Tue. May 21st, 2024

Instead of upgrading your entire media system, get an add-on network player. The new WiiM Ultra boasts high-end audio decoding and adds multi-room audio, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and other wireless media capabilities to any old amplifier.

The WiiM Ultra uses an excellent 32-bit / 384kHz ES9038 Q2M Sabre DAC and provides hi-res music playback at 24-bit/192kHz quality. It features modern Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 wireless connectivity and can connect to other WiiM players (or other DLNA devices) for multi-room audio streaming. Naturally, like all WiiM products, the new Ultra unit supports a bevy of streaming platforms—Spotify Connect, TIDAL Connect, AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Alexa built-in, DLNA, Roon, and Squeezelite.

More notably, the WiiM Ultra has a 3.5-inch touchscreen display. This gives the unit a slightly more attractive appearance (fewer buttons and on-screen album artwork is a winning combination) when compared to previous WiiM devices. However, the small display is far from a necessity, as the whole point in a networking audio player is to cast music from a phone, laptop, voice assistant, or some other secondary device.

Rear I/O of the WiiM Ultra.

The backside of the WiiM Ultra has an excellent array of connectivity options, including HDMI ARC (for TVs and AVRs), analog RCA, digital optical, a headphone jack, a subwoofer output, a supplemental coaxial output, a phono jack (great for playing whole-home audio from a record player), and a USB port for local files. You can connect the WiiM Ultra to your router via LAN if the built-in Wi-Fi 6E system isn’t reliable enough, and the unit can run a room correction algorithm based on input from your smartphone’s mic.

Along with the WiiM Ultra, there’s also a new WiiM Amp Pro. It’s functionally identical to the original WiiM Amp, though it adds the ability to connect to a TV over HDMI ARC and features upgraded Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity. The Amp Pro also boasts a 120dB noise floor, up from 98dB in the original amp, and uses the same 32-BIT Q2M Sabre DAC as the new WiiM Ultra.

To avoid any confusion, I should clarify that the WiiM Ultra is meant to connect to an existing amplifier (or a speaker with built-in amplification, such as a soundbar). WiiM Amp Pro provides the functionality of a standard WiiM player, but it connects directly to passive speakers (and an optional subwoofer) like a traditional amplifier.

The WiiM Ultra costs $330, while the WiiM Amp Pro is $370. Both will go on sale in the U.S. by September, at the latest. Note that there are cheaper WiiM products that offer streaming functionality similar to these new units.

Source: WiiM

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By John P.

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