WiiM Pro Review: Add Smarts to Your Speakers and Audio Gear on the Cheap


Rating:
7/10
?

  • 1 – Does not work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 – Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 – Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 – Best-in-class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price: $149

Top-front angle of the WiiM Pro
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

Wireless speakers are great, but sometimes you want to listen to a true stereo hi-fi setup. The only problem is getting your stereo to work with your wireless network isn’t easy. This is the exact problem the WiiM Pro is designed to solve, adding wireless connectivity to your audio gear.

The WiiM Pro connects to your stereo receiver or amplifier and makes it easy to stream music from anywhere. Other devices like this exist, but unlike the WiiM Pro, they often cost closer to $500. This handy gadget offers a much cheaper path to wireless and even multiroom audio.

The WiiM Pro can also take other audio equipment like turntables and let you cast them wirelessly to speakers located throughout your entire home. Is the WiiM Pro attempting too much at once, or can this little streamer actually deliver on its bold claims?

Here’s What We Like

  • 24-bit/192kHz lossless audio
  • Receives and broadcasts Bluetooth audio
  • Supports AirPlay and Chromecast
  • Sounds great for the price
  • Super affordable compared to the competition

And What We Don’t

  • No support for Apple Music or YouTube Music in the WiiM Home app
  • Build feels somewhat flimsy
  • No included remote

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Looks Familiar

WiiM Pro front panel buttons
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek
  • Dimensions: 5.5in x 5.5in x 1.6in (140 x 140 x 42mm)
  • Weight: 11.64oz (330g)

At first glance, the WiiM Pro looks like an Apple TV, just larger and bulkier. This also means that it looks an awful lot like the Sonos Port, a competing product that, at $449, costs considerably more.

We’ve seen plenty of clones before, but that’s not what I would call this, as the differences are as interesting as the similarities. Of course, you can safely assume that the WiiM Pro uses cheaper materials, but considering you’re not toting it around like a Bluetooth speaker, that’s not much of an issue.

More interestingly, this has features you won’t find on the Sonos Port. For example, while you control the Port entirely via the Sonos app, the WiiM Pro features four capacitive touch buttons on the front of the unit.

This may not seem like a huge deal, but if you left your phone in the other room and want to pause the music, it’s useful to have the option.

All the Ins and Outs

Ports on the WiiM Pro
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek
  • Inputs: RCA line in, SPDIF in
  • Output: Line out, SPDIF out, Coaxial out
  • Networking: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Ethernet (100M)
  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC

Looking at the back of the WiiM Pro, you’ll find a useful assortment of both outputs and inputs. Looking at the outputs, you get an analog RCA line output as well as a pair of digital inputs: one coaxial and one optical. With these, you should be able to connect the WiiM Pro to almost any stereo or powered speaker.

The inputs are where things start to get interesting. The RCA analog line input, for example, lets you plug in any turntable and play it wirelessly in other rooms. The optical digital input lets you do the same with CD players, DVD players, or computers.

The inputs and outputs are joined by a USB-C connection for power and an Ethernet port for a more solid network connection. Unless you’re using the coaxial input, you shouldn’t need to shop for extra cables, as you get an RCA cable and an optical cable in the box.

Of course, wired connectivity is only part of what makes the WiiM Pro useful. It also features Wi-Fi, including AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support, streaming from a DLNA server, and both Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. These supplement the WiiM Home app (available for iPhone and iPad as well as Android), which we’ll look at in-depth in a little bit.

Finally, the WiiM Pro also supports Bluetooth, but in a manner you don’t often see. You can connect to the WiiM Pro via Bluetooth to play music from your phone, as you’d expect, but you can also pair headphones or a Bluetooth speaker to play music from the device as well. You don’t often see this level of flexibility in this price range.

Setup: Keep Your Phone Handy

WiiM Pro cables
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

The setup process is simple, starting with scanning a QR code in the manual to easily download the WiiM Home app. The app then walks you through the process of pairing the WiiM Pro and then updating the firmware to the latest version.

After updating, the app uses the built-in microphone on your phone to measure the latency of the speakers you’re listening through. This won’t matter if you’re only setting the WiiM Pro up in a single room, but the latency is very important if you’re using multiple WiiM devices in a whole home audio environment.

After measuring the latency and having you either name the device or name the room it’s in, you have a few other options. You can optionally enable Chromecast Audio, which also enables Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa. Once you’re done here, setup is over, unless you’re setting up multiple devices, in which case you simply repeat the process.

