WiiM’s cheap wireless hi-res audio streaming turns any speaker into a Sonos
wireless speaker Products from Sonos, Apple, and other brands make it incredibly easy to stream music using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other protocols. But if your existing hi-fi system uses wired speakers, achieving the magic of wireless music can be an expensive upgrade, with many dedicated streaming components costing upwards of $1,000.
Vinyl records and compact discs are still viable media formats, but The best music streaming services Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, and Qobuz rival them in quality, offering high-res audio as well as lossless CD-quality offerings. Any music lover will understandably want to add the feature to their system, and with the new WiiM Pro music streamer, they can now get it for a very affordable $149 (around £122 / AU$225) the price to do it.
How low is this price?To put it in perspective, it’s a lot less than you’d pay for an upgrade option like the Bluesound Node ($600) or its sister company’s less expensive sibling, the Bluesound Node NAD CS1 Endpoint Network Streaming ($349).
WiiM Pro supports up to 24-bit/192kHz audio and can handle nearly every high-resolution soundtrack available on streaming services. You can use it to stream over Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet network connections, and it can also handle AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Alexa Casting, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect. Optical and coaxial digital outputs are available, as well as analogue stereo as well as optical and coaxial digital inputs, in addition to an analogue stereo output for connection to the input of a receiver or integrated amplifier.
That last feature is worth commenting on, because it means you can connect other sources, like a CD player or turntable, to the WiiM Pro to stream to other systems or speakers in a multiroom setup. The WiiM Pro app guides you through grouping multiple WiiM Pros for whole-house playback, and you can also use it to wirelessly group Nest, Echo, and Apple HomePod speakers for streaming. It works with Alexa, Hey Google, and Siri, so you can choose voice commands and control assistants.
Music services that can be configured in the WiiM Pro application include Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora, Deezer, TuneIn radio, and more.
Analysis: WiiM Pro Brings Hi-Res Audio Streaming to the Masses
At $149, the WiiM Pro is the cheapest option I know of for adding wireless hi-res audio streaming to an existing stereo system.I’ve been on the lookout for a streaming player like this, both for myself and to recommend to friends who hope to eventually eliminate the need to connect their laptops to their stereos to stream – which is often the case when music services first launch do, but are now an ancient practice
The previous barrier to upgrading for many was cost. At $349, the NAD CS1 is an affordable option, but it omits the HDMI eARC port, analog stereo input, and most importantly, the app-based multiroom control that the more expensive Bluesound Node offers. That last feature, which you’ll find throughout the Sonos speaker lineup, makes grouping various speakers for whole-home music playback, and playing different music sources in different zones, a breeze.
What’s interesting about the new WiiM Pro is that it offers app-based multi-room playback in its $149 streaming package, and it also supports the three major voice assistants to control playback, music selection, and volume levels, among other things. (The company says it will soon launch a remote accessory that offers more traditional hardware control options.)
For a cost of $149, is there anything the WiiM Pro can’t give you? There’s no built-in Apple Music support in the Control app, which means Apple Music subscribers will have to use AirPlay 2 to wirelessly cast tracks from the service to the WiiM Pro.The downside is that you won’t be able to listen to music in hi-res formats (AirPlay 2 doesn’t support hi-res audio) and Apple Music Spatial Audio isn’t supported either – which is a feature Sonos announces its new Era 300 Speakersand its current arc and Beam (Gen 2) sound bar.
Even with that limitation, the WiiM Pro looks like a solid deal, and a great way for listeners to enter the world of hi-res audio streaming on the cheap. This is something we hope to get in the near future, so keep an eye out for the comments.