PROS / The AirPlay speaker has a stellar design and impressive sound quality.
CONS / The speaker takes an abnormally long time to turn on.
VERDICT / We recommend this speaker for its innovative design and sound quality.
The Pioneer X-SMC3-S Music Tap AirPlay Music System has an impressive, well-rounded sound. From low to high frequencies, you’ll be impressed by the absolute power coming from this AirPlay speaker. However, better AirPlay speakers don’t take as long to boot up and have more powerful bass sound.
On the surface, the AirPlay speaker appears to be pure audiophile heaven. It has two full-range drivers and four passive drivers. The speaker is AirPlay-compatible, meaning you can connect your iPod, iPhone or iPad to the speaker and establish a quick and simple connection. After the connection is made, you can stream uncompressed digital sound wirelessly, anywhere on your Wi-Fi network. The range is as far as your network extends and the sound quality is much better than other wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth.
However, the Pioneer AirPlay speaker is missing a few key factors, the first being usability. The speaker's boot-up time is outrageously long; sometimes it takes up to five minutes before it's ready to use. After the speaker is running, if you choose to use the built-in radio, you'll likely have a hard time finding a station. The dial is clunky and difficult to use.
This AirPlay speaker system's sound quality is well balanced and strong, but its emphasis is not on bass frequencies. The speaker sometimes distorts the sound at loud volumes with strong bass. Instead, the AirPlay speaker focuses largely on producing sound that’s much more solid throughout the spectrum. You can count on it to fill an average-sized living room or small business.
The Pioneer AirPlay speaker has a digital screen that displays song and speaker information. While it is useful for some of basic information such as the volume and power levels, we would have liked to see it utilized for much more. Instead of playing music videos and displaying album information and other images, the screen is under-utilized with basic display functions. It’s so small that if you’re more than a few feet away from your speaker, you won’t be able to read the display anyway.
The Pioneer X-SMC3-S Music Tap AirPlay Music System has balanced sound and an attractive design but is missing follow-through on some aspects. The screen is not as functional as it could be, and the bass sound is a little empty and will leave you wanting more.