My WiiM Amp experience

Brantome

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Guess it's a little bit overdue due to personal circumstances and real life getting in the way, but here's my experience with the WiiM Amp over the 2 to 3 weeks I’ve had it. I appreciate it isn’t a review as such (those more experienced in these matters already have had their say) but hopefully it’ll still be of interest to those thinking of buying the Amp.

Unboxing

As I posted on first receiving it, the WiiM Amp comes across as a substantial and somewhat classy looking item from the packaging (37x26x8cm) thru to the unit itself. As Darko said in his first look blog, "If you’ve unboxed a Macbook or Macbook Pro, you’ve already unboxed the WiiM Amp. The WiiM’s box dimensions, material structure, graphic design and slow-release lid are all extremely similar to Apple’s”.

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As well as the unit itself, you get a remote (the same as used for the other WiiM devices) and the expected power, RCA and HDMI cables which again appear to be of a better quality than previously.

Some of the initial challenges I faced in trying out the Amp were nothing to do with the Amp itself – despite having used hi fi gear for half a century or more, I only really have a single main music system, my oft mentioned Linn MDSM/4 and 4 ohm M109 speakers (see https://www.stereophile.com/content/linn-majik-109-loudspeaker-specifications).

I do have a second small Denon Piccolo system in my summerhouse, so I intended to use its SC-N4 6 ohm speakers (see https://www.hyperfi.co.uk/speakers/denon-sc-n4-ceol-piccolo-bookshelf-speakers-scn4-white) to connect to the Amp.

However, despite having three large boxes of interconnect cables collected over the years (which hi fi user doesn’t have such boxes?), I unbelievably didn’t have any speaker cable or banana plugs, so had to order those and wait a few days for them to arrive.

I found these banana/BFA plugs (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0B6398YX1) were a good fit for the WiiM Amp (thanks again @onlyoneme), and ordered a few metres of KabelDirekt 2x2.5mm² Pure Copper Stereo Audio Speaker Wire & Cable (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B098NS8FD3).


Setup & Use

Once I had all the pieces in place, the WiiM Amp was the same as the Mini/Pro/Pro Plus in being very easy to setup from the WiiM Home app: it connected to Wi-Fi straight away then checked for latest firmware version.

There’s no real difference in WiiM Home app for the Amp other than a subwoofer entry under Audio Settings, apart from the omission of an Audio Outputs section that I’ve reported to WiiM. Without that, there doesn’t appear to be a way to select Bluetooth output nor Airplay casting that are mentioned in the WiiM Amp user guide. That also means you can’t choose whatever digital filters the Amp’s DAC may have. I’m sure this is a temporary bug in the app/firmware that will be resolved in short order.

That apart, all the features we have in the Pro and Pro Plus are there for the Amp, so it’s a piece of cake to get it up and running. The Squeezelite client is also available straight out of the box.

Using a TAPO P110 monitoring smart plug, the Amp appears to draw around 15w when playing at half volume which is loud enough for normal listening (and maybe a little overloud at 65-70db (spl) according to my phone sound meter app) in my surroundings and with the speakers I’m using. That drops to 6w in standby/off. The Amp unfortunately doesn’t have a physical on/off switch which I’d prefer on a mains unit given where I need to plug it in.

Like all things, how the Amp sounds is very dependent on the speakers you use with it, your room acoustics, preferences and hearing and so on. I've been using the Amp off and on in a relatively small room with the aforementioned Denon speakers as well as in a slightly larger room with my much better Linn M109 speakers. I find it eminently listenable in both setups, but of course more so with the better speakers. My sonic vocabulary doesn't extend much beyond that but I can say it does have a slightly glassier, more brittle sound at higher volumes compared to my usual amp which cost ten times as much, so there’s maybe no surprise there.


USB connected media

I first tried a SanDisk Cruzer Fit 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive with a dozen or so albums copied across to it and it immediately appeared as a Media Server called WiiM Amp-F80C:Media Server under the Home Music Share option in the WiiM Home app.

Things didn’t go so well with my 4TB external Seagate HDD – the Amp doesn’t supply enough amperage so the disc just was just clicking off and on. I had to use a Y connector cable connected to a USB power outlet to get drive operational. It took a long time to discover all music tracks on the drive as it was a backup of my entire music, photos and documents – it was probably a bad first choice to try.

