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Update - WIIM mini HD Streamer - a success story
DuckToller posted a blog entry in DuckToller's Sonic EncountersUpdate - WIIM Mini Streamer: The WIIM Mini Streamer is a cheap - puck sized - device for streaming Hi-Res Audio up to 192kHz/24bit from your home network or mobile phone to your DAC or preamp. It is a budget wise investment for multiroom scenarios - think BlueSound Node or Sonos. Plus, it is easier to setup than any RPI3/4 solution. The device was bought chez Amazon France for 99 Euros in April 2022. For the record: I have had two trips to Germany, a quite miserable Covid infection when vacating at the French Atlantic coast for most of July, multiple heat waves with a mere 33 days now officially tagged heatwave and with more than 90°F, more than ten days with more than 104°F and a peak close to 109°F in France. I also installed/measured/corrected my new active speaker system since I have written here the last time. Ah yes, school started in France as well, last week. In short, a long, sometimes miserable, sometimes enchanting, and certainly a very hot period for me. Concurrently the WIIM was working more or less flawlessly in my use cases, had an indefinite number of updates, perfected the customer experience of many users and the product thread at the “ather” (ASR) forum went from 20 pages to over 220 during the time of writing. While I was following announcements and developments curiously - I kind of lost the moment of entering back into the blog - waiting on the bit-perfect and lossless playback of Deezer premium and Amazon HD to arrive, the two services I subscribed to particularly for this review. Finally, last week, I cancelled the Deezer inscription and Amazon will soon follow. I am just happy with what Qobuz provides very decently to me on CD lossless and Hi-Res level and I actually won’t use all the millions of files the two services will offer as a plus of choice I'll try blast this post with some galleries – I have had some pics taken in the spring and I did a couple of screenshots on Android and IOS during the proceedings … Sorrry for the layout, there is a discussion with the admin on order ;-)About the WIIM mini The concept of the WIIM Mini smart streamer seems to be quite simple but efficient, it uses a Linkplay Chipset (A97) combined with, and driven by an Allwinner embedded application running a tinalinux, which is “a software development kit based on the openwrt-14.07 version”. This way, I may assume, the processor intensive operations stay with the controller, usually your phone or your tablet and the WIIM mini manages the tasks of ADC, DAC and DDC processing from wireless protocols like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or the aux input port. The device can be used as a streamer, a renderer or combining both functions. Receiving the streaming service signal and managing your playlists is taken care of by the WIIM app on your phone/tablet, which is continuously updated and enjoyed a run of remarkable feature add-ons through the last 6 months. As did the device itself in the public eye, from my first post here in April until mid-September the WIIM thread at the asr forum ten folded into over 220 pages. To be honest, I think (and enjoy) that this thread is the most important vehicle to drive device improvements for the WIIM and therefore deserve kudos, thus the WIIM team often participates with the crew. The collaboration seems to be a success and imho is smart from every angle. The app development is focusing on delivering value to the users from a whole bunch of different streaming service customers: Qobuz, Deezer, Amazon, Spotify, Tidal, Napster, you name it. Used on a trillion of different devices and brands, mobile phones, tablets, computers with a specific mix of open standards and closed gardens (proprietary software/standards), the main constant seem to be the WiFi/Toslink conversion, everything else is more on less depended on third party interfaces and on the demand of the subsequent customer base. From a developer POV this seems to be at least a minor dilemma, just to show honest understatement. From a customer POV it looks like a success story. They DO IT!And they keep some special moments coming (Just look into the Roadmap). To visualize what happened since April, I have created a little slideshow with the screenshots I did over time when I was notified about the incoming updates … (not 100% complete due to my Covid timeout) As another result of the WIIM’s rising success, even the old guards of Stereophile couldn’t hide to review the unit, which may leave us with a more serious reception than Amir’s review, who declined to recommend the device for lacking ROON/RAAT implementation. Here is what they (WIIM / LINKPLAY) have achieved by the time of publishing - The device now