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Review: Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 Headphone amplifier with DAC and streamer

Review: If you want to build your first high quality HiFi system or simplify an existing one, Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 amplifier will meet your expectations.

Waversa products are aimed at audiophiles wishing to build a space-saving quality system. The aesthetics of the products also matter. With its clean and sharp lines without any visible screws, that of the Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 network drive does not leave you indifferent. This small device is also much more than a network drive as we will see. It is the complete control center of a system that lacks only an amplifier and speakers.

The Waversa range is digitally oriented with many DACs (digital-to-analog converter) , streamers and other servers. The brand also covers all the needs of high-fidelity enthusiasts with phono pre-amplifiers or tube amplifiers. Waversa Korean manufacturers very sophisticated using different technologies and design tips aimed at improving the sound of course. Some models operate on battery, for example, to get rid of any noise pollution that may come from electrical outlets. It should also be noted the presentation and consistent finish on all ranges. The sound signature is based on aluminum boxes and multipixel white dot displays offering them an aesthetic perfectly in tune with the times.

The Waversa WminiHPA MK2 …

  • offers high functionality in a small space. After all, it combines streamer, DAC, pre- and headphone amp in one small box.
  • plays in its basic character balanced and controlled, shows minimal tendencies to “wiriness”, but never gets biting.
  • transports bass and sub-bass to the headphones with considerable dryness, so that even otherwise somewhat indifferent transducers tend to gain contour in the bass. Quite neutral in terms of level, if in doubt a bit slimmer.
  • is very linear in the middle and does not decrease the level in the presences either.
  • reproduces the highs in an extremely airy manner without creating this high-level effect. In the uppermost part of the spectrum, it sometimes appears minimally crystalline through some headphones.
  • does amazing things in terms of the dissolution of the material. All details are presented in an exemplary manner through the entire listening spectrum.
  • provides a very clear and tangible spatiality of the reproduced material.
  • belongs to the “fast” DACs and headphone amplifiers and has no problems with very steep climbs in the program material. The Waversa shines with its absolutely outstanding fine dynamics.
  • serves every headphone optimally, from simple and inexpensive mobile headphones to high-performance converters. It also offers sound-influencing options that some listeners will enthusiastically use – and those who ignore them can still be very happy with their purchase.

Facts:

  • Model: Waversa WminiHPA MK2
  • Category: Headphone amplifier with DAC and streaming options
  • Price: 1,950 euros
  • Inputs: Ethernet, USB (computer and storage), S / PDIF coaxial, Toslink
  • Outputs: 2 x line-out (XLR, RCA); 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm and 6.3 mm stereo jack
  • Dimensions & weight: 180 x 150 x 37 mm (WxDxH); 1.4 kg
  • Other: Server functionality, FPGA audio functions with its own “WAP” processor

Five great functions in a very compact device

The Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 saves space on the HiFi cabinet. First of all in terms of physical dimensions with 15 cm wide and only 18 cm deep. But also thanks to the various integrated functions.

This device is a true digital and audiophile Swiss Army knife with the following features:

  • DAC with three digital inputs: coaxial, optical and USB B
  • Headphone amplifier with four 2.5, 3.5, 6.35 mm and XLR-4 jack outputs (adapter required, not supplied)
  • USB reader / server (USB-A port)
  • Ethernet streamer compatible Roon, UPnP / DLNA and WNDR
  • Dual unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR pre-amplifier

This Waversa device therefore has five functions that simplify your HiFi system. He can do almost everything in a super compact format. Connectivity is simplified and sufficient for a normal installation. You can add other Waversa elements from the Mini range such as an integrated amplifier, a separate server and a HiFi quality network switch.

The front panel features a single dual-function button, to power on the device and to select the source. Next to it are the three headphone outputs, the infrared receiver and the display. The latter is one of the most original that we know of.

It consists of multiple small, well-spaced white LEDs. It displays the name of the current source via a single letter. The volume level is indicated by the horizontal line of LEDs at the very bottom. As soon as you modify the volume, its level is displayed in clear, from 0 to 63 at most. The most demanding will know that the absence of a screen display also makes it possible to overcome the electronic disturbances of the latter.

Simplified functions controlled by an Apple remote control

The front panel is devoid of volume controls, so you have to use either the remote control or your smartphone or tablet. The supplied remote control is an Apple model. It is that of the old Apple TV boxes. A small aluminum remote control perfectly in keeping with the style of the WMiniHPA MK2 . You will need to memorize the commands relating to each key: up and down for volume, right to change source, left to turn the device on / off. Waversa also offers its own optional remote control with a few more buttons.

In addition, the WMiniHPA MK2 has a web page accessible via a browser such as Chrome from smartphone, tablet or computer. This interface takes over the functions of the remote control: powering on, volume control, choice of source and especially access to settings. The philosophy is identical to the other well-known Korean HiFisist: SOtM.

To access this web interface, all you have to do is open your browser and use the generic local address: wstreamer.local or find the IP address of the WMiniHPA MK2 on your home network. There are different possibilities for this:

  • Enter the generic address: http: //wminihpamk2.local/
  • From Windows, in the network environment, the drive is visible as a computer or a NAS server . Just click on the player for its web interface to open in your browser.
  • With the free Fing app on Android or iOS. This lists all the elements available on your network, the player will appear in the list.
  • Through the Roon application. In the parameters of the automatically recognized Waversa there is a link “Configure Device” which leads directly to the web interface.

In addition to the basic commands, this interface gives access to some additional settings. For example, you can select the model of infrared remote control used.

