To install the WM-10, you simply plug it into your preamp/amp/receiver via RCA stereo outputs on the back of the WM-10. Next, you set your music server’s wireless interface to connect to “Airstream”. The WM-10 then is directly connected to your music server; it doesn’t go through your network (with the result that if your music server is your PC you can’t use the internet while streaming songs). Using an Apple iPod Touch or iPhone, you download a free application called “Remote” from the App Store. The iPod then sees your iTunes library and you can select albums, artists and songs just like you do with the locally stored songs on the iPod. The iPod relays your commands via WiFi to the server and the server obeys. Volume can be controlled via the iPod or via your preamp.
I was impressed with the ease of installation. Computer set-up often involves the strategic use of profanity and the search of forums for the secret to making two components designed to a “standard” talk to each other. But in this case, setup took about 15 minutes and everything worked the first time.
I only encountered two problems. The first is somewhat obscure, but involves an item some of you will need/want to know about. My server has the Amarra player installed and integrated with iTunes. For whatever reason, the volume control on iTunes and the volume control on Amarra fight with each other when you change songs using the iPod Touch.
The second problem is that when the iPod Touch goes into sleep mode, it take a while for it to wake up and connect with the WiFi network. This is more of an annoyance than anything, but it does show a limitation of using a device that wasn’t designed as a remote as a remote (on the other hand, the iPod user interface puts a lot of dedicated remotes to shame).
I haven’t listened to anything like enough music to really say anything definitive. But I can say that my impressions so far are good. The WM-10 seems to offer a smooth and relaxed sound that avoids some of the cheap and nasty noises that can mar digital playback. I also sense that the WM-10 does a good job with low-level detail, an area where even some exotic gear can trip up. As I said before, whether the WM-10 is a noticeable step forward from an Airport Express or a Logitech Squeezebox Touch will take more testing. We’re doing that testing right now, and I’ll report back shortly.