Pioneer XW-NAC3 mini hi-fi

Pioneer XW-NAC3 review: A mini hi-fi stereo that has two iPod docks and good sound

Pioneer XW-NAC3
  • Pioneer XW-NAC3
  • Pioneer XW-NAC3
  • Pioneer XW-NAC3
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Dual iPod docks useful for shuffling between music on two iPods, great sound quality

Cons

  • We're not sure how often you'd use both iPod docks, no Wi-Fi, no FM radio

Bottom Line

Pioneer's XW-NAC3 mini hi-fi is full of innovative features. Even if you're not using the dual-iPod shuffle feature, the second dock might be useful for charging your iPhone while listening to music on an iPod. Internet radio is also available (although there's no wireless networking support) and Bluetooth streaming works well. We think that given the range of features on offer the Pioneer XW-NAC3 is worth its asking price.

Would you buy this?

The Pioneer XW-NAC3 is a mini hi-fi that takes the unusual step of incorporating two iPod docks — if two iPods or iPhones are plugged in, you're able to shuffle between music on both devices seamlessly. It's also got everything you'd expect in a $700 hi-fi system, apart from the baffling lack of FM radio and no Wi-Fi.

Pioneer XW-NAC3 mini hi-fi: Design and features

The Pioneer XW-NAC3 is well designed, as far as iPod docks go — we've seen far less conventional layouts before. The low placement of the XW-NAC3's screen on the front might be a minor concern if you plan to keep it on a low-slung coffee table or kitchen counter, though. All the buttons are arranged on the mini hi-fi's top around the two iPod docks and are clearly labelled. An input selector button switches between iPod playback, Bluetooth streaming, USB, and Internet radio (once it's set up).

Dual iPod playback is the XW-NAC3's defining feature. If you have two iPods or iPhones plugged in — in our testing we swapped between a iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and a 5th generation iPod Nano — you can play music off either, or press the centrally placed shuffle button to play music off both. Songs from both devices' music libraries are played: When a song finishes on the first device, the XW-NAC3 cross-fades into a song from the second. You can also use a smart shuffle feature that plays the first ten seconds of a song and then moves on, letting you quickly pick a song from either iPod.

USB playback is simple, with a top-mounted port that is hidden by a cap. The range of files played back by the Pioneer XW-NAC3 is impressive — as well as support for MP3, WMA, WAV and AAC formats, the FLAC format is supported, allowing high-quality lossless audio to be played on the XW-NAC3.

If you plug the Pioneer XW-NAC3 into your router via Ethernet — annoyingly, there's no integrated Wi-Fi — you're able to access tens of thousands of Internet streaming radio stations. We appreciate the inclusion — you've always got something to listen to — but in a $700 product we would have liked to see Wi-Fi included for ease of setup and use. We're also unsure why FM radio wasn't included.

Bluetooth audio streaming — we used an iPhone 4 — works well with no drop-outs in streaming while we were within around 8 metres of the Pioneer XW-NAC3. Sound quality isn't as good as directly connecting a device for music playback, but in a pinch it's OK. Pioneer has a range of equaliser and DSP settings that make compressed audio sound a little better — bass and treble are slightly tweaked to make tracks played over Bluetooth a little less muddy.

Pioneer XW-NAC3 mini hi-fi: Sound quality

The Pioneer XW-NAC3 has excellent sound quality for its size — we'd put it on par with the audio from the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 and Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, with warm and rich sound that could easily fill a medium-sized room. The XW-NAC3 doesn't have particularly strong bass, but treble is clear and mid-range tones are detailed and not at all muddy.

We were able to push the Pioneer XW-NAC3 all the way to its maximum volume without encountering any speaker distortion. The warm sound remains constant all the way to full volume, as well — it doesn't become harsh or booming. The Pioneer XW-NAC3 also presents a wide sound-stage, with good separation between its stereo speakers. Music sounds as if it's coming from a larger hi-fi system rather than a little single-cabinet speaker.

Pioneer XW-NAC3 mini hi-fi: Conclusion

If you're an iPod junkie, if you've got your digital music collection stored in a range of formats and devices, or even if you're looking for a convenient charging station for a couple of Apple devices at once, the XW-NAC3 makes a compelling argument for itself.

Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook

Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide

Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters

Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: mini hi-fi, Pioneer, home entertainment, ipod docks
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?