Pioneer XW-SMA4

A wireless speaker box that’s a cut above

Image: Hugh Threlfall

The introduction of the smaller (and wonderfully engineered) Lightning charger connector on the iPhone 5 and both new iPads has precipitated the death of the iDevice dock as a genre. Since the Apple widget to convert the hideous, clumsy old 30-pin connector to the sleek new one is necessarily almost an inch tall, plugging in an iPhone or iPad – when the old design already looked a bit silly and tombstone-like – now seems somewhat absurd.


This is fine, because wireless connecting docks are now coming out weekly, mostly using Apple AirPlay, but other systems, too. A life misspent in gadgetry has taught me never to ignore the venerable Japanese brand Pioneer. Although it withdrew from the TV market and its fabulous Kuro plasma is much missed, the brand’s in-car and audio gear is several cuts above the average.


This, its first wireless speaker box, is a reassuringly heavy-duty, subwoofing machine with a touch of the Mercedes about it – if you regard a lot of the competition as a bit Vauxhall. It sounds good and feels, well, like quality. There will inevitably be more like it this coming year, but for me it will take some beating.