How do you connect two, three or four wireless speakers to one source (Airplay) or a Pioneer Receiver?
Pioneer XW-SMA4 wireless hi-fi speaker
This Wi-Fi speaker has excellent sound quality to match its convenience
- Excellent bass, clean musical detail
- Entirely simple setup and usage
- Can be a little too bassy for speech, podcasts
- Expensive at RRP
Pioneer’s XW-SMA4 is its premium Wi-Fi hi-fi speaker, with the $100 premium over the cheaper XW-SMA1 translating to a built-in subwoofer. If you listen to a lot of music, or listen to it loud, buying the SMA4 is a no-brainer, but it’s an expensive product that’s got stiff competition from Sonos and Libratone.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
In the past twelve months, dozens of hi-fi speakers with built-in Wi-Fi networking have popped up on electronics store shelves. While our gold standard is still Sonos’s excellent PLAY:5 speaker, we were recently impressed by Libratone’s Lounge and Live.
Pioneer’s September 2012 announcement of its XW-SMA range of wireless speakers caught our attention, though; three compact models aim for high-end sound and simple operation. We’re taking a look at the premium XW-SMA4 first.
Pioneer XW-SMA4: Design, features and setup
The Pioneer XW-SMA4 is the largest of the Pioneer XW-SMA family, but it’s not massively larger than the smaller SMA1 and SMA4 — measuring 360 x 210 x 170mm and 5kg, it’s heavy but still compact.
The speaker is finished in a deep, glossy black on its sides and top, with the same gloss black on the speaker’s front grille. The internal surround, where you’ll find the XW-SMA4’s status lights and non-tactile touch-sensitive buttons, is finished in a matte dark grey plastic.
The same matte finish covers the back, which has a flip-up Wi-Fi antenna, power plug, Ethernet wired network port, powered USB port and 3.5mm auxiliary input, which can be used to connect an iPod, iPad, iPhone or other smartphone or tablet. The USB port will play back audio from Apple products, but can only be used to power or charge non-Apple devices.
Beyond the front panel’s power, input toggle and volume buttons, the only other button on the Pioneer XW-SMA4 is on the back. It’s a dual-mode Wi-Fi networking switch; press it for a second to start the speaker’s Wi-Fi Push Button Setup (WPS) mode, after which you can press the corresponding WPS button on your router to connect the speaker to your home network. Alternatively, pressing the XW-SMA4’s networking button for a longer period restarts the speaker in a Wireless Direct mode, creating an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network which you can connect your smartphone or tablet to directly — this is intended to be used where no infrastructure, Internet-connected Wi-Fi network exists.
Setting up the Pioneer XW-SMA4 is very simple. Instructions for installing the speaker via a PC or Mac, iOS or Android device are all included — they involve using either the Ethernet port or the rear USB port — but we opted for the incredibly basic WPS push-button procedure. After pressing the WPS button on the rear of the SMA4, we did the same on our Wi-Fi router — and you should find a WPS button on most Wi-Fi routers made within the last few years, or at the very least a web-based menu option — and the whole process was completed in under 30 seconds.
After the setup process is complete, the SMA speaker is connected to your Wi-Fi network. You can stream music wirelessly using a Wi-Fi enabled PC or Mac over DLNA (PC) or AirPlay (Mac), or via AirPlay on a mobile Apple device — we did the majority of our testing with an iPhone 4.
Pioneer XW-SMA4: Performance and sound quality
You can choose two power-on modes for the Pioneer XW-SMA range of speakers. The first, default, mode is a low-power standby mode, which takes around 30-40 seconds to power the speaker up and connect to an already-setup Wi-Fi network. The second mode reduces the power-on time to under 5 seconds in our testing, at the cost of slightly higher standby power usage. For convenience, at an extra cost of a couple of dollars a year in power, we opted for the fast-on power mode.
When you’ve got the XW-SMA4 turned on, it appears as an AirPlay device whenever you’re running iTunes on your Mac or PC, or when running any other DLNA-compatible audio program like Windows Media Player. Similarly, whenever you’re running an audio playback app on your iOS device, the triangle-in-a-rectangle AirPlay icon appears. Press the icon, select the Pioneer XW-SMA4 speaker, and within a second, audio begins to play through the speaker.
