Pioneer XW-SMA3-K review

Portable, network-savvy and easy to use, but it needs more entertainment value Tested at £300

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Portable, network-savvy and easy to use, but it needs more entertainment value


  • +

    Inoffensive sound

  • +


  • +

    easy to set up and use

  • +

    plenty of network features


  • -

    Not the most exciting listen

  • -

    needs to go louder (especially if you're outside)

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

For most companies, hi-fi tech and the outdoors rarely make good bedfellows. Pioneer, though, is seeking to challenge that notion with its portable, rechargeable – and splash-proof – XW-SMA3 20W wireless speaker.

The SMA3 can connect to your home network via ethernet if you wish, but its real appeal lies in its wi-fi compatibility. There’s AirPlay on board for Apple fans, the HTC Connect equivalent if you own an HTC One smartphone, and also Pioneer’s own Wireless Direct feature.

This last feature lets you connect to the speaker without the need for an existing network – which means that, if you like, you can take the dock to the park and carry on streaming. It’s also compatible with the DLNA standard – so you can access files stored on networked hard drives, too.

Pioneer XW-SMA3-K: AirPlay set-up

Getting the unit hooked up to your network for AirPlay streaming is simple enough – simply plug your Apple device into the SMA3’s USB port, hold down a couple of buttons and the speaker does the rest.

It’s a far cry from the AirPlay docks of old, which required set-up pages and passwords. Using Wireless Direct, likewise, is a simple case of holding down the network button and then tapping the SMA3 in your device’s settings.

Pioneer XW-SMA3-K

Pioneer XW-SMA3-K: Sound quality
In use it’s a bit of a mixed bag. For a unit of this size (it’s about the size of a shoe-box) you might be expecting reasonably hefty low frequencies – but that isn’t on the table.

We like the fact that Pioneer hasn’t gone down the gratuitously bassy route, but we can’t help feeling it’s missed a trick here. What bass you do get is a little imprecise, to boot.

It’s a tad restrained elsewhere, too, with leading edges of notes sounding a bit soft and the midrange sounding rather closed-in, especially during more complex parts. But even though it’s not the punchiest sound, it’s never harsh and vocals are clear – which we applaud.

Pioneer XW-SMA3-K: Verdict
We can’t totally recommend the SMA3. We love its ease of use – and its portability – but it needs more excitement and punch to really seal the deal.

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test