The D-Stream WAMP200 connected receiver is a stereo amplifier with audio streaming functions that stands out from the competition due to its ultra-compact format. This device is actually so small that it could pass for a WiFi router. Capable of delivering 2×60 W in peak, it also features a Bluetooth receiver (for streaming music from a smartphone), an optical input, and analog line-in. The WAMP200 is also compatible with Spotify Connect, Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, and HD audio streaming. All of this for less than 400€… So what’s the catch?
Such a small amplifier, is that normal?
Measuring only 8 cm in height and about 20 cm in depth and length, the D-Stream WAMP200 doesn’t exactly look like your typical receiver. Moreover, it weighs less than a kilogram. Nothing abnormal here since we are dealing with a digital amplifier. In other words, this receiver uses a switched-mode power supply which is, by definition, extremely compact, instead of a large toric transformer. The icing on the cake, the WAMP200 comes with an external power supply.
How does it work?
In the case of a classic integrated amplifier, the analog audio signals are preamplified first, then amplified. The preamplification stage actually consists of a drastic attenuation (under-amplification) of the source signal to counterbalance the substantial, fixed gain applied by the amplification module. In order to ensure proper sound restitution at an appropriate level, the signal is “compressed,” which results in an alteration of the sound quality.
Digital amplifiers (Class D amplifiers) have the particularity of bypassing this step, which means that the quality of the signal remains unaffected.
The D-Stream WAMP200 connected receiver digitizes all incoming signals, directly amplifies them, and convert them into audible sound at the end of the chain. This method results in a very soft and spacious sound restitution.
The competition is rather fierce in this price range. Most notably from Yamaha, who’s catalog includes multiple standard amplifiers (Yamaha MusicCast R-N303), connected amplifiers, and models with an integrated CD player (Yamaha MusicCast CRX-N470). Denon is last in the race with its range of Ceol connected receivers. Nevertheless, none of these amplifiers are as compact as the D-Stream WAMP200.
We are quite used to DTS Play-Fi, Yamaha MusicCast, Denon Heos, and Sonos technologies but we are not as familiar with Qualcomm AllPlay. This might very well be our loss. Qualcomm AllPlay is a comprehensive music streaming technology developed by the design team responsible for the Snapdragon SoC for smartphone and the Bluetooth aptX codec. Compatible with Internet radios, files shared over the local network (DLNA servers) and stored on a smartphone (lossless transmission of files in high-resolution), Qualcomm AllPlay even allows multiroom streaming to multiple compatible devices.
When installing a new network device, our usual line of conduct can be summarized by “let’s plug it in and see what happens.” So, we simply activated the D-Stream WAMP200 and grabbed our smartphone. As you may have observed from the pictures, the receiver is fitted with two WiFi antennas (bi-band, 2.4GHz and 5GHz) and may be controlled in this way. A web server dedicated to the configuration of the device and a WiFi access point function may also be accessed from a smartphone. The WAMP200’s SSID is accessible as soon as the amplifier is activated. Simply connect to the device using a smartphone and a web page will automatically open which will allow you to rename the device as well as select the WiFi network that provides Internet access.
After confirming the settings, the WAMP200 will restart and your smartphone will reconnect to the home WiFi network and that’s it. Well, that’s almost it. It is still necessary to install the D-Stream Air app (available for iOS and Android) on your smartphone in order to start listening to music.
Here is a list of online music services compatible with the app: Tidal, AudioBoom, Qobuz, Spotify, Deezer (HiFi with paid membership), Palco MP3, Recochoku, Dar FM, Napster and Rhapsody.
Testing conditions and listening impressions
We connected a pair of Klipsch Heresy III to the D-Stream WAMP200 using Viard Audio Premium HD HP speaker wire. We connected a UHD TV to the optical input, streamed songs from Deezer, and listened to FLAC audio files (16 and 24-bits) stored on a Lenovo P2 smartphone (Android 8.1). The amplifier was connected to our local network over WiFi on the 5GHz band and we used a Google WiFi router.
Let’s be honest, we were a bit wary when Next Audio, D-Stream’s importer, contacted us to review the WAMP200. An unknown brand which checks all the boxes right out of the gate: compact, multiroom, HD, bi-band WiFi, powerful sound restitution, control app…It seemed too good to be true and our first thought was that there must be some sort of hidden flaw, such as a lack of musicality, for example. On the other hand, we know that Next Audio carefully selects brands before importing their products, Cowon and NuPrime being prime examples of this rigorous selection process. By hooking up a pair of Heresy III to the WAMP200 for our test, we made sure that we would be reviewing this amplifier in the best conditions possible, although it would be a rather difficult environment for a mediocre device. No need to delay our verdict any longer, the only drawback to this receiver is that it takes a moment to turn on (about 15 seconds). As for the rest…
We were very pleasantly surprised to hear absolutely no background noise once the device switched on, even when putting our ear right by the Heresy’s acoustic horn. Keep in mind that the sensitivity rating of these loudspeakers is close to 100dB. Amplifiers with such a signal-to-noise ratio are extremely rare. The other great surprise was the very progressive volume increments. The first increment brings the sound volume to an extremely quiet level. First we had a sigh of relief, then the first notes of Chet Baker’s Everything Depends on You (FLAC 16/44) instantly put a smile on our face. The soundstage is spacious and the tone is spot on.
The sound restitution is roomy and the soundstage is wide and deep. The mids are well-detailed, rich, and soft. The highs are light and expansive. The lows are sturdy, energetic, and precise.
The balance is excellent and we didn’t feel the need to use the D-Stream Air app EQ function. We then moved on to a live soundtake with George Michael’s cover of Wham’s Everything She Wants (FLAC 24/44). Drums and bass guitar are well leveled, the dynamics are well established, and the restitution is never excessively sharp nor is it ever aggressive. The D-Stream WAMP200 masterfully controls the Heresy’s 12” driver. The back vocals are placed right behind the artist and benefit from a lot of room. U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky (FLAC 16/44) confirmed the qualities of this amplifier and its ability to handle rock songs. The D-Stream WAMP200 knows how to leave room between the sound layers and has the ability to extract every instrument while binding them together with undeniable talent. After hours of testing (optical input included), the D-Stream WAMP200 paired with our speakers scored a perfect score. Well done!
Let’s not beat around the bush, nothing beats the D-Stream WAMP200 in this price range and comparing this receiver to the competition would result in pointing out the shortcomings of other devices. This compact streaming receiver is the unquestionable proof that all-in-one digital amplifiers can be considered as an alternative to separated elements (source, preamp, amplifier). By testing the D-Stream WAMP200 with Klipsch Heresy III speakers, we also observed that it has no problem driving demanding floorstanding speakers. The wind of change is blowing through the world of HiFi…
What we liked:
- The dynamic, soft, and spacious sound restitution
- The HD streaming and lossless transmission functions
- The user-friendly design
- The responsive control app
- The amplifier’s quick reaction to commands transmitted via the local network
What we would have liked:
- A shorter activation time, but this is probably the price one has to pay to enjoy such a high-quality product.