It is also possible to intervene on the sound processing. The first parameter concerns oversampling. In four steps, x1 x2 x4 or x8, it multiplies the frequency of the song being played within the limit of 384 kHz.

While playing on Roon, I can check that the oversampling is active here: 48kHz is multiplied by 8 to output to 384 kHz before being converted to analog.

The second parameter is called WAP / X ( Waversa Audio Processor Extension) whose objective is to make the playback of digital streams more analog. For this, the processor adds the harmonics of order 2, 3 or 4 as can the tube amplifiers.

The characteristics of a tube amplifier are appreciated for their warm tones. They are reproduced here using digital technologies via a microprocessor. The latter may be updated via software in the future to complete the sound enhancement capabilities of the Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 .

Three wired sources, plus network music

This Waversa device has six sources. Three are wired, these are the digital inputs of the DAC for a CD player, a television and a computer for example. The others go through the network connection and are dematerialized. They are based on three distinct network and music protocols.

WNDR is a protocol for broadcasting audio through the proprietary network between Waversa devices only. It allows a Waversa streamer to communicate with a Waversa DAC through a network switch, only in Ethernet, instead of a traditional USB cable for example.

The DLNA / UPnP is more universal. It lets you use your favorite application: BubbleUPnP on Android, mconnect on iOS for example, or Audirvana and JRiver via your MacOS or Windows computer. The Waversa is visible as a UPnP player only when this source is selected on the device (front button or remote control).

Roon, the third protocol, is accessible anytime, regardless of the active source on the WMiniHPA MK2 . If I start reading from Roon, the player immediately switches to Roon.

Let’s finish with the UPnP server function of Waversa . If I plug a USB key or external hard drive into the WMiniHPA MK2 , its content is readable by the streamer but it is also shared on my network. Any other UPnP device can then access it.

Waversa WMiniHPA MK2: small in size, big in soundstage  

Listening took place from Roon, with the Qobuz service, and in UPnP via mconnect and BubbleUPnP. I connected the balanced outputs with XLR cords to a Parasound A23 power amplifier then Dynaudio Special Forty speakers. I connected my USB stick filled with test files to the USB-A port of the WMiniHPA MK2 .

The XLR outputs can be used in two ways. Either to power headphones, or to connect an amplifier. In this case, which was mine for listening, the gain must absolutely be set on the amplifier because the output level of the WMiniHPA MK2 is high. If the gain is incorrectly adjusted, you will have hiss in your speakers. It is therefore preferable to lower the gain of the amplifier and increase the volume of the Waversa .

To begin, I immediately notice the important proportions of the soundstage. It stretches from top to bottom, from right to left well outside the limits of the speakers. This is the signature of excellent streamers.

On Stacey Kent’s orchestral sessions, her voice is well pitched, cut with a scalpel and perfectly separated from the rest of the instruments. They play in their place, a little to the right, a little to the left. I close my eyes and I can locate them precisely in front of me.

The WMiniHPA MK2 is simply musical. No need to ask questions, I taste with pleasure. On Billie Eilish’s track Bad Guy where the voices are multiplied, I effortlessly distinguish the different places where they come from.

The music breathes with endings fading into space until the last breath. As for the mastery in the bass, it is at the top level with punch and roundness. The WMiniHPA MK2 never mixes brushes.

On the live at Jeff Goldblum’s Capitol Studios, the soundstage is established in front of the speakers. I hear all the reactions of the audience distinctly between the speakers and my listening position, as if I were there.

I also note a mastery of micro-information by the streamer Waversa at all sound levels. Music easily fills the room without the need to turn up the volume excessively.

I then tried the different audio settings, between upsampling and adding harmonics. The changes are subtle and you will need a system of sufficient quality to perceive the changes. Regarding the oversampling, I found the listening more readable, even finer when it was activated. It is therefore in your best interest to leave it on permanently.

The WLPS linear power supply offered by Waversa is an essential element to consider, if not essential. From its use, the sound rendering is overall more harmonious with a better defined bass. The whole musical spectrum becomes more consistent and more “analog”. The reader delivers all his qualities, it is undeniable.

Let’s finish by listening to headphones via the sockets on the front. Here again I find this faculty to explore all the registers without restraint and to recreate an ultra wide soundstage. My Beyerdynamic headphones already excel in this area. Combined with the WMiniHPA MK2 , I get even more ventilation that can almost make it seem like I no longer have a helmet on my head.

Conclusion – Waversa WMiniHPA test

Do you want to build your first high quality HiFi system or simplify an existing system? The Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 will meet your expectations. Because simplify, he knows how to do. By bringing together five key functions of a current digital system, it covers most of the needs. It is also an excellent headphone amplifier with no less than four different outputs to adapt to the connections of your equipment. The WMiniHPA MK2can be controlled from the most used and efficient mobile applications: BubbleUPnP, mconnect, Audirva or JRiver for example. Let’s not forget its server function from a simple USB key. It is based on the MinimServer software, which we have already told you about, used by other high quality systems such as SotM. The Waversa WMiniHPA MK2 DAC / streamer / server / pre-amplifier / headphone amplifier will be the center of a high-fidelity high-fidelity installation.

Positives of Waversa WMiniHPA MK2

  • The compact format.
  • Multiple features: DAC / streamer / server / pre-amplifier / headphone amplifier
  • The four headphone outputs.
  • The breadth of the soundstage.
  • Respect for all musical registers.
  • The precision of micro-information.

Negatives of Waversa WMiniHPA MK2

  • No separate buttons to select the source on the front panel

 

 

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