I then purchased a "SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD, USB-C USB 3.2 Gen 2, External NVMe Solid State Drive" and copied some files across, but the Amp failed to recognise it. So I reformatted it from exFat to NTFS and tried again to no avail (the Amp supports either filesystem – not sure which others though). Turns out that it needs around 1.2A to drive it, but as the Amp USB slot is only rated for 0.63A as measured by @onlyoneme, I had to order another USB Y cable to power it externally. When that arrived a few days later, I was able to copy just my music files to it - around 20k tracks, mixed FLAC and MP3.

It still took the Amp a little while to index all the entries: I had intended to time it but was diverted and I'd guess it took at least half an hour even with that fast SSD. I don't know if the WiiM Amp processes all this or whether the WiiM app on an arguably more powerful phone is in anyway involved. I suspect it’s just the Amp itself.

Also, the indexing generated multiple entries after power down/up during initial tests but that perhaps has been already been resolved by newer firmware.

The resulting music library appears under Home Music Share like any other UPNP/DLNA server - indeed it looks like off the shelf UPNP server code with menu entries for Browse Folders, Music, Pictures and Video, with Music leading to Album, All Music, Artist, Folders, Genre, Playlists and Recently Added, the last of which doesn’t appear to show anything.

Screenshot_20231130-124609_Original.jpg Screenshot_20231130-130428_Original.jpg Screenshot_20231130-130454_Original.jpg

The Amp creates a wiim_cache folder on the drive containing a files.db file which I guess is the index, plus an art_cache folder which replicates your music folder(s) hierarchy with a jpeg entry for every track in those folders, which leads to a high degree of duplication. In my case for roughly 20k tracks, those files and database take up 1.2GB on my USB drive.

There are no configuration options for this UPNP server - it's a fairly simple structure but probably sufficient for most casual users.

After indexing, the UPNP server is responsive and performs well in use.

I'd say the use of the USB port to access music files is probably mainly for casual or adhoc use, or for those with a relatively small library, as I'd guess those with a larger library would already have it set up on a NAS with the server software of their choice such as MinimServer, AssetUPNP or alternatives like LMS, Plex etc.


Subwoofer

I don’t normally use a subwoofer as I'm not a fan of subs for stereo music listening so had to press my Echo Studio into use and the results weren't good as might be expected with a proper subwoofer - but that's nothing to do with the WiiM Amp. For the use of a subwoofer, you’d be better consulting other users.

However, trying that gave me the chance at least to view the Subwoofer option in the amp and try the sliders. See the attached screenshot

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The crossover frequency also acts as a high pass filter with the low frequencies going to the subwoofer, and only the higher frequencies going to the speakers as already been answered both in Darko’s article and here in the forum by @onlyoneme.


HDMI arc in

I fed the output from my Samsung Frame TV from its HDMI eARC socket into the WiiM amp HDMI ARC (not eARC) connection and was able to use the Amp for audio output which it did well, but only after I had to make some changes to my TV’s audio output which is normally set for Dolby Digital as I normally use its eARC socket for my Fire TV Stick 4K Max/ Echo Studio in home theatre mode. After changing the TV sound to PCM, the Amp sprung into life. As per the Amp manual “The HDMI ARC and optical input port on the WiiM Amp are tailored for stereo PCM audio. It does not support other TV audio formats like Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos, or DTS”, so if your Amp doesn’t play any TV sound when connected over ARC, check your TV’s sound settings.

When turned on, the TV did eventually appear to switch the Amp’s input to HDMI. I wouldn’t say it was instantaneous, maybe even as long as 20-30 seconds. As someone used to using the app to switch sources, that didn’t bother me. On turning off the TV, the Amp didn’t switch back its previous Wi-Fi input, which again I didn’t see as an issue.

The TV remote could be used to control the Amp volume, which I accidentally discovered when using the WiiM app to change to Wi-Fi rather than HDMI without first turning off the TV. I would say there should be a separate volume control for each input on the amp as the sound blared out when I switched to Wi-Fi after listening to the TV.


Verdict:

Overall, I think WiiM have another winner on its hands with the WiiM Amp. It certainly generates a great first impression due to the quality of the packaging and the design, look and feel of the product itself. It is very easy to set up, has same large range of features and supported services as its successful sibling products, and sounds very good when matched with even modestly price speakers. I can see it being a great starter or second system for a lot of people, and at its £299 price it's an absolute bargain.


