- Page 1Pioneer XW-BTS3
- Page 2 Operation, Performance and Verdict
Pioneer XW-BTS3 – Operation
The XW-BTS3 is controlled using a tiny credit card-style remote with blister buttons, which is fiddly to use and will no doubt end up down the back of the sofa. However, its layout is fairly practical and the buttons are clearly marked.
You can control a docked iPod with this remote, allowing you to skip forward and back, explore its menus and adjust the volume. When connected via Bluetooth you can pause the music using the Pioneer’s remote.
Pairing the Pioneer with Bluetooth devices is a cinch. It’s a case of selecting Bluetooth mode, holding down the pairing button for two seconds until you hear a beep then selecting this unit on your device. We paired it up with an iPod Nano 7G and experienced no problems, and during our test drop outs were few and far between.
Pioneer XW-BTS3 – Performance
The XW-BTS3 offers pleasant if not mind-blowing sound quality. Streaming music from our iPod Nano 7G via Bluetooth, the sound is clean and robust but it’s a little too compressed and overbearing in the midrange.
A lack of clarity in the high frequencies means songs don’t sound quite as open and airy as we’d like, with hi-hats and other top-end detail getting a little lost in the mix.
This is most noticeable with the intricate textures and detail of jazz music and film soundtracks, plus voices don’t sparkle like they should. We’re not saying it’s completely devoid of detail, but anyone looking for insight and refinement should look elsewhere (and perhaps up your budget).
Swapping to the aux input and the iPod dock, we find the same limitations apply, revealing that it’s not simply down to Bluetooth’s typically compressed sound – although that obviously doesn’t help.
However, we don’t wish to paint too negative a picture of the XW-BTS3, as its sound quality is actually rather enjoyable. Up-tempo tunes are conveyed with terrific energy and punch, plus it doesn’t sound harsh at all.
The most pleasing aspect of the Pioneer’s performance is its bass reproduction, which lends a solid, rhythmic foundation without swamping out everything else.
Many small speaker docks like this overcompensate for their limitations with bass-boosting modes that sound muddy or overpowering, but the XW-BTS3 doesn’t fall into that trap. There’s decent bass presence but it’s delivered with agility and restraint, and for that Pioneer should be applauded.
Pioneer XW-BTS3 – Verdict
The XW-BTS3 is a simple, user-friendly speaker dock that makes it easy to enjoy music wirelessly from mobile devices. The use of Bluetooth over DLNA or AirPlay means you don’t have to faff about with tricky network setup – it’s the essence of plug and play. An iPod dock and minijack input provide more ways of listening.
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We also love the design, which is stylish and compact, while its wood construction and luxurious fabric speaker cloth earn it Brownie points for build quality.
Its sound quality is also enjoyable, offering clean and energetic music playback that’s fine for day-to-day listening, but the compressed sound and lack of clarity in the high-frequencies prevent it from earning top marks.
On the plus side, bass reproduction is impressive, lending songs a tight and rhythmic foundation, plus any sonic shortcomings need to be viewed in the context of the price, which is very reasonable for such an easy to use and well-made speaker dock.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 7