The Pioneer X-CM32BT Micro System is a relatively compact little unit that can be deceiving. If asked to describe where it lands in the crowded arena of audio playback systems, I’d have to say it lies somewhere between massive amplifier/receiver systems and compact all-in-one mobile device docking stations. It reminded me of hi-fi systems of a couple of decades ago, but in a much smaller package.
The system will play many audio formats and media. Radio, CD’s and digital audio files (MP3/WMA) are all supported. Digital audio files can be played via many different methods – we’ll get into that later.
I was under the impression that the unit I was getting was a small speaker system similar to the IK Multimedia iLoud. I was surprised by the size of the box that arrived – it’s roughly 24”x18”x12”.
Opening the box revealed a number of components:
- The X-CM32BT console
- 2 two-way 15w ported speakers
- Remote control
- AAA batteries
- Power cord
- Speaker wire
- AM antenna loop
- FM wire antenna
- Non-skid pads
- i-device stand
Right off the bat, I knew this was not your typical docking station with Bluetooth capabilities.
What is this Activity You’re Asking of Me?
In this day and age where everything coming out now seems to be compact and self-contained, it seemed almost foreign having to wire speakers and antennas to an amplifier unit. The instructions in the included manual seemed to be very clear and the speaker wires were colour coded to the speaker terminals so as to prevent speaker polarity issues.
But There’s More!
Once everything was assembled and plugged in, it was time to take the unit for a spin. The unit powers on with a clear LCD display and the large volume knob illuminates with a white-blue ring surrounding it. The CD tray is below the display and volume knob and there are limited buttons (power, playback shuttle controls, input select and CD eject) on the top of the unit. All of the deeper functions of the unit are found on the included remote control.
You can get audio to the X-CM32BT via seven different methods and being the geek that I am, I had to try them all.
The CD player (1), FM (2) and AM (3) tuners are fairly self explanatory and worked as expected. Placing a CD in and selecting tracks via the number pad on the remote was pretty straight forward.
There are two stereo analog inputs on the unit – a ¼” stereo mini-jack (4) on the front and a pair of RCA line inputs (5) on the back. Either can be selected as an input from the button on the top of the unit or on the remote.
The USB input (6) on the front will accept audio input from a long list of supported devices such as Apple products. According from what I’ve read, it will playback audio from other manufacturers, but control over the playback will need to be done on the external device itself. When an Apple product has been connected to the X-CM32BT, you will be able to control playback of the connected device via the remote control or the shuttle buttons on the top of the unit. Your control is limited to pause, play and skip functions, but when your i-device is docked and charging across the room, that’s a nice convenience!
The USB input will also play files from USB storage devices with MP3 and WMA files to boot!
The final audio playback method that the X-CM32BT supports is Bluetooth (7). I connected my iPhone, iPad and Mac Pro (separately) with no problems at all. The unit broadcasts itself as “X-CM32” and pairing to it is as seamless as selecting it.
I was a bit skeptical that a pair of 15 Watt speakers could deliver a decent sound in a large room, but I was proven wrong. The designers at Pioneer have engineered a couple of ported speakers that deliver some nice punch and depth without being overwhelming.
The bass response from the speakers is decent. The frequency information presented by the 92mm (approximately 3.5”) woofers doesn’t extend down to furniture rattling realms, but gives you a satisfying illusion of punch.
The upper ceiling limit on volume is no where near unbearable. You won’t be able to get the cops called to your house by maxing out the volume on the X-CM32BT, but you could drive a small party nicely with it… and still be able to hear your conversation.
Other Bells and Whistles
The X-CM32BT packs a few extra features to keep things interesting:
- Four equalizer settings (flat, active, dialogue and night)
- P.BASS mode to boost the lower frequencies
- Alarm clock and sleep timer
- BT Standby mode – enabling you to power the unit from your Bluetooth device
- Pioneer Wireless Streaming App – an iOS and Android app that allows you to stream music as well as control deeper functions of the X-CM32BT from your phone or portable device.