Pioneer XW-NAS3 Review

Competing manufacturers could stand to learn a thing or two from Pioneer’s approach to the extremely popular iPod speaker dock.
Competing manufacturers could stand to learn a thing or two from Pioneer’s approach to the extremely popular iPod speaker dock.
Competing manufacturers could stand to learn a thing or two from Pioneer’s approach to the extremely popular iPod speaker dock.

Highs

  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Sleek yet rigid cabinet design
  • Extremely powerful
  • HD-capable component video out

Lows

  • Very heavy bass response
  • No remote control menu navigation

Introduction

As part of Pioneer’s new audition series, the NAS3 represents the company’s no-compromise attitude toward digital music playback. Outfitted with a rigid cabinet, premium finish, powerful amplifiers, proprietary drivers and Bluetooth wireless capability, the NAS3 seems to have what it takes to compete with some of the more esoteric of the high-end iPod speaker docks available today. In this review we put the NAS3 through its paces to see how its performance stacks up next to the competition.

Out of the Box

Straight out of the box we notice the NAS3’s weight to size ratio. While only 8.3 x 16.5 x 5.8 inches, it comes in at a relatively hefty 12 pounds. Our guess is that much of this heft is due to the “double isolated” cabinet – and what an attractive cabinet it is! Our review sample was finished in a glossy piano black finish with gently rounded edges that softens its appearance. The front and sides of the unit are covered in a jet-black grill cloth that is so dark it is difficult to distinguish from the rest of the cabinet. The top of the cabinet is kept extremely clean with only a few recessed buttons for operation and a flip-up lid that hides the docking interface.

Included in the box with the NAS3 dock is a power cable, remote control and user manual. You can pick up the optional Bluetooth adapter chip for an extra $99.

pioneer xw nas3 review

Features and Design

Pioneer did a great job of making the NAS3’s appearance both sleek and unobtrusive. We’ve recently reviewed some docks that looked more like weather balloons than audio equipment and can appreciate the NAS3’s straightforward, yet attractive aesthetics.

Beneath its handsome shell, the NAS3 carries a serious arsenal of technology to support its no-compromise attitude. Armed with two 15W amplifiers, two 2” drivers and a 4” down-firing subwoofer, this dock seems to have what it needs to produce some serious sound. On the rear of the unit we find both composite and HD-capable component video outputs for displaying videos on your favorite monitor, an external audio input (1/8” “mini”) to allow playback of non-iPod devices and a slot for Pioneer’s included Bluetooth chip.

pioneer xw nas3 review

The Bluetooth wireless capability appears to be a major selling point for the NAS3. Not only does it allow iPhone owners to carry their phone around with them while listening to music wirelessly, it also allows non-iPhones, laptop computers or any other Bluetooth enabled audio device to send a music signal to the NAS3 for playback.

We do have a couple of design quibbles to mention: It would be nice to see some iPhone/iPod menu control integrated on the remote control. Perhaps this was left out due to the unit’s wireless audio features, but sometimes you want to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time. For those moments, a little more control from the remote would be handy. Also, we found Pioneer’s claims that the NAS3 included bass and treble controls to be misleading. It turns out that the only tone controls available are those found in the connected iPhone or iPod and it’s a bit of a process to get to them. An on-board, on-the-fly adjustment option would be nice since most folks’ music files can be eclectic and beg for frequent adjustment.

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