Whole-of-home system has never been easier
The Pioneer A1 speaker provides powerful music that's nicely defined and clear.
Tony Trent, who handles home audio equipment for Pioneer Electronics, says there are two product categories in audio that are sales stars right now; audio systems to support flat panel screens and audio systems to support portable devices like iPads and iPhones.
But he uses the words iPad and iPhone as generic terms. In a company in which everyone else has an iPhone, Trent runs an HTC android and delights in showing that his products will work with it, as well as all the Apple-branded devices.
And now he has what he thinks is a killer product. For $399 you can start your whole-of-home audio system – no cables, no connections. It works with Apple or android and includes Apple's AirPlay, which Tony thinks is about the greatest invention ever, including sliced bread.
The larger A4 has a richer, airier sound.
Additionally there's DLNA to hook it in with compatible equipment and, closer to his heart, HTC Connect. Or you can hook it up through the USB plug.
His product is a single speaker which comes in two sizes, the $399 A1 and the $499 A4, and the idea is a lot like the Sonos system's more expensive Play3 and Play5. But unlike the Sonos you don't need any additional equipment to make it all work, and it can operate independent of a home wireless network.
Just plug one of the Pioneers into a wall outlet, pair it with your portable (which takes seconds) and set the music playing.
The A1 has four drivers inside (a pair of 77 mm mid/basses and a pair of 26 mm tweeters) and provides powerful music that's nicely defined and clear, with a strong bass line to appeal to its target market of younger people who are into party music and dance.
The larger A4 has five drivers (the same mid/basses and tweeters and a 100 mm woofer) and has a richer, airier sound which I, for one, figure is worth the extra hundred bucks.
There's also an A3, which is essentially an A1 with a rechargeable lithium ion battery built in that's also splash proof. It gives four to six hours playing between charges (depending on volume) and offers complete portability. It's $499.
The system gives you the music stored on your phone as well as your stuff on iTunes, and with multiple applications allows different programming, with differing volume levels, in different rooms. It also allows you to tap into subscription services like Rdio and Spotify, and internet radio.
More formally, the products are known as the XWSMA1K, the XWSMA3K and the XWSMA4K. The A1 and A3 measure 320 x 180 x 145 mm (WxHxD) and the A4 is 320 x 210 x 169 mm (WxHxD).
The downside is that the music is mono rather than stereo; with two speakers in the room you get double mono rather than stereo. If that's not an issue whole-of-home audio has never been easier.
Just lately similar offerings have appeared from several other brands.