The company sent two devices, the WiiM Pro and a WiiM Mini, so we could test multiroom functionality. It’s a testament to the ease of setup that I was able to enable multiroom playback without consulting the manual once.

WiiM Mini

Add AirPlay 2 support and more to your standard speakers for less than $100.

Your Phone is the Remote

WiiM Pro status LED
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

While there are plenty of ways to stream music via the WiiM Pro, the most powerful way is using the WiiM Home app. You simply add the music services you use, and then you can search all of them at once via the app and play all of your music from one place.

Most major streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Tidal are supported, but there are two notable exceptions: Apple Music and YouTube Music. For Apple Music, you’ll need to rely on AirPlay 2 if you want multiroom audio, while for YouTube Music, you’ll have to rely on Chromecast only.

Where the WiiM Home app shines is its universal search, which means you don’t have to worry about which service a given song is on. Just search, and the app will handle it for you, queueing up the song on whichever streaming service offers it.

You’ll spend most of your time with the app either in the Browse tab or the Search tab. You’ll only ever need to swap over to the device tab to change which speakers you’re playing music on or to adjust the volume from your phone.

On the Device screen, you can also make changes on a per-device basis. On the WiiM Pro, you can adjust the onboard EQ, which is handy if you’re playing through a pair of powered speakers or an amplifier without onboard EQ.

Linking together multiple units for multiroom audio is simple. Just tap the link icon in the top-right of a device, then select the other devices you want to play in sync. When you’re ready to take it to a single speaker, you use the same method, just uncheck the other devices.

Transparent Sound Everywhere

WiiM Pro logo
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek
  • Audio codecs: MP3, AAC, ALAC, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, OGG

The WiiM Pro features a 384kHz/32-bit DAC that is capable of delivering 192kHz/24-bit streams in lossless formats like FLAC, ALAC, APE, and WAV, as well as the typical lossy formats like MP3, OGG, and others. Unfortunately for audiophiles, it doesn’t feature DSD decoding.

Plugging it into an A/V receiver and later an integrated amplifier, I couldn’t find any noticeable differences between the WiiM Pro and the portable hi-res digital player I typically use. That said, hearing the difference in digital to analog conversion is rarely easy, and speakers weren’t making it easier.

To see how the WiiM Pro’s digital-to-analog converter (DAC) fared, I compared it to my Schiit Modi 3 standalone DAC. First, I plugged the output of the WiiM Pro into my Schiit Asgard headphone amp and listened to a song. Then I ran the coax digital output into the Modi 3 and into the Asgard, then listened again.

The results seemed to depend on the music. Listening to Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” I noticed a slight softness in the highs listening through the WiiM Pro directly that I didn’t notice using the Modi 3 DAC. The difference was subtle, to say the least, but it was there.

Throwing on “Doritos and Fritos” by 100 gecs was a different story. Here, the song is so frenetic and the production is so over the top that I didn’t notice a difference.

In the end, the difference between the WiiM Pro’s DAC and my bespoke DAC was, as is usually the case, almost impossible to notice. Still, it’s nice to know you can upgrade to an external DAC if you wish.

Should You Buy the WiiM Pro?

It’s rare to encounter this sort of product, but you simply won’t find a current alternative on the market that can do everything the WiiM Pro can do at the price it’s sold for. Sure, there are alternatives, but they’re dramatically more expensive, almost putting them into a different category.

If you’re an audiophile, yes, you’ll find areas to complain about. While the onboard DAC isn’t bad sounding by any means, it’s likely not up to snuff with what you would find in the WiiM Pro’s pricier competition. That said, you can always use the digital output to swap in your own DAC.

Even if you have one of the higher-end alternatives to this plucky little streamer, it’s easily worth considering as a backup, depending on your needs. If you’re planning on putting together a wireless whole-home audio system, this is one of the most affordable options you’ll find, especially if you add in the WiiM Mini as a companion.

Rating: 7/10
?

  • 1 – Does not work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 – Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 – Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 – Best-in-class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price: $149

Here’s What We Like

  • 24-bit/192kHz lossless audio
  • Receives and broadcasts Bluetooth audio
  • Supports AirPlay and Chromecast
  • Sounds great for the price
  • Super affordable compared to the competition

And What We Don’t

  • No support for Apple Music or YouTube Music in the WiiM Home app
  • Build feels somewhat flimsy
  • No included remote





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