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[REVIEW] Samsung Dual-Docking Speaker Dock with Vacuum Tube Amp

  1. vantt1
    Jelly Bean Nov 22, 2014

    vantt1 , Nov 22, 2014 :
    My first accessory review!

    This is the Samsung DA-E750 - a dual-docking speaker dock with a vacuum tube pre-amp, killer looks, and a plethora of connectivity options. I got it because it is shiny and has glowing tubes in a dome.

    (I'm using some of Samsung's pictures because they look better than mine :p)
    [​IMG]
    Audio Hardware and SQ

    It comes equipped with two 3 1/2" glass fiber drivers, two 3/4" tweeters (20 W per channel) and a single down-firing 60 W 4" subwoofer (totaling 100 W) to deliver full-bodied sound across the entire audio spectrum. Bass is tight and punchy, mids are well-defined and highs are crystal clear. Using the bundled remote, it is possible to toggle the sound's "temperature" using a "bass" button. With it turned on, it has an overall warm sound signature, putting a little emphasis on the low end, while turning it off allows for a flatter (and more boring) response.

    [​IMG]
    With plastic wrap, you won't even notice that it's 2 years old!

    It doesn't distort at high volumes (your ears will hurt though), and the inverted cone-shaped feet (coupled with its hefty weight) give the speaker a solid stance, so it doesn't vibrate at all during use.

    Vacuum Tubes?

    [​IMG]
    I honestly have no idea what difference the vacuum tubes make. Back in the day before solid-state transistor tech, amps were driven using vacuum tubes that shoots electrons across a gap between two plates in a vacuum or whatever it does. The magnificent thing about them was that they were purely analog devices, making them appropriate for audio applications, because by nature, sound waves are smooth, continuous analog curves. The disadvantages of tubes include high energy consumption, high heat production and they can possibly burn out like a light bulb (I think).

    Today's mainstream amps are all digital, which consume less energy, produce less heat and are more reliable, because they are solid state. They reproduce sound using 1's and 0's (bits), hence bit rates, sample rates and the like. In effect, an analog system would have an infinitely high bit rate and stuff!

    [​IMG]
    Physics 101 LOL
    You can see why tube tech may have the upper hand over solid-state tech when it comes to audio. Apparently, tube amps produced sound that was richer and "rounder" sound compared to digital amps, accompanied by a pleasant colorization that is characteristic of tube amps. This speaker dock probably utilizes a hybrid design, with a digital main amp and a vacuum tube pre-amp, to emulate that roundness and colorization.

    Connectivity

    You can connect to it via a Micro USB dock, Apple 30-pin dock, mini-jack, Bluetooth, WiFi, LAN, and USB so you can pretty much connect it to any consumer electronics device that outputs audio!

    [​IMG]

    What's Up, Dock?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You won't find one, but two connectors on the retractable dock behind the amp; a (Samsung-centric) Micro USB connector, and an Apple 30-pin connector. A few things to note:

    1. It is Samsung-centric, meaning it is oriented so that docked Samsung phones will have the screen facing outward, which is the opposite direction of the OnePlus One's port orientation (I tried to mod it, to no avail)
    2. You can't charge two devices at once because there isn't enough room, and the manual said not to
    3. The Micro USB only charges the phone (no USB audio out), but funnily enough (and not surprisingly), the 30-pin supports charging, audio out and media controls via the remote
    4. The 30-pin does not work with Samsung's 30-pin found on their older tablets (gg, Samsung)
    [​IMG]
    Facepalm​

    Design

    This speaks for itself. With a polished cherry wood finish and a combination of polished and brushed steel accents, this speaker dock (quite literally) screams quality. My only complaint would be that the transparent dome encasing the vacuum tubes is not made of glass, but plastic. What a shame.

    Using it with the One

    As mentioned before, if you want to charge the OnePlus One using the dock, it would have to be docked with the screen facing back. It works, but doesn't seem like a good idea to me so I never use it to charge the phone.

    [​IMG]

    The retractable dock can be used just to hold the phone up when it's connected via Bluetooth, which is fine.

    [​IMG]

    The remote's buttons can do the typical previous track, play/pause and next track functions, and the volume buttons control the speaker's own independent volume level (as opposed to a device connected to the 30-pin, which lets the dock control the device's volume level).

    Price and Availability

    For most OnePlus One owners here who praise its "price to performance ratio", be prepared. When it was first released some time in 2012, this dock went for around $599 MSRP, give or take $50. It seems like it was a one-off product line, because after being sold in stores for a few months, it wasn't available anymore. Samsung didn't push out an updated model with a Lightning dock or anything; it just vanished. You can still find it on some online retailers, but they are far and few between. I found one (used, like new) on Amazon for $649, excluding postage.

    [​IMG]
    I think you can still get the E750's cheaper sibling, the E670, brand new for about $280 (on Amazon). It has a piano black finish, the same glass fiber drivers but lacks the tweeters, subwoofer and vacuum tubes. At the time of purchase, they were displayed side-by-side, and it goes without saying that the E750 blew the E670 out of the water.