supports the main device independent player in the mainstream audio market for lossless and HD stereo audio content from: Amazon HD & UHD, Qobuz, Deezer, Spotify Connect , Tidal Connect / Tidal Master (no MQA). - As well there are a couple of other services like Open Network Stream, TuneIn, IHeart, vTuner, Soundmachine, Napster, CalmRadio are available, while Pandora and Soundcloud are on the wishlist/roadmap. - Max bitrate for bit perfect and gapless playback is 192kHz/24bit PCM (not for all services) - While the lack of support for Apple Music is a bit sad but quite understandable, the device does support Airplay2 - Supports DLNA/UPNP and Amazon casting - A two-way Bluetooth communication, which means you can forward you music from a pc without BT to your BT headphones / speaker through your network (Ethernet/WiFi) - a 10-band graphic EQ with 22 presets for IOS and Android) - Display of sample rate and bit depth on Home App and Spotify Connect - Multiroom functionality available for Spotify/Tidal Connect - however multiroom playback is based on MP3 not lossless (doesn’t matter for Spotify users anyway) - should play well with Alexa – not tested as I haven’t got such smart devices - Amazon Alexa as a service for music More info about future upgrades you may find here or in the attachment called “roadmap”. What WIIM engineering has achieved since its introduction is documented here or in the attachment “achievements”. The actual specs you may find here or in the attachment “SPECS” Roadmap - WiiM Mini.pdfAchievments - WiiM Mini.pdfSPECS - WiiM Mini.pdfI have used the WIIM constantly for two channel active speakers with a couple of DACs (internal to speakers and external like the Soncoz on the pictures) which support Spdif/Toslink, as well as the main content provider for my humble headphone combination (iFi iDSD micro BL/HiFiMan HE400i). One of the greatest smiles in my face came in one week when my wife were on a business trip and I installed multi room service in our house. Bathroom, living room, office and the deck were playing in sync, controlled through the WIIM app. A house full of music, an enchanting experience. Personally, I think the unit is one of the smartest accessories I have seen in the last year, especially at that price point. I like as well the smart philosophy of the company behind the WIIM. The 2021 A97 chipset is a major leap from the A31 module, which we may have seen in devices like the Arylic S50+ (review incoming), Songbird, Auris Audifi, AudioEngine, the first Octavio and others. I may assume that the Linkplay engineering team will produce the ROI of their laudable activities in the future when the company may not only offer WIIM devices to consumers, but their (priceless) advancements/experiences through OEM modules, software and applications to the B2B market. This is very good for us as consumers as we are not forced to pay for every upgrade and may get the kind of enhanced proposition from a manufacturer we have preferences for, however would not like to get into headaches about streaming protocols and APIs from different market players. We have seen in the past that DLNA/UPnP implementation even at devices like the ELAC Alchemy DDP2 may be PITA for the manufactures. Hey Elac/Sonavox, Linkplay can fix that … ;-) Verdict: I think that kind of pocket server (as of CAPS) is really for the pockets on the way to our holiday destinations or a smart enhancement for the 2nd/3rd system. Starters of the audiophile hobby and newbies to the digital side are perfect clients for this smart device. Testing the streaming environment and functionality without breaking the bank. This is an important point, I think remarkable competitors like BlueSound Node or iFi cost some multiples of that device, and when we are up for multiroom we may love to limit the budget per unit … If you would like to express it more negatively: The WIIM is a cheap audiophile device with a limited bandwidth (192/24) that does not support Apple Music and ROON. MQA is also not supported until now. And won’t be for multiroom, I’d reckon. Everything else they’ve announced is executed with bravura - for just around 100 bucks. *If you are looking for a device with RAAT or a big display, you might be welcomed to have read until this line, but the WIIM may not be perfect for you. *If you’re thinking about a BlueSound Node, think twice. *If you are in for some cheap multiroom service provider, you’re probably just right. ;-)Over the summer of 22 I have tested three Linkplay module based devices: The Arylic HD DAC, The Arylic S50+ Pro streamer, pre-amp & DAC and the WIIM. From these I would always opt for the WIIM connected via toslink to a capable DAC or DÀC/HPA, preferable with balanced outputs, as the best solution for my personal taste. The review of the Arylic devices will be published starting next week.