Review: Pioneer NAC-3 iPod Dock

By Branko Miletic

Ok, I know what you’re thinking- not another iPod/iPhone dock review- and you’re dead right, this isn’t just another iPod/iPhone dock review – this is a review of what may well be one of the best iPod/iPhone docks on the market today.

Setting up the device was easy – not needing to read the 40-page instruction booklet beforehand bodes well for any electronic gadget and for this test, an iPhone 3GS and an iPod were used. The phone was the music device and the iPod was loaded with video as well as music.

As mentioned, the beauty of this device is that you can set the shuffle function to work not only on one unit, but also between the two players you have connected.

This means that if there are two people in the house whose music taste is chalk and cheese, this is the perfect dock for you. In other words, the NAC-3 allows users to set the music on ‘his’ and ‘hers’ mode which can be especially useful for those ‘romantic moments’. This function is called Shuffle2, which allows tracks from both players to be shuffled and then cleverly mixed into a continuous playback loop.

The tastefully curved shaped NAC-3 also boasts the ability to stream internet radio via a LAN and unlike some docks, this unit has an easy-to-read, large LCD screen. Setting up the Bluetooth connection with my laptop was fairly easy too – taking less than a minute.

On top of the unit is also a USB port for connecting USB mass storage devices to play MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV or FLAC files stored on it. Adding to the system’s versatility is a clock and timer with that all-important wake-up and sleep function.

The quality of the sound output was impressive. In fact, those pesky audio quality issues usually associated with Bluetooth were overcome thanks to Pioneer’s Sound Retriever AIR, which was developed specifically for Bluetooth.

Whatever music genre was played (rap, rock, soul and reggae), the 6.6 cm full-range speakers with 7.7 cm Passive Radiators with full-spectrum audio and bass worked a treat. At the loudest volume setting there was some slight distortion, however not many users would play the NAC-3 at the highest volume anyway. On normal volume settings, the sound was crisp and clear in the default mode, and users can add effects to the music with the sound effects function on the remote control.

Swapping from iPhone to iPod was easy and the remote control did not show any lag time when either switching modes or devices. And those that want to quickly search through the tracks of one or both players simply have to push the Hi-Lite Scan button to get a 10 second preview of all tracks on either one or both docked iPods/iPhones. In addition, the NAC3 model offers internet connectivity via a LAN interface. So when the device is hooked up to a home network with internet access, you can enjoy internet radio or play back music from DLNA compliant home servers or PCs. Conclusion If this is the only iPod dock you buy, you won’t be disappointed.

Considering the unit can play video and music simultaneously, and play internet radio as well as being able to hook up to three other devices via Bluetooth, it may well be the only AV device many people will need.

Other specifications:

  • 1 x Composite Video out
  • 1 x USB 1 x AUX in
  • 1 x Ethernet LCD display + LED clock with wake-up and sleep function
  • Credit-card sized remote included
  • 410 x 153 x 134mm in size
  • 2.9kg

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • The outputted video was of decent quality so watching home videos on the big home screen was a cinch.
  • Has ability to connect via an IP address to home theatre so you can add module to home entertainment kit. Crisp sound

Cons

  • Short power cords.
  • Connecting the iPhone required changing it to Airplane mode
  • Having to physically push the iPod icon on the screen.

RRP
$699

Rating: 4 shack out of 5

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