    [​IMG]

    Verdict

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    When the availability situation of this dock is even worse than the OnePlus One, why did I even bother writing this review? o_O

    Anyway, this dock looks nice, sounds nice, and well, is nice! The only downside is that it's hard to get, quite expensive and doesn't dock the OnePlus One. Otherwise, it was a great musical companion with my three previous phones; the Samsung Galaxy S2, Note 2 and S4, and largely remains true with the OnePlus One. I'm a pretty hands-on type of person, so I was also looking forward to the dark wood StyleSwap which IMO looks better than the bamboo. Doesn't look like we'll be getting it any time soon now :(

    [​IMG]
    Thanks for reading :D
    I'm not very good at writing reviews, so hopefully it wasn't too boring or anything. If you have any questions or I missed something, let me know!​
     

    #1
  2. minducanada
    Jelly Bean Nov 22, 2014

  3. Deactivated User
    Nov 22, 2014


    #3
    ronoldo and vantt1 like this.
  4. punith
    Ice Cream Sandwich Nov 22, 2014


    #4
  5. ellieee
    Cupcake Nov 22, 2014


    #5
    ronoldo likes this.
  6. smurfff
    Donut Nov 22, 2014


    #6
    ronoldo likes this.
  7. carbine30
    Marshmallow Nov 22, 2014

    carbine30 , Nov 22, 2014 :
    As always excellent detailed reviews:)
     

    #7
    TheCount likes this.
  8. go for.android13
    Jelly Bean Nov 22, 2014

    go for.android13 , Nov 22, 2014 :
    I was planning on making a wood vaner for my oneplus one case to emulate the bamboo styleswap but make with a deep red blood wood
     

    #8
  9. rjainny
    Gingerbread Nov 22, 2014

    rjainny , Nov 22, 2014 :
    That is pretty cool. From what you describe it is just an Amp, not a DAC.
    So if you are playing MP3's using a phones DAC, the input quality is compromised to begin with.
    The OPO has a good DAC and can play FLAC - whcih is fantastic. I hooked it up to by stereo and it sounds very good.
    What would be cool would be to build a tube based DAC and amp and take the straight digital output of a flac file - that would probably sound the absolute best.
    One day maybe i will make one....
     

    #9
    ronoldo likes this.
  10. vantt1
    Jelly Bean Nov 22, 2014

    vantt1 , Nov 22, 2014 :
    I doubt it, the USB connector is probably only internally wired up for charging, but it (and auxiliary) would provide better audio quality than Bluetooth. I personally prefer the added mobility of wireless anyway, so it's not that big of an issue :D
     

    #10
    ronoldo likes this.
  11. vantt1
    Jelly Bean Nov 22, 2014

    vantt1 , Nov 22, 2014 :
    The DAC functionality of most speakers isn't mentioned much, because it just complicates things. Technically, any powered speaker system these days has some form of DAC in them, because they convert a digital source to an analog medium (sound waves through dynamic drivers).
     

    #11
    ronoldo likes this.
  12. ronoldo
    KitKat Nov 22, 2014

    ronoldo , Nov 22, 2014 :
    Thanks... great review...
     

    #12
  13. gusuraman
    Community Veteran Nov 22, 2014


    #13
    vantt1 likes this.
  14. vantt1
    Jelly Bean Dec 3, 2014

    vantt1 , Dec 3, 2014 :
    I just saw this review was indexed in your thread! All hail @gusuraman, King of Reviews!
     

    #14
    gusuraman likes this.
  15. gusuraman
    Community Veteran Dec 3, 2014


    #15
  16. damanhoury
    Donut Dec 3, 2014


    #16
  17. Jael Pendragon
    KitKat Dec 3, 2014

    Jael Pendragon , Dec 3, 2014 :
    Or not. Depending on the input channel used which is often analog (like the headphones out of a phone)
     

    #17
  18. Jael Pendragon
    KitKat Dec 3, 2014


    #18
  19. vantt1
    Jelly Bean Dec 3, 2014

    vantt1 , Dec 3, 2014 :
    By definition, a DAC is a digital-to-analog converter. Due to the digital nature of pretty much all modern electronic amplifiers, they first take an analog signal through an ADC (analog-to-digital converter (this depends if it's an analog or a digital source)), amplify the signal, then pass it through a DAC so it can be played back as sound.

    But by convention, we almost never talk about this aspect of powered speakers or refer to DACs in this way, that's why I said it just complicates things.

    Speakers themselves? Well, they're simply electromagnetic transducers, so they have absolutely no DAC functionality whatsoever (not even a little)!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014

    #19
  20. Jael Pendragon
    KitKat Dec 3, 2014

    Jael Pendragon , Dec 3, 2014 :
    I know, that's the reason for the "" around little ;)

    Basically everything nowadays is a hybrid digital/analog. If you are selecting an analog input for the headphones out your first DAC is the one in your phone which may be sub par. Then you have an ADC for the inner works of the amp (unless you are using a purely analog amp of course) then again DAC for the analog out to the speakers (or more if there's anything else in between) :)
     

    #20