We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Speakers Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Pioneer A3 XW-SMA3-W review


Manufacturer: Pioneer

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Pioneer A3 XW-SMA3-W is an AirPlay home speaker system with wireless sound and waterproof function. Read our Pioneer A3 XW-SMA3-W review to find out more.

The Pioneer A3 speaker system is a rugged and versatile AirPlay-compatible sound system with a raft of features. This Pioneer A3 review looks at  how the specs compare to rival systems; what the sound quality is like and offers setup advice. See also Group test: what's the best speaker set?

A key feature for the Pioneer A3 XW-SMA3-W is AirPlay, Apple’s propriety wireless audio and video streaming solution. This ensures that once the Pioneer A3 is connected to your home network it can accept music from any iOS or Mac OS X device. Bouncing music to the Pioneer A3 is as simple as clicking the AirPlay icon and choosing it from a list, and it works as well with your iPhone as it does your Mac. As an aside it also supports DLNA and HTCConnect, for non-Apple devices, so it’s actually one of the more versatile speaker systems we’ve come across. 

Aside its wireless versatility, the Pioneer A3 also a built-in portable battery which holds between a four and six hour charge, and it’s water resistant to IPX2 rating (which means it’s protected against drops of water falling to a 15 degree angle – rainproof, essentially). All of this makes it ideal for taking outside into the garden for an English summer or BBQ.

The sound has been tuned by Andrew Jones, Pioneer’s Chief Speaker Engineer (don’t worry: we’ve not heard of him either). He does a good job though, the tuning is fine, but the sound quality is so-so overall. The Pioneer A3 is neither the loudest, or strongest speaker system we’ve ever heard. The bass is especially a bit tame. 

Setup was a bit of a nightmare as well. This is more a problem we have with Apple’s AirPlay than Pioneer, however. There’s simply no easy way to connect two devices that don’t have screens or keyboards (your router; and a speaker system). The result in this case is an A2-sized Quickstart sheet with eight different options dependent on the router system you have setup. We opted for connecting via an Ethernet cable and accessing the settings through a web browser. The Pioneer web setup interface could be better; it didn’t scan for networks automatically (so you need to know the name of your network) and you also need to choose the correct password protection type (WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES, and so on). We’re lucky because we know (WPA2-PSK AES), but this isn’t consumer-level information (it isn’t even listed on AirPort Setup) so we worry about potential customers struggling. Pioneer seems to have a placed few video tutorials online to help people through. 

A fair comparison is Sonos, which has an easier setup system that involves connecting a Dock device to your router, and then pressing a button on both the Dock and Speaker. It seems a shame that Apple is being outdone by Sonos in the ‘it just works’ stakes.  

Having said that, AirPlay is a joy to use once it’s up and running. You can stream any audio from iTunes on a Mac, or any iOS device. You can even stream the audio from your computer straight to the Pioneer A3, which is great for playing music with Spotify or from Youtube (you can’t do this on a Sonos system). So once the Pioneer A3 is set up it is a great system.

Which only leaves the matter of price. £269 is fairly comparable for a system of this stature: it’s in the same region as the Sonos Play:3; half the price of a Bowers & Wilkins Air but more than a Philips Fidelio. 

Even though it seems a good system, we can’t help feeling that the Pioneer A3 is a little more than most people would want to pay for a single speaker.

Pioneer A3 XW-SMA3-W Expert Verdict »

Pioneer XW-SMA3 reviews verified by Reevoo

Pioneer XW-SMA3 Scores 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 review
Terminals: USB, AUX-in, LAN
AirPlay: Yes
Battery" Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery
Remote Control Unit: Yes
Dimensions: 320 x 180 x 145mm
Weight: 3.3 kg
Power Requirements: 100 - 240 V
Works with ControlApp: Yes
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The Pioneer A3 is a good sounding speaker, with AirPlay and other wireless compatibility. The water-proofing and battery are both a nice touch, and it’s great for taking into the garden. This makes up for the sound quality, which is okay, but not amazing. We found the setup initially tricky (although it’s easy to use once it’s up and running). On the whole we think this is a great speaker choice.

  • Pioneer XW-SMA4 review

    Pioneer XW-SMA4

    This Wi-Fi speaker has excellent sound quality to match its convenience. Read our Pioneer XW-SMA4 review.

  • Sony SA-NS510 review

    Sony SA-NS510

    Sony’s battery-powered monolithic speaker is useful, unless you're on Android. Read our Sony SA-NS510 review to find out more.

  • Sonos Wireless Dock 100 review

    Sonos Wireless Dock 100

    The Sonos Wireless Dock (WD100) is a dock that allows you to stream the content from a connected iPod or iPhone to a Sonos music system.

  • Klipsch G-17 Air AirPlay speakers review

    Klipsch G-17 Air AirPlay speakers

    With the G-17, Klipsch has built a stylish, powerful AirPlay speaker system that’s easy to recommend.

  • Pioneer X-SMC3-K review

    Pioneer X-SMC3-K

    The X-SMC3-K from Pioneer packs a lot of features in a sleek, black, desktop-compatible micro system.

IDG UK Sites

What is Google Photos? How to back up and share all of your photos for free

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Swatch launches a colourful smartwatch

IDG UK Sites

New Apple TV 2015 release date rumours: TV streaming service delayed, hand gesture interface being...