One of Samsung’s main aims when it came to designing its latest range of speaker docks was to give them all an identity. And the Samsung DA-E750 certainly has that. It’s a smartphone-charging, music-streaming, speaker dock-cum-soundbar – with valves. Or tubes, if you're reading this on the other side of the Atlantic.
The pop-out compartment on the back of the unit (below) reveals two separate docks. The first is the usual 30-pin connector for your iPhones, iPods and iPads, while the other is a micro-USB, expressly designed for use with Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note mobile phones so that they can sit upright while charging.
However, rival Android phones such as HTCs have their USB socket positioned along the side, so you end up docking them horizontally, and with their back facing you (see below).
It’s not the most attractive solution, but it doesn’t impact music streaming as you can’t feed music through the dock’s micro-USB socket. This has to be done via the normal USB socket on the rear of the unit or wirelessly over Bluetooth.
The Samsung also supports the aptX Bluetooth standard, so suitably equipped mobile phones and computers can stream music this way.
Owners of Android phones can either settle for their built-in music player, or download the Samsung Wireless Audio Dock app from Google’s Play Store. It can search your device for music and will stream a wide selection of file formats.
Apple owners are more likely to take advantage of the speaker’s AirPlay functionality, although the Samsung will need to be connected to your home network first.
Samsung DA-E750: AirPlay vs Bluetooth
In terms of sound quality, AirPlay sounds superior to vanilla Bluetooth: more composed, refined and detailed.
Make the switch to aptX Bluetooth and, in our opinion, sound quality goes up another notch, adding body, weight, finesse and dynamics to streamed music. Wired streaming brings the very best sound quality, but you’re more likely to want to enjoy the Samsung’s wireless functionality.
And the features don’t stop there. If you own one of this year’s 6-, 7- or 8-series Samsung smart TVs and your software is up to date, you can use the SoundShare feature to beam sound from your TV to the speaker wirelessly with no lip-sync errors.
Samsung DA-E750: Sound quality
Generally speaking, the DA-E750 is an entertaining listen. High frequencies sound rich and smooth, not bright or brash. Spin Ellie Goudling’s cover of Elton John’s Your Song and the system positions her gentle vocal in a spacious and open soundstage.
Switch to some hip-hop courtesy of Kanye West and the unit’s subwoofer injects a fair amount of weight, yet doesn’t sound too woolly or overbearing.
The speaker’s warm, rich character is apparent with all genres of music, but while this may suit some recordings it can hinder the delivery of others – some tracks don’t sound as expressive or as natural as they should. This lack of flexibility won’t give the class leaders any sleepless nights.
Samsung DA-E750: Valve amplification
Samsung has embraced traditional valve amp technology (above), with twin valves glowing like moody beacons from the top of the red mahogany cabinet (a black version is also available).
In fact the valves – chosen, Samsung says, to 'offer a warmer, more natural sound compared to conventional audio systems utilising transistors' – are used in the preamplifier stage of the DA-E750: downstream of them the unit uses digital amplification to drive the twin woven glassfibre drivers and a subwoofer, giving a total output power claimed as 100W.
This is a solid unit, with the general fit and finish justifying the asking price, but it's a shame there’s no display on the front of the device, especially if you’re not quite sure which input has been selected.
The credit-card-sized remote does the basics, but there’s only one function button so you must cycle through all the various icons – and you can’t see them unless you’re peering at the top of the unit.
Samsung DA-E750: Verdict
You have to admire Samsung’s ambition with the DA-E750. The looks are a major talking point, while its arsenal of features and functionality put some rivals firmly in the shade.
With a couple of tweaks here and there this could be among the best in class – it’s very good, but the best are even better.