports DLNA, Chromecast Audio, AirPlay, and has a full set of inputs and outputs, including both optical and coaxial digital outputs to feed to an external DAC, or to an integrated amp or receiver which accepts digital input. It also has traditional analog outputs. It can work wirelessly via WiFi, but also has an Ethernet input (which I highly recommend for high-res streaming to avoid dropouts). It connects to your network so you can control the device using an app on your phone or tablet*, as most apps can handle at least one of the three casting technologies above. (For anyone using Roon Player, the Chromecast connectivity lets you use the WiiM Pro as a Roon endpoint.)

One thing it apparently cannot do is play back digital files from a USB or network drive. However, there are phone/tablet and computer solutions that could add this capability for an affordable price. The WiiM Pro's purpose in life is to take a stream of data from your network and play it on your attached equipment, so it is a good way to update your system without spending a lot.

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The WiiM Pro also offers Bluetooth connection. While it doesn't offer the better-sounding AptX HD or LDAC options, at least Bluetooth streaming is possible. Anyone looking to stream only Bluetooth would be better served by a device that can handle the higher-quality options. Note that all Bluetooth connections use lossy data compression.




* One thing I have done here at Casa Rudy is purchase a cheap Amazon Fire HD8 tablet for use as a remote for the audio system (Roon Player, Qobuz, Pandora) as well as being able to control other devices in the home like the thermostat and Kasa LED lights and smart outlets, and monitor the security cameras. If you can find an HD8 (or similar) during a sale (like Prime Day, Black Friday, etc.), you can sometimes get these for as little as $60. I have better tablets and two phones, but I figure if anything happens to this HD8 ("stuff" happens in the home), I'm not heartbroken and it's easily replaced.

I would only recommend looking up a procedure online before starting it for the first time to load the Google Play services and store, as you get a much larger selection of apps to choose from.

I would trust this to work better than any of the off-brand cheap tablets out there. It's not the most powerful thing in the world and can get a little laggy at times, but I'll take that over dropping my better tablet on its corner on the ceramic tile floor or lose it inside a recliner and end up crunching the screen.



One suggested upgrade would be to feed this into an external DAC. The internal DAC results in fairly good sound that would serve many listeners well, but adding an inexpensive DAC like the Schiit Modi+ ($129) would elevate the sound noticeably.
 
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Correction--the WiiM Pro does offer Bluetooth, albeit not the higher quality AptX HD or LDAC versions.
 
Update--the WiiM Pro will be on sale for 20% off at $119 on Wednesday July 12th between 8:55am-8:55pm PDT. I previously had it listed for two days when it is only on sale for one of them.
 
Apparently in August, there will be a Pro+ version, which has improved sound quality through its analog outputs. It will have an improved on-board DAC and presumably higher quality components inside to improve on the sound quality. MSRP is estimated to be $50 more than the Pro.
 
Oh my goodness I’ve been waiting for these much needed multi room enhancements. Orders placed. Excitement surge.
 
A lot of the guys over at HiFi Haven have been picking up the WiiM Pro and having good experiences with them--they bought quite a few during Prime Day.

I struggled to come up with ways I could recommend someone adding simple streaming playback to their system, largely for online services, but also for those who store ripped files on a network and want to play them back easily. I'm not too sure on the latter part (I still need to get a unit one of these days and do a full write-up on it), but for connecting to online services it seems to be quite a good option. It plugs into the system like a CD player, and connects to WiFi (and optionally Ethernet, which I prefer). Control is via a phone or tablet. And if you go the tablet route, getting a cheap Amazon Fire HD tablet during one of their major sales during the year is a good option. (I got a Fire HD8 a few years ago--it's cheap enough that if it's damaged, I'm not out much. And at $60 it was cheaper than some of the "all in one" remotes out there.

I use Roon Player--the Roon system isn't cheap (it's a yearly subscription for the software, averaging about the cost of a single CD per month) but it ties Qobuz into my own library of digital files, so it's all presented as a single body of music which makes it simple to operate. Music is easily found, and it integrates Qobuz (and Tidal) to where they appear to be part of the same library, yet are clearly marked so you can tell your own library apart from online versions. But I'll save all that for a separate article one of these days.
 
