Pioneer has taken a bold step into the ultra-competitive wireless speaker arena with the Australian launch of its SMA wireless speaker range. The range is comprised of three models: the entry-level XW-SMA1, the portable XW-SMA3, and the step-up, high quality XW-SMA4.
All three models include the same connectivity, differing only in sound quality and portability. If you’ve got a Wi-Fi network set up in your home, you can connect any number of SMA speakers to your Wi-Fi network and transmit audio to them wirelessly from a variety of devices.
The SMA speakers' natural competitor is Sonos's multi-room hi-fi audio systems. Pioneer is offering its speakers with similar wireless features, although the equivalent of the separate Sonos 'mesh network' component and dedicated Sonos app are not needed for Pioneer's system.
Integrated AirPlay support means any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or computer running iTunes can play music through the SMA speakers without a direct connection. A much wider range of devices including Android smartphones and any Windows PC is supported using the DLNA 1.5 wireless sharing standard. A new communication standard for HTC devices, HTC Connect, is supported and will be usable when the feature is launched.
The XW-SMA1 is the smallest of Pioneer’s new speakers, with dual 3-inch speakers and a 3/4-inch tweeter. The XW-SMA3 has the same speaker and cabinet design, but fits in a lithium battery that runs for six hours at half volume or four hours at full volume — making the speaker portable. The premium XW-SMA4 uses a larger cabinet to house five speakers — dual 3-inch drivers, dual 3/4-inch tweeters, and a 4-inch subwoofer.
The speakers can be run directly from a smartphone or tablet using AirPlay or DLNA, or can be connected in a multi-room, multi-speaker setup when music is playing off a Mac or PC running music software like iTunes — a smartphone or tablet running Apple’s Remote app can then control the PC wirelessly.
The SMA speakers have push-button wireless setup, but can also be temporarily run in Wireless Direct mode, which creates an individual wireless hot-spot using the speaker’s Wi-Fi chip. This can be used to take direct control of a speaker in a multi-room setup, and also comes in handy when using the speakers in a location without an existing Wi-Fi network.
A USB port supports direct playback from any compatible mobile device like an iPhone or Android smartphone, and can also charge any device connected to the SMA speaker. A 3.5mm auxiliary input provides back-up connection for any legacy device without wireless or USB playback.
Pioneer will offer all three XW-SMA speakers in Australia, with the XW-SMA1 pegged at $399, and both the XW-SMA3 and XW-SMA4 priced at $499. They’ll be available in JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, and selected Dick Smith and David Jones stores from mid-September.