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Pioneer's X-CM56 desktop Bluetooth audio system goes both ways

For less dough than most well-regarded Bluetooth speakers the Pioneer X-CM56 sounds better, and has separate stereo speakers -- with and without wires.

The Pioneer X-CM56 is a handsome three-box audio system, with two speakers and a combo CD player/Bluetooth/stereo amplifier/AM-FM radio. The features set and sound quality belie the X-CM56's modest $200/£180/AU$260 price. Fit and finish are very decent -- there's nothing about its design that screams "budget."

Since the X-CM56 comes with a pair of 5-foot (1.5-meter) speaker cables, the system produces bona-fide stereo separation and fills a room better than most Bluetooth speakers. That's why the X-CM56 sounds more like a decent stereo system than a single Bluetooth speaker, such as the well regarded $349/£229/AU$390 Riva Audio Turbo X. The X-CM56 also sounds clearer and more spacious, bass isn't at all lacking, though it's not terribly deep, but I never thought the sound was too thin. The X-CM56 has bass and treble controls on the remote control.

Pioneer X-CM56 Bluetooth audio system


In any case, the sound balance is pleasantly warm and nicely detailed, so I spent a lot more time listening than I needed to before writing this review. The sound is really that good.

The tastefully finished wood grain speaker cabinets and amplifier will look great in any decor. The speakers' medium-density fiberboard cabinets stand just 7.8 inches (200mm) tall, and they have a 2-inch (50mm) tweeter, and a 3.7-inch (94mm) mid/woofer. The black cloth grilles aren't removable. Impedance is listed at 8 ohms. The cabinets have a small bass port on their rear panels, and a set of spring-clip wire connectors. The CD player/amplifier has a 3.5mm stereo, line-level analog input that you could hook up to a TV or turntable. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack, and speaker output power is rated at 15 watts per channel.

Bluetooth audio sounded fine, but CDs sounded -- not surprisingly -- clearer. The X-CM56's clarity really was its strong suit; listening to all music genres, the consistency of the sound made this little system easy to recommend to my audiophile readers for a small bedroom or office music system.

So if you crave wireless sound, but still want it to sound decent on a budget the Pioneer X-CM56 comes highly recommended.