WiiM has these available on Amazon during the Prime Big Deal Days sale at 20% off. WiiM Pro is $119, and the Pro Plus is $175.
 
The upcoming WiiM Ultra is an entire digital hub for your system.


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For me, the notable addition is the ability to attach your own USB drive with your ripped music files and play them back over this unit, as well as other WiiM devices on your network. That was the one feature missing from the others, although you could still do so in a roundabout way via DLNA (using software like Plex) or as a Roon endpoint on those units (the Pro and Pro Plus). The price (below) puts it on par with what a $120-$150 CD player cost a few decades ago, which still makes this a bargain for the incredible amount of features included.


Pricing and Availability

The WiiM Ultra will be available for $329 in the US on Amazon and select retail partners and rolled out internationally by Q3.


Highlights
  • Premium 32-bit/384kHz ES9038 Q2M SABRE DAC, and high fidelity headphone amplifier TPA6120A2
  • Latest Wi-Fi 6E and BT 5.3 with two antennas offering rock-solid Bluetooth or Wi-Fi audio streaming
  • Elegant aluminum case with 3.5” vibrant touchscreen display covered with glass
  • Built-in room correction takes precise acoustic measurements of your room, creating customized corrections for your speaker and subwoofer.
  • Stream Hi-Res music with the bit-perfect digital output or high-fidelity analog audio (SNR>120dB, THD+N<0.00018%)
  • Versatile streaming options including Spotify Connect, TIDAL Connect, AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast Audio (CastLite), Alexa built-in, DLNA, Roon (in cert), and Squeezelite.
  • Gapless playback of Hi-Res music up to 24-bit/192 kHz using USB, SPDIF, Coax, Line, and Headphone output.

Detailed Tech Specs
  • Audio input
    • Bring your TV audio, recorder player, CD player, or another audio source into the digital world via either analog (RCA, Phono) or digital (Optical, HDMI ARC) port, up to 24-bit/192 kHz
  • Audio output
    • Through either analog (RCA, Headphone) or digital (Coax, Optical, USB) for connecting an amplifier or speaker
    • Wireless to another BT, AirPlay or DLNA receiver
    • Up to 192 kHz/ 24-bit, varying sample rate, and bit depth based on the audio source without resampling via Line out, Headphone, USB Coax, and Optical SPDIF
  • Line out
    • Maximum output: 2.1V RMS
    • SNR: 121 dB (A-wt)
    • THD+N (1 kHz): 0.00018% (-115 dqB) for 44.1k to 192k
    • FR curve: +/- 0.05 dB
  • EQ
    • Tailor your audio experience with versatile and independent EQ settings for each input source – HDMI, Optical, Line, Phono, BT, or Network.
    • Access a robust suite of sound customization options, including 24 preset EQ settings, a 10-band graphic EQ, and an 10-band parametric EQ for precise sound adjustments.
  • Subwoofer output
    • Comprehensive bass management.
    • Adjustable crossover frequency, level, phase, and latency.
  • 12 V Trigger
    • Automatically turns on your stereo receiver or amplifir
  • Connectivity and power
    • 100-240V AC input.
    • Wi-Fi 6E, 802.11 b/g/n/ax 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz triple bands.
    • Bluetooth 5.3 with BLE and BT LE Audio, supports both A2DP receiver and transmitter, AVRCP, HID, works with the WiiM voice remote.
    • Ethernet, 10M/100 Mbps.
  • USB Host for Storage
    • Access personal media library and use it as a media server for other WiiM and DLNA devices
  • Glass-covered 3.5” vibrant touchscreen display
    • Displays App widgets, large album pictures, playback control, playing queue, presets, EQ, audio input and output, and device settings
    • Guides users through the Out-of-Box Experience and firmware updates
    • Provides feedback when there’s a change in the play mode
    • Allows users to customize the wallpaper and display the time and date during standby mode
  • Physical
    • Dimensions: 8.1 x 8.1 x 2.9 inches (205 x 205 x 73 mm)
    • Weight: 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg)
    • LED: 4 Color RGBW LED indicates the device status
    • LCD touch screen: 3.5”
    • Volume knob: Adjust volume and play/pause button with glass cover.
 
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