Every once in a while a device comes along that neatly tackles what feels like a big and potentially costly problem with a simple solution that doesn't break the bank. It's a rare find, for sure, but the WiiM Pro music streamer priced at $149 / £149 / AU$228 is one such device, and I'm really impressed by its performance at the price.
Like a Chromecast or Apple TV for your audio system, the WiiM Pro music streamer is aimed at audio lovers looking to bring all the modern day music streaming smarts and multiroom integration to traditional speaker and amp hi-fi setups, and it's remarkably easy to install and use.
With some of the best music systems costing several hundred dollars, or even thousands of dollars if you're a discerning audio fan seeking luxury styling, I can see the appeal of a simple add-on device to upgrade an existing stereo speaker system with access to the best music streaming services. As an audio expert, I know that most add-on streaming solutions with this level of versatility will set you back at least twice as much, and often a good deal more.
I've lost count of the number of times I've given advice on exactly this topic, helping fellow audio lovers that have built a traditional music system that has a sound they love with CD and vinyl playback, to add music streaming smarts without replacing the traditional components, or breaking the bank. As an audio expert, this has pretty much been my day-to-day, helping family, friends, and readers achieve audio nirvana and embrace new ways of connecting to their favorite music.
In the world of the best Bluetooth speakers, a traditional Hi-Fi setup might seem archaic. But to those with a fascination for vintage audio components, adding a streaming device like the WiiM Pro really does mean anyone with a vintage audio setup can continue to enjoy the physical formats they love while exploring the brave new world of music streaming.
WiMM Pro: A low cost streaming genius
Any streaming product lives or dies by the implementation of its user interface (UI). I'm pleased to say, then, that the WiiM Pro app made installation and navigating my steaming service subscriptions a breeze. Simply connect the WiiM Pro to a home Wi-Fi network, and sign in to the streaming apps you already subscribe to or want to sign up for.
From there you can browse your favorite tracks, albums, and playlists within the WiiM app, which mostly mimics the streaming services' own interface. If you've used a streaming service before, then the WiiM Pro's interface should make complete sense to you. If not, then it's an intuitive and well thought out interface, and I loved how smoothly I was able to jump between playlist libraries for different streaming services without the UI hiccuping.
With the stereo analog output connected to my integrated amplifier, the WiiM Pro showed its audiophile credentials, and it's good to see a pair of audiophile RCA connectors being used rater than a lesser quality 3.5mm jack socket.
Sound quality from the stereo analog output was decent enough, and will impress most entry-level audiophiles with its sound quality. Only the slightly hard treble details give away any indication as to the WiiM Pro's budget price tag.
The built-in TI stereo DAC supports up to 24-bit/192kHz music files, meaning you can stream full hi-res from the likes of Qobuz Studio and Tidal HiFi subscription tiers, and appreciate the boost ins audio resolution. For audiophiles with more upmarket Hi-Fi systems, though, connecting via one of the digital outputs to an external DAC is likely to better the performance of the WiiM Pro's built-in DAC, although this will increase the cost.
Other streaming solutions are available, of course, and models like Sonos Port ($449), BlueSound Node ($599), and NAD CS1 ($349) spring to mind as alternative solutions, but the WiiM Pro is the most affordable I've seen so far.
The low price doesn't mean quality has been sacrificed, though. The WiiM Pro feels nicely built, and has a full suite of connectivity ports at the back, including analog stereo, coaxial and optical digital outputs; analog stereo, coaxial and optical digital inputs; Ethernet, IR trigger, and USB-C power. The non-descript black box is not much larger than the Apple TV 4K streamer. It feels similarly neat, and the layout of physical connectivity on the back doesn't feel overcrowded despite all the options.
Touch controls on the front give basic playback navigation and volume level control, but for everything else, the app is where it's at. Wireless connectivity runs to Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Alexa Casting, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, and Bluetooth. Most of the main music streaming platforms are embedded in the WiiM Pro app for iOS and Android. Apple Music is a notable omission from the roster of music streaming services. Although, it's important to add that you can use AirPlay 2 to connect to the WiiM Pro from your Apple device and play Apple Music that way.
Despite a few downsides, the WiiM Pro is one of the most versatile streaming add-ons I've encountered so far. Its smart UI, flexible connectivity options means it's able to accommodate just about any streaming scenario I can think of, making it my favorite go-to tool for music fans with traditional audio setups looking to embrace the world of music streaming and multiroom connectivity.