I recently reviewed WiiM’s Mini streamer (here) and was blown away with what £89 buys you. To the extent that I chose it as one of HiFi Starters’ joint ‘Best of 2022’ products. Using its digital output, into an external DAC, the sound quality is excellent. Arguably all a HiFi Starter needs.
It’s not quite the perfect beginner’s solution though. The Mini is WiFi-only, there’s no option to connect an Ethernet cable. Not a problem for people like me who are blessed with good WiFi. A wired connection always wins on stability though.
The Mini is also limited to the one digital output – optical – which may be a constraint for some. And its analogue output is so-so on sound quality. More than passable for casual listening but the Mini’s internal DAC isn’t up there with its digital output. Oh, and whilst it does have Airplay 2 the WiiM Mini doesn’t do Chromecast
The WiiM Pro
All of that means the Mini is great for those with good WiFi who don’t need Chromecast and can make do with just a single optical output. If not then the WiiM Pro, big brother to the Mini, may be what you’re looking for. And at £149 / US$149 / €179 it’s not too much of a step up in cost.
Gone is the hockey-puck form of the Mini, the Pro needing a larger case to accommodate additional socketry. What we get instead is an Apple-TV lookalike, only slightly larger. In common with the WiiM Mini there’s an optical SPDIF output, USB-C for power, and an analogue input and output (on RCA phono connectors not 3.5mm sockets). There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 (transmit & receive), and DLNA for music stored on a local network. Plus Airplay 2.
The WiiM Pro adds an optical SPDIF input, useful for hooking up a TV maybe. There’s also a coax digital output, and the RJ45 Ethernet connection. The streaming platform is the same Linkplay solution found in the Mini (Linkplay is WiiM’s parent company) albeit with Chromecast enabled. Which means the Linkplay app looks and feels exactly the same as for the Mini. That’s good news, it’s very good.
The Pro’s internal DAC is the same as in the Mini. Unless WiiM has upgraded the circuitry around the DAC (power, output stages etc) then those hoping for a step up in analogue performance might be disappointed. Finally there are four capacitive touch buttons on the front of the Pro for Play/Pause, Volume+, Volume- and a preset.
And that’s it. Despite the WiiM Pro being bigger it feels as though the two devices are largely one and the same, just wearing different clothing. Does that play out in the listening?
When testing the Mini it was used in a cost-appropriate system (Marantz PM6006 amplifier and Monitor Audio Silver 100 7G speakers). With the WiiM Pro I went supersize, using my main system – Mytek Liberty II DAC, Prima Luna EVO 300H amplifier, Graham LS6 speakers and REL T/7x subwoofer. Over £10k. If anything was going to show up differences between the two WiiM’s that would.
First up, were there any differences between the Pro’s coax and optical outputs? After a fair amount of to ing and fro ing between the two the answer was simple; no. They sounded the same.
Onto the main show, pitching the WiiM Pro against the Mini. Both were plugged into the Mytek DAC, the Pro via coax and the Mini via optical (the Mytek only has one optical input). I then grouped them in the Linkplay app, meaning it was easy to switch between streamers to compare them.
At first I thought they sounded the same. The open, clear sound of the Pro was very familiar. And, much as I’d love to spin the story out further, after a lot of listening those initial impressions didn’t change. I could hear no differences between the Mini and the Pro.
Which is no bad thing, it means the Pro is really good sounding streamer. One that held it’s own in the costly review system. That wasn’t embarrassed by comparison to a £650 Pro-ject Stream Box S2 Ultra streamer, even if the Pro-ject did sound better (giving lie to the view that all streamers sound the same.)
I could pad the word count here by repeating whole swathes of the WiiM Mini review. Instead I’ll point you to the original article itself (here) for more insight – just read ‘Pro’ for ‘Mini’ on the sound quality bits. The bottom line? The WiiM Pro sounds great.
Upgraded power supply
Particularly when using a good power supply. Most people will naturally turn to the standard 5V power supply supplied with the WiiM Pro. Swapping it out for something better – in my case an Allo Shanti – paid dividends though. Music was a little clearer, and better organised.
When India Arie’s “What If” (from Worthy) stepped up the beat, the standard power supply struggled to keep the different elements separate. The sound became slightly shouty, a sheen covering the music. The Shanti sorted things out, sounding more in-control, the sheen banished.
Eric Whitacre’s “All Seems Beautiful To Me”, sung by Voces8 (from the forthcoming Home) is simpler music, just the eight a cappella voices recorded in an expansive acoustic. With the Shanti in circuit that acoustic became more palpable, the voices more clearly delineated, each contribution easier to hear. The sound was more finessed.
At US$160 the Shanti isn’t cheap. I used it for its two 5V outputs – no need to switch things between the Pro and Mini, one less variable to consider. You might want to try the iFi iPower that I used for the WiiM Mini review. At £50 it’s more price appropriate but still brings better sound quality than the standard power supply. There are, of course, alternatives. Just note the need for 1.5A of current (the Mini only needs 1A).
And finally to the WiiM Pro’s analogue output; does it fare any better than the Mini’s? You guessed it – no, they sounded virtually identical. If there were any differences I’d put them down to the different cables in use (I had similar but not identical ones to hand). So as with the Mini, the Pro’s analogue output is passable; fine for background or casual listening but not really any more.
A conclusion that wasn’t inevitable, but it appears WiiM hasn’t enhanced the circuitry around the DAC chip. As with the Mini, the focus seems to be on using the Pro in digital mode. The analogue capability is a (useful) convenience factor. That’s a design choice I for one am comfortable with.
So there you have it, short and sweet. The Pro’s £60 uplift over the Mini buys a wired connection, which could be very useful for some. Android users will appreciate Chromecast. And the coaxial output could come in handy too. Overall the extra functionality makes the Pro a slightly more rounded streamer.
Sonically they’re identical, meaning you get fine sound. Good enough for most systems up to £2,000, particularly if you dig a little deeper and get a better power supply. Kudos to WiiM for minimising the cost increase. As with the Mini, the Pro needs an external DAC to give of its best but at £150 it’s still a supremely cost-effective streamer.