Footnote:

I noted with interest in Darko’s article that he mentioned the “static” apparently killing the amp. I experienced similar and wondered whether I’d fried my test unit when I was swapping speakers (I had already used the remote’s power off button to turn it off). It took a fair bit of rebooting and sweat till I finally got it back up and running, eventually having to connect it over Ethernet as Wi-Fi wasn’t cutting it during re-setup. Hopefully WiiM can address this issue.
 
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Please correct the part about the current which the usb port can provide - it's about Amperes, not Watts.
 
Due to this "static issue" what I faced also we decided to stop my "testing". In the meantime I think it was a pre-production item. But that is only an unproved suspicion.
The problem was immediately gone when I used a star shaped grounding (no idea if this is the correct idiom) we have to have for our lightning protection insurance. But I guess not everyone has such. So I am out and cross fingers that this WiiM is as brilliant as the other WiiMs are.
 
Due to this "static issue" what I faced also we decided to stop my "testing". In the meantime I think it was a pre-production item. But that is only an unproved suspicion.
The problem was immediately gone when I used a star shaped grounding (no idea if this is the correct idiom) we have to have for our lightning protection insurance. But I guess not everyone has such. So I am out and cross fingers that this WiiM is as brilliant as the other WiiMs are.
Unfortunately there is no dedicated grounding point.
 
No idea, I hate this C7/C8 flat power connections for our Schuko system. But I am everything but engineer or electric specialist. Fact is this prickling in the fingertips stopped and my multimeter showed zero.
 
- We have an installation done by the electricians mainly to give the insurance company what they ask for lightning protection in our heavy weather region at the shore.
- In my listening room I have two Supra Cable power sockets which are with are connected exclusive to distribution board. This star shaped grounding takes place there.
- I tried the WiiM Amp without any connection beside power in a room and with a "normal" power socket. This was the scenario I experienced this prickling. Multimeter between grounding in our Schuko socket and a cinch socket from the WiiM showed a small deflection.
- Changed to the Supra sockets in both positions the multimeter shows no deflection.
 
I noted with interest in Darko’s article that he mentioned the “static” apparently killing the amp. I experienced similar and wondered whether I’d fried my test unit when I was swapping speakers (I had already used the remote’s power off button to turn it off).
I'm curious if having constant 20V DC bias between speaker outs and the Amp's local ground when the Amp is not earth grounded, might be related to this. Or that HF component on the sub out which presence is somehow related to the power supply.
 
- We have an installation done by the electricians mainly to give the insurance company what they ask for lightning protection in our heavy weather region at the shore.
- In my listening room I have two Supra Cable power sockets which are with are connected exclusive to distribution board. This star shaped grounding takes place there.
- I tried the WiiM Amp without any connection beside power in a room and with a "normal" power socket. This was the scenario I experienced this prickling. Multimeter between grounding in our Schuko socket and a cinch socket from the WiiM showed a small deflection.
- Changed to the Supra sockets in both positions the multimeter shows no deflection.
So you use an Amp's stock cable which lacks a ground connection but you've connected it to some kind of special socket?
 
So you use an Amp's stock cable which lacks a ground connection but you've connected it to some kind of special socket?
Yes, no other chance. There was this recumbent eight into the Amp and a flat "Eurostecker" on the other side.
My knowledge about such things is rudimentary only. That is the reason I gave my test item back to be away from the front, let others decide if action is needed. And I got the item NOT from WiiM.
But as I wrote above using this "grounded connection" solved the prickling immediately. It is of course possible that the "normal" Brennenstuhl socket caused it.
But, to bring that to an end in my world NO, absolutely NO item with an internal 230 V is allowed to show such behavior. Under NO circumstances. And it did, I trust my fingertips 😉
 
I'm curious if having constant 20V DC bias between speaker outs and the Amp's local ground when the Amp is not earth grounded, might be related to this. Or that HF component on the sub out which presence is somehow related to the power supply.
I don't know - as I say it happened when I was swapping speakers and though I'm very careful when doing that, I had thought I had perhaps inadvertently shorted it. Like @Achim1811 I'm not a great fan of the flat figure of 8 power connectors and prefer the good old fashioned UK 3 pin earthed plugs...
 
