Pioneer is entering the modular speaker market with their wireless XW-SMA range. On paper, these speakers impress with their varied connectivity options, but has Pioneer covered all their bases at the expense of sound quality? To find out, we tested the company's introductory XW-SMA1.
The introductory XW-SMA1 houses two 3-inch mid-range drivers, a 1-inch tweeter and a central bass reflex port. Together with the larger XW-SMA4 and the mobile XW-SMA3, they complete Pioneers Wireless Sound System range.
The XW-SMA Family
Even though the XW-SMA1 resides at the bottom of the range, it still features the same plentiful connectivity options as its siblings. It has AirPlay for Apple devices, DLNA for everything else, an auxiliary input and an USB port. It can jump on your home network (wired and unwired), and for those who don't have a home network, includes Wireless Direct technology, which allows it to create its own wireless network with another device.
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The entire speaker is dressed uniformly in black, with each panel distinguished by its own premium texture: the enclosure is polished; the grill is sternâ€”I imagine enough to withstand the brunt of a punchâ€”and even the rear is attractive. Its design has been dictated by symmetry and like any work of art has been marked by its artist, Pioneer's Chief Sound Engineer Andrew Jones, with his printed signature marked on the back.
The only element undermining its charm is a crude antennae protruding unapologetically from its back-left. It resembles a WiFi router, but hides in plain sight with an effortless turn.
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The XW-SMA communicates through a series of poly-coloured LED lights. The buttons featured at the base of its faÃ§ade would be invisible was it not for their subtle text-labelling. It only takes a quick look at the manual's diagrams to familiarise yourself with the basic lingo, and as a whole, it works.
Its wireless repertoire equips it with the skill to pair and play music from a smartphone/tablet/computer/anything-else-with-a-connectivity-pulse, and generally pairing takes no more than three simple steps.
The XW-SMA3 features an in-built rechargable battery, making it ideal outdoors
When testing, we used the XW-SMA1 with an Android device, Samsung Galaxy S3, and an iPhone 4S, both of which worked with no trouble.
Pressing play saw the speaker belt thumping audio across our large office. Size considering, we were very impressed with how tactile it was across different genres and how Pioneer had managed to make the entire experience simple.
Scattering multiple XW-SMA speakers through any home would see it imbued with rich sound, ample gusto and enlivened atmosphere.
Considering it has a USB port, which can be used to charge devices or playback music, it's hard to think of a reason why you'd buy a similarly priced docking system. After all, there is a sense of future-proofing when you commit to wireless technologies.
We like the design concept of the XW-SMA1. It combines retro charm, premium materials and modern technologies for a speaker system that is confident in the job at hand: Play. Music. Wirelessly.