Home Using WiiM Pro+ as a streaming bridge

Using WiiM Pro+ as a streaming bridge

12

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Great app
  • All usual connectivity

Cons

  • Disappointing result with a better DAC
  • Upgrade of the power supply has limited effect
Build quality
Usability
Sound
Price

Intro

What if you use the WiiM Pro+ with an external DAC? Even before the WiiM Pro+ review was published we got this question. So, we tested it for you.

The WiiM Pro+ offers a lot of value for its 249 euro price. The app in particular is impressive, many manufacturers could learn how to create a seamless working app.

Long live the new king?

Does the WiiM Pro+ then take over the reigns of the current king of streamers under a thousand euros, the BlueSound Node? No, it doesn’t. The Node sounds better when you put them side by side. Then again, the Node is 400 Euros more expensive at the moment. The compromises WiiM makes are simply audible. But equally, WiiM puts BlueSound under pressure with their pricing.

The AKM DAC chip used by WiiM is capable of more than the WiiM Pro+ delivers. We eagerly await the arrival of DACs that will use these new AKM chips. It would give consumers more to choose from than the current deluge of ESS Sabre-based machines up to a thousand euros, most of which are more or less interchangeable in terms of sound characteristics. This is clearly audible in our recent live multitest of streamers.

Using another DAC

But what if you hook up a better DAC to the WiiM? Will you end up owning the best budget-friendly solution with a great app?

We use the 1000 Euro SMSL SU-10 DAC. We guess that in terms of price it resides at the upper end of the bandwidth for those looking to upgrade the DAC. Given SMSL’s popularity, this DAC is a good match for this test, since many will have this model on their wish list as the ultimate upgrade.

For comparison, we used the Primare Prisma NP5 Mk2, a 600 Euro dedicated streaming bridge, which fits within this price category. In terms of sound quality, the NP5 is a benchmark for us in the sub 1000 Euro category. The Prisma app cannot compete with the WiiM app, so we won’t need to dive into this aspect.

How we compared

Alpha Audio wouldn’t be Alpha Audio if we did not conduct a thorough test and explore where the limits of the WiiM can be found.

The streamers are connected to a Supra power strip, so we did not use a power conditioner. Both streamers are connected with standard Cat6a cable to a DLink GS-108 switch.

From our research over the past few years, we know that the power supply largely determines the sonic result. So, we varied the power supply to push the limits.

We have compared two scenarios:

  1. Connect both the WiiM Pro+ and the Primare NP5 with an iFi iPower2. The WiiM with an adapter plug to USB-C provided by iFi. The Dlink switch has its own iFi iPower power supply.
  2. Connect both the WiiM Pro+ and the Primare NP5 with a Pura Dodo. The Dlink switch is connected to the second socket of the Pura Dodo.

The iFi iPower2 is a 70 euro reliable upgrade, which we measured delivering cleaner current than the supplied power supplies from WiiM and Primare. Using the iFi equalises the power supply for the test, so audible differences cannot be attributed to that. This scenario best reflects a home situation.

No one will contemplate to buy a Pura Dodo to power a 249 Euro streamer. We use it to test how far we can push the performance of the WiiM and the Primare. By hooking up the DLink to the same power supply, and the Dodo allows us to do this, we make sure that the electrical signal running over the Ethernet cable between the switch and the streamer carries as little electrical noise as possible. In doing so, we isolate the quality of the Ethernet connection in the streamer as a sound-determining factor as best as we can.

Type test
Multitest
Features
  WiiM Pro Plus
  • Build: Good, solid
  • Sound: Messy, dark
  • Imaging: Up front, diffuse
  • Overall: Not a very good streaming bridge
  • Price: 249
  Primare NP5 Mk2
  • Build: Good, solid
  • Sound: Controlled, transparant, flowing
  • Imaging: Precise in focus, wide and stable
  • Overall: Very well balanced streaming bridge
  • Price: 599

Winkels met Primare

Sint-Antoniusstraat 15
2300 Turnhout, BE
Joseph Bensstraat 21
1180 Ukkel, BE
Bredabaan 1031
B-2930 Brasschaat, BE
Pelikaanstraat 126
2018 Antwerpen, BE
St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Markt 3
3131 CR Vlaardingen, NL
Korevaarstraat 2 e-f
2311 JS Leiden, NL
Koningsstraat 35
2011TC Haarlem, Noord Holland, NL
Theresiastraat 151 - 157
2593 AG Den Haag, Noord Holland, NL
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

Winkels met WiiM

Peizerweg 97A
9727 AJ Groningen, NL
085 071 1860
https://www.soundimports.eu/
info@

12 COMMENTS

  1. Interessante review maar ik herken de resultaten niet. Toegegeven, er zijn veel variabelen maar ik denk dat jullie opstelling niet optimaal was.

    In de review is er veel aandacht voor de voeding maar software en instellingen zijn niet besproken. Dit suggereert dat hier geen aandacht aan besteed is. In mijn ervaring is met digitale apparatuur de software juist een veel belangrijker factor dan voeding.

    Sinds de review is bovendien de WiiM software ge-updated: volgens de documentatie is het nu bit transparant en worden hogere bitrates ondersteund (24/192 ipv 16/44 cq 16/48) wat veel kan verklaren. Uit de documentatie krijg ik daarnaast de indruk dat de WiiM meer geoptimaliseerd is voor Tidal dan voor Qobuz. Ik gebruik Tidal en een ander product, de WiiM Mini (€85), via Wifi.

    Mogelijk werkt Toslink toch beter dan coax omdat daarmee alles galvanisch gescheiden is – analoog en digitaal zijn zo goed gescheiden. WiiM ingesteld op 24bit/192kHz, aangesloten via Toslink op een Weiss DAC202. Voor de WiiM gebruik ik de meegeleverde USB voeding.

    • Hello Marcel. Since you comment on the english version of this article, I’ll respond in English (there’s a language switch in the menu bar, a Dutch version of this article is available).

      The software we used was a bit perfect version, so no, it doesn’t explain the differences. The limits we talk about is in the hardware, so not solvable with software. I think we are quite transparant in how we tested.

  2. Thank you so much for this! Great job showing that it isn´t as simple as buying the cheapest streamer and try to pimp it up. These types of tweaks and comparisons are very interesting since there is not much out there about these things. Keep up the good work!

    • You are welcome. I guess a lot of people simply don’t realise that streamers are build with electrical components and that a digital stream is nothing but an electrical signal representing the data encoded in a binary from. Just as with amplifiers, cd players and record players: the quality of the components matter, not only the power supply.

      • I totally agree with Maty. I have a combo Wiim Pro Plus (249 euros) with IFI Power X power supply 5V (100 euros) used like a streaming bridge to external DAC Loxjie D40 Pro (350 euros). In terms of price it is low end or Mid-FI combo but in terms of sound quality it beats any laptop, RPi streamer, IFI Zen Stream, Eversolo DMP-A6, Bluesound Node and in my system NAD C658 which is streamer DAC with 2000 euro price point. For example, Auralic G1.1 would be a better streamer DAC in SQ but then we are already at a 3000 euros price point. For the money and even up to 1000 euro price range for streamer Wiim Pro Plus has a lot to offer. For me personally, the only downside would be the lack of native DSD support. Big plus is a nice Wiim Home app and easy setup.