Audio and video electronics giant Pioneer has announced four new media player docking stations. Promising to encompass the varying tastes and satisfy the differing requirements of music fans, highlights of the "Works with iPhone" systems include a 2.1 speaker and subwoofer setup, DNLA networking compliance, Bluetooth connectivity and CD to MP3 ripping.

Just why the company has waited quite so long to enter this overcrowded market is a mystery but Pioneer is no doubt hoping that everyone from the demanding music connoisseur to the casual fan will believe its new iPhone, iPod and iPod Touch docking systems are worth the wait.

"For our first entry into the dock category, we took a different approach and created each one with build and sound quality as a priority," said Pioneer's Chris Walker. "The entire line was personally sound tuned or evaluated by our renowned TAD speaker engineer, Andrew Jones, who also created our exclusive, high-end EX line of home speakers."

Sonic satisfaction

As its name may suggest, Pioneer has designed the Audition model (XW-NAS3/K) with the audio aficionado in mind. The company states that the signals fed through to its two inch, 15W 2.1 dynamic digital speakers and 30W down-firing four inch subwoofer is "reminiscent of a large, high quality audio system." It also uses a double isolated frame to "virtually eliminate" cabinet resonance and improve bass response.

Benefiting from digital connectivity to the media player for bit-perfect audio, users can also enjoy wireless streaming from any A2DP profile Bluetooth-enabled source (such as a computer or smartphone) by connecting the optional AS-BT100 stereo Bluetooth adapter. And onward connection to an external monitor or television via component and composite video outputs caters for big screen video viewing.

The Audition models will be available shortly in black or white and will cost US$449.

Split personality

When connection to a single portable device is not enough, the pair of Duo docks help to fill the void, sporting dual top-mounted connectors that provide continuous playback from both sources in the Double Shuffle option, even fading tracks in and out like a personal virtual DJ. Searching for a particular track receives a helping hand from the Hi-Lite scan, which plays the first ten seconds of songs from the potentially vast library on offer.

Digital sound restoration is also possible thanks to included Advanced Sound Retriever AIR technology which restores any parts of digital music files lost during compression or wireless transfer, which should help "create a fuller, more rich and enjoyable listening experience."

As with the Audition dock, connecting the optional Bluetooth adapter offers the freedom to stream music to the player from an undocked device, but the Duo docks also benefit from an auxiliary input to allow input from any device with a 3.5mm jack.

The XW-NAC1-K version will be available in May for US$349 and the XW-NAC3-K (which additionally benefits from DNLA 1.5 compliance for access to internet radio stations, as well as playback from any computer on a home network and offers USB connectivity too) will be available from June for US$449.

The all-in-one solution

The cheapest of the docks on offer, the XW-NAV1K, is aimed at those looking for an all-in-one home theater solution. As well as DVD/CD playback through its 2-channel dynamic digital amplifier, the multi-purpose optical drive can rip CDs to MP3s for transfer to USB storage drive.

The Home Theater Dock's HDMI port facilitates the scaling of DVD output up to 1080p resolution on HD televisions and the inclusion of 2.75-inch passive radiators help listeners enjoy those rumbling sound effects in movies. Also coming with FM radio, it will be available in black or white from June for US$299.

More information is available on the product menu page.

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