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Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Review

Rate this streamer

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 60 43.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 68 49.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 7 5.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 2.2%

  • Total voters
    138

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Dayton Audio WBA31 Wifi/Bluetooth Streamer. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $62.98.
Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Airplay Bluetooth Steamer Review.jpg


As you see, it is a little plastic box as you would expect at this price. Power is provided through a USB adapter:
Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Airplay Bluetooth Steamer Toslink Review.jpg

Both analog and Toslink digital outputs are provided which is nice. And unusually so, there is analog input as well (I did not test this).

Streaming protocols include Airplay which is what I used for my testing over Wifi.

Setup was smoother than many others I have tested using company's app. You connect to its Wifi AP temporarily to configure it and then you can both control the device and play content using their app.

Dayton WBA31 Audio Measurements
I used my Roon player to talk to the WBA31 over its Airplay interface. Airplay is limited to 16 bits so best case SINAD is usually in the 90s. Here, we get much lower value due to high distortion of the DAC (volume is maxed out):

Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Airplay Measurements.png


I was also disappointed that the output was just 0.74 volts. Seeing how this is powered by 5 volts, I expect it to product at least 1 if not 2 volts.

I then switched to Toslink output (which is active concurrently with analog out), and got much improved results:
Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Airplay Toslink Measurements.png


As noted, this is probably as good as Airplay gets. I then used the App on the device to stream, hoping that it would do better than Airplay. Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion.

Going back to analog, here is our dynamic range:
Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Airplay Dynamic Range  Measurements.png


Not great but passable for this type of device.

Jitter over Airplay was quite poor when combined with generally bad response of the DAC:
Dayton Audio WBA31 Streamer Airplay Jitter Measurements.png


Since my analyzer can't control the device, I don't have any sweeps for you to share. But I think we have a good picture of the device already.

Conclusions
One doesn't have high expectations going into a review like this but always hope for the better. That wasn't meant to be here. Clearly the DAC is a "checklist" item here with performance likely never measured or looked at. I will probably produce OK sound but you are not going to want to invite your neighbors to brag about what a high performance streamer you have!

Overall value is quite high though and inclusion of Toslink should let it produce much better performance if paired with an external DAC.

Personally I can't recommend the Dayton Audio WBA31. Then again for this much money, the fact that it works and brings this level of functionality may be good enough to spend money on.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Tangband

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Yet another device based on the outdated Linkplay A31 module. Stick with the WiiM devices, with newer and much better performing Linkplay modules.
Yes. I cant believe there are still people on this forum that believes that all digital are the same and theres no real difference. This test and many others from Amirm shows different.
 

vkvedam

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WiiM Mini is a better choice, definitely!
 
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Talisman

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Yes. I cant believe there are still people on this forum that believes that all digital are the same and theres no real difference. This test and many others from Amirm shows different.
The digital signal is always the same, that's not in question. The implementation may or may not be correct, it may provide true bit perfect streaming or not, it may have a competent dac or not.
Digital is not in question, only the tool that manages it
 

thewas

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The digital signal is always the same, that's not in question. The implementation may or may not be correct, it may provide true bit perfect streaming or not, it may have a competent dac or not.
Digital is not in question, only the tool that manages it
Correct, also the possibly audibly degradation problem usually lies in the analogue circuitry, not the digital domain.
 

AudioSceptic

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Dayton Audio WBA31 Wifi/Bluetooth Streamer. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $62.98.
View attachment 256182

As you see, it is a little plastic box as you would expect at this price. Power is provided through a USB adapter:
View attachment 256183
Both analog and Toslink digital outputs are provided which is nice. And unusually so, there is analog input as well (I did not test this).

Streaming protocols include Airplay which is what I used for my testing over Wifi.

Setup was smoother than many others I have tested using company's app. You connect to its Wifi AP temporarily to configure it and then you can both control the device and play content using their app.

Dayton WBA31 Audio Measurements
I used my Roon player to talk to the WBA31 over its Airplay interface. Airplay is limited to 16 bits so best case SINAD is usually in the 90s. Here, we get much lower value due to high distortion of the DAC (volume is maxed out):

View attachment 256185

I was also disappointed that the output was just 0.74 volts. Seeing how this is powered by 5 volts, I expect it to product at least 1 if not 2 volts.

I then switched to Toslink output (which is active concurrently with analog out), and got much improved results:
View attachment 256186

As noted, this is probably as good as Airplay gets. I then used the App on the device to stream, hoping that it would do better than Airplay. Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion.