A chassis does not seem to be grounded locally. Anyway, it's a case for electricians rather.
 
Thanks for the quick review. I am interested to know how this stacks up to other similarly priced Amps. I think the price is real nice for what it can bring to bear. I understand this comes across as an "all in one" solution. So should other folks with older separates migrate to this amp?
 
Thanks for the quick review. I am interested to know how this stacks up to other similarly priced Amps. I think the price is real nice for what it can bring to bear. I understand this comes across as an "all in one" solution. So should other folks with older separates migrate to this amp?
It’s been a while since I had older separates in this price range, nor do I have experience of recent similarly priced amps, but I’d guess the value proposition WiiM is putting forward for this is similar to that used for the Pro Plus over the Pro i.e. in that case, why pay for an additional separate DAC and related interconnects and power sockets, or a separate amp etc in the case of the Pro Plus v the Amp, when you can get all the features and performance in a single integrated unit at what will no doubt be a lower overall cost.

You should check out the YouTube reviews as well - at least they have a lot of experience with current kit and are in a better place to do comparisons.
 
Good review @Brantome - I just received mine today and had a few hours to play around this evening - mostly I had a similar experience - getting a valid USB device is effectively the only problem I have had so far.

I tried the HDMI ARC with a few of my TV's (the Samsung's worked well though did have a 10-20 second delay before the audio started to play), and the TCL which has a terrible implementation of ARC actually mostly worked well - but when I plugged in one of the USB it went silent and didn't recover even after a reboot - I had to disconnect the HDMI cable and reconnect after a reboot to get it back to normal. But I know this TCL has the worst implementation of HDMI ARC so I am pleased that it worked.

I also agree there needs to be per Audio Input gain settings that are remembered as the streaming audio input was 10db or more louder than the HDMI ARC input.

Overall though this is a great device, loved the Apple like unboxing (it is basically a MacMini like device), the accessories are good i.e. various cables supplied and the setup was very smooth. It sounds very clean (obviously similar to other TPA3255 Amp's like the Fosi Audio V3 - though it should be properly measured soon and it definitely doesn't go as loud as the Fosi but was plenty loud with my Q Acoustics speakers ). I will try one of my subwoofers with it over the weekend and check the crossover settings in the subwoofer section of the app and I will be trying some basic 'room correction' using the still 4-band PEQ filters.

I will write up a much more detailed review in the coming week, but so far it's excellent.
 
Thanks for sharing your experience here @Brantome!
I have posted this in the general Wiim Amp thread, but now realize that that might not be the right place.
Hope it is ok to post here. - From reading this thread I do gather that the Wiim Amp's receiver capabilities are pretty good.

Things really do move fast in the world of Wiim. I just recently purchased the Wiim Pro Plus, when my Chromecast Audio (connected to my Denon DRA-F107DAB receiver via a Fiio D3 DAC) gave in. Needless to say the sound quality upgrade has been significant. Now that the Wiim Amp is out, I am wondering if I should upgrade from the Wiim Pro Plus to the Wiim Amp. But how good is the Wiim Amp as an amplifier/receiver compared to my old DRA-F107, which I know is very basic? My guess would be that I would benefit from this much newer and better amp in the Wiim Amp. Any thoughts on this? Have not been able to find any reviews where a basic old midi amp like mine is compared to the Wiim Amp.
 
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I personally find it difficult to answer these types of questions as I don't have experience of the kit mentioned and may well have different preferences to you. However, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that the WiiM Amp could at least match if not better than a midi system first produced over fifteen years ago, although Denon did/do have a solid reputation at that market point.

What the Amp obviously offers is a one box solution, although it does lack the range of input/outputs that the Pro Plus has. And you'll be aware from the Pro Plus what WiiM devices offer in terms of access to streaming services, local files, internet radio etc - I guess the only addition is the inclusion of the HDMI ARC on the Amp for connection to a compatible TV that none of the previous devices had.

Ideally, you should try and demo the Amp at some retailer, or purchase from a retailer who will allow you to return it within a reasonable period in the unlikely event you don't like it. And if you do keep it, I guess you could recoup some of the cost by selling on the Pro Plus and Denon.
 
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