Excellent sound quality is a hallmark of the Pioneer brand. The company prides itself on paying more attention and spending more time and money on getting the best sound out of its speakers, and the XW-SMA4 is no different. We presumed the ‘Tuned by Andrew Jones’ label on the rear was little more than a clever piece of marketing — he’s Pioneer’s chief sound engineer, responsible for its $10,000+ hi-fi speakers — but the XW-SMA4 genuinely impressed us. Distortion is nonexistant, even when the speaker is playing music at its uncomfortably loud maximum volume.
Bass is excellent for a speaker of the XW-SMA4’s size and design. The speaker has a 5-inch forward-firing woofer built into the centre of its cabinet, and at low to high volumes it’s able to lend an excellent level of low-end punch to music, far more so than we expected it to. It’s able to shake the floor with especially low sub-bass kicks at moderate to high volumes, which is a phenomenon we haven’t experienced before with a speaker of this size.
Treble and mid-range performance are equally strong, with a musical signature that’s crisp and sharp with slightly down-played mid-high frequencies. Turn the XW-SMA4 up and you’ll hear all the detail you could expect to in your streaming music tracks, with the unexpected added extra of appreciably strong bass.
This is a sound that’s excellent for almost all the music tracks we tried out on the Pioneer XW-SMA4 — it’s genuinely one of the best speakers we’ve heard in the wireless music category, with what is undoubtedly the best bass response. Our only proviso is that the bass can be slightly overpowering when you’re listening to speech-heavy Internet radio or podcasts — if there was a bass-attenuating Loudness switch we could toggle for listening to talk-back audio, we’d have absolutely no complaints.
We did find that the XW-SMA4 speaker’s wireless network reception was generally strong, with good range that was always the equal of any laptop, smartphone or tablet we’ve tested in the same setting. The Wi-Fi status light can get annoying, though, as it only stays solid when the Wi-Fi signal is near full strength — otherwise it flashes, which is distracting. We had the XW-SMA4 connected perfectly and playing audio back perfectly when the light was flashing — although it’s useful to tell where the best placement for the speaker is, we’d appreciate the ability to dim or disable the flashing once we were confident of an acceptably-strong Wi-Fi signal.
Pioneer XW-SMA4: Conclusion
The XW-SMA4 may be $499, but even at that price it’s an attractive one-speaker wireless hi-fi setup. If you can find it any cheaper, it’s a bargain. It’s one of the best speakers we’ve heard of its size.
I have set up my A4 using the WPS push button on my router as per above, this works fine when playing back music from my PC and iphone. How do I get it to playback on my Samsung Galaxy note 10.1?
How do you play music from Windows XP without iTunes?
Pioneer tech support, had no clue.
They gave a lot of wrong information and guidance.
- The speaker is fantastic if you are going to use it for spotify, internet radio or playing files from your android/Iphone. Sound is great for this size and money, great clarity and details.
- Software really needs to improve. In the android/ios app there is no equalizer, no DLNA player and not even an "On" button. Bass is to overwhelming
- • • •
Bass is to overwhelming but gets much better if you put a sock in the rear bassport.
Had a lot of trouble to get it to play from my NAS but finally solved it by using MonkeyAudio on my PC and UPNPPlay on my android phone.
- Best sound in class. Better than my BOSE
- Connection can be tricky.
- • • •
GREAT system! Great sound, especially Bass. WOW! Got this on a 'GOTTADEAL' notice in mid Dec. '13 for $79. CAN'T go wrong at that price! LOVE IT!! Only 4 stars because I've set up a lot of audio systems in my time, but this one was tricky at times. Other than that, the quality is 5 star worthy.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG G3 review
- 2 MiPad: Xiaomi's first tablet reviewed
- 3 Asus G550JK gaming notebook
- 4 TP-Link Archer D7 AC1750 Wireless Modem Router
- 5 Nokia Lumia 635 review
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
Latest News Articles
- Harman Kardon CL headphones review
- Mitro makes password manager open source as team heads to Twitter
- Microsoft security tool EMET 5.0 puts a leash on plugins
- AMD A10-7800 (Kaveri) APU
- Some are twisting the facts in requests to be forgotten, Google says
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
- Home Entertainment View all »
- 25% off $29.95
- 74% off $19.95
- 29% off $46.66
- $37.48 free shipping
- $29.99 free shipping
- $12.39 free shipping
- TVs View all »
- Projectors View all »
- Monitors View all »
- Digital Video View all »