Going back to analog, here is our dynamic range:
View attachment 256187

Not great but passable for this type of device.

Jitter over Airplay was quite poor when combined with generally bad response of the DAC:
View attachment 256188

Since my analyzer can't control the device, I don't have any sweeps for you to share. But I think we have a good picture of the device already.

Conclusions
One doesn't have high expectations going into a review like this but always hope for the better. That wasn't meant to be here. Clearly the DAC is a "checklist" item here with performance likely never measured or looked at. I will probably produce OK sound but you are not going to want to invite your neighbors to brag about what a high performance streamer you have!

Overall value is quite high though and inclusion of Toslink should let it produce much better performance if paired with an external DAC.

Personally I can't recommend the Dayton Audio WBA31. Then again for this much money, the fact that it works and brings this level of functionality may be good enough to spend money on.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
What a missed opportunity. You can do so much better with an RPi + HiFi Berry DAC, at least when RPis become available again at sensible prices.
 

PeteL

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Correct, also the possibly audibly degradation problem usually lies in the analogue circuitry, not the digital domain.
"Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion."
In which domain do you think these types of problems lies?
 

thewas

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"Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion."
In which domain do you think this problem lies?
That's why I wrote usually, also converting 24 bits to 16 bits does not cause audible problems when done correctly (with dithering), it is done since decades in almost every conversion of the studio files to typical distribution formats like CD.
 

PeteL

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That's why I wrote usually, also converting 24 bits to 16 bits does not cause audible problems when done correctly (with dithering), it is done since decades in almost every conversion of the studio files to typical distribution formats like CD.
Yep, "when done correctly" is key.
 

Tangband

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Which isn't a rocket science and thus no need for "special audiophile engineering".
You are ofcourse right that this is not rocketscience, but despite of that, we continue to see substandard solutions with jitter and bit truncation in several streamers. Not only in cheap ones. This is a big problem in the bad cases. No analog part can save a bad digital part in a streamer.
 

PeteL

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Which isn't a rocket science and thus no need for "special audiophile engineering".
I did not say anything about special audiophile engineering. But what about volume control, what about jitter, what about noise induced drop bits, nothing in audio is rocket science, but still some do better than others. In real life there is rarely such concept as "bit perfect" There is always manipulations, rounding errors and so on.
 

Tangband

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"Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion."
In which domain do you think these types of problems lies?
This is a good example of a substandard digital part in this streamer.
 

thewas

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I did not say anything about special audiophile engineering. But what about volume control, what about jitter, what about noise induced drop bits, nothing in audio is rocket science, but still some do better than others. In real life there is rarely such concept as "bit perfect" There is always manipulations, rounding errors and so on.
Which are usually not audible though but mainly used to spread typical audiophile FUD. ;)
 

PeteL

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Which are usually not audible though but mainly used to spread typical audiophile FUD. ;)
Probably as inaudible as 100+ dB SINAD, but still could be the difference about a product that is great and another considered a total fail. Someone with as many messages as you would know by now that ASR is not about what's audible.
 

thewas

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Probably as inaudible as 100+ dB SINAD, but still could be the difference about a product that is great and another considered a total fail. Someone with as many messages as you would know by now that ASR is not about what's audible.
If some people consider as a total fail something that has a lower but still inaudible SINAD than its their personal thing and not every ASR member thinks like that. ;)
 

JohnBooty

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As Amir said:
Airplay is limited to 16 bits so best case SINAD is usually in the 90s.
Whatever 24-to-16 truncation is happening, it's completely independent of this device.

As noted, this is probably as good as Airplay gets. I then used the App on the device to stream, hoping that it would do better than Airplay. Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion.
I assume Amir is talking about Dayton's own streaming app? Unless you're planning on using Dayton's propietary Airplay streaming app, this bit depth truncation issue is probably not relevant to anybody reading this review.
 

mdsimon2

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I then used the App on the device to stream, hoping that it would do better than Airplay. Alas, it seemed to truncate 24 bit samples to 16 bits, causing a ton of distortion.

@amirm does this look worse than the Airplay TOSLINK output dashboard measurement for this device? What does a ton of distortion mean? If you have the measurement can you please share it?

Michael
 

Multicore

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Yet another device based on the outdated Linkplay A31 module. Stick with the WiiM devices, with newer and much better performing Linkplay modules.
Idk what a linkplay module is but I ordered a WiiM Pro after reading your comment and the product blurb. Thanks!

For now I'm playing Amazon Music over BT5/LDAC and I'm not keen on either BT or streaming from the phone.
 
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