Review: Pioneer X-SMC5 audio system
The Pioneer X-SMC5 can also be connected to a TV to play DVDs with a HDMI cable and play the audio through the device’s own speakers.
So whether your music is on your computer, MP3 player, smartphone, tablet, iPhone, iPad, iPod, disc or on a USB drive or all of these the Pioneer audio system can play back all of them.
There’s even a dedicated Pioneer iPhone and iPad app called AirJam which allows multiple users to connect to the X-SMC5 via Bluetooth and submit their favourite tracks to a common playlist.
There’s also an internet radio and FM Tuner on board.
The sleek unit has a slot loading CD/DVD player along with physical controls along the top edge with a display and clock on the front face which is set between two 20W speakers.
Along the bottom of the front edge is a USB port, AUX IN and a headphone jack. Beside these is iPod/iPhone dock which slide open or close flush with the front of the unit when not in use.
On the rear of the device is a HDMI Out, Ethernet port, Video Out power and a radio antenna plug.
And it all sits on a stylish silver stand to make the well-designed device a welcome addition to any room. The product has quite a small footprint so it’s not going to hog your space.
With Pioneer we expected nothing less than excellent audio quality and that’s exactly what we got with the X-SMC5.
Even though the speaker are relatively small they certainly produced a large and authoritative sound.
The audio output was enough to fill a large room. At very high volumes, the system lost its way a little with slight distortion.
Playback was in the zone between mid to high volume levels. We played a variety of music from hard rock to jazz and heard every guitar string, drum beat and piano note.
Bass was also respectable but we did need to pump it right up in the settings.
Overall the sound quality was very satisfying.
But what was even more satisfying was the ability to play back music from a number of different devices.
iPhone, iPod and iPad are supported with the AirPlay compatibility so not only do you get the music streaming to the X-SMC5, you also get the album art and you can either control it with the portable device or the Pioneer’s remote control.
But before you start screaming out about favouring only Apple users, the Pioneer X-SMC5 plays just as nicely with Android devices, Windows PCs and MP3 players that don’t feature the Apple logo.
We streamed music from an Android-powered HTC Sensation XL as easily as we did from our iPhone.
This X-SMC5 can even play back music stored on a USB thumb drive or from non-iPod digital music players through the AUX IN port.
Of course, there’s also the dock if you wanted to connect your iPhone or iPod. Not only can you hear your music directly through the Pioneer system but it will also charge the device while it’s sitting in the dock.
If you’d prefer to listen to the radio the device can accommodate you. There’s an FM Tuner on board along with internet radio which gives listeners access literally thousands of stations around the world.
Users can connect wirelessly to listen to internet radio or by connecting the Pioneer device to your router with an Ethernet cable.
It was a shame the device didn’t include a DAB+ digital radio considering Pioneer’s close ties to digital radio leader Pure.
The included remote allows users to control the entire device including switching between functions, accessing the settings, controlling volume and navigating your music.
The remote was unresponsive sometimes – we’d press stop or pause a couple of times and nothing would happen. Thankfully this only happened occasionally.
Pioneer has stepped up its game significantly with the X-SMC5. The device is like an audio Swiss Army knife with so many ways to enjoy and connect to your music.
The sound quality is also rewarding and allows users to enjoy their music no matter what device or format it happens to be without the hassle of cables
Four and a half stars (out of five)