Samsung DA-E750 dock: aural delight
Samsung’s new dock includes a valve amplifier, dampened feet and the ability to play audio from just about anything. But be prepared to pay for all this. By Craig Wilson.
The audio accessories market is a lucrative one; just ask Bose, B&W, Philips or iHome. Not one to be left out, Samsung Electronics has entered the fray with a range of high-end docks that offer excellent sound quality, minimalist design and superb connectivity options. The flagship of the range, the DA-E750, is a beautiful device. Considering the price, it should be.
Despite its ongoing feud with Apple, Samsung has included both micro USB and proprietary 30-pin Apple connectors to the dock, which emerge from the rear of the device when depressed. Considering the number of iPods in circulation and the fact that the mobile industry doesn’t stand still, this makes the DA-E750 far more future proof than a single connection would.
Samsung has also had the foresight to include support for USB devices using a port on the rear of the dock – although only thumb drives can be read and not external hard drives. The dock can also play music from anything with a 3,5mm headphone jack or Bluetooth connection and supports Samsung’s wireless streaming protocol, AllShare, and Apple’s equivalent, AirPlay.
The dock can also be connected via Bluetooth to a SoundShare-enabled Samsung TV, meaning the dock can act as a (very respectable) substitute for a lounge audio system.
There’s an Ethernet port on the dock’s rear for those who want to wire the device directly into their home network. Thanks to an auxiliary port and the range of additional connectivity options available, consumers will struggle to find a device they can’t connect to the DA-E750 one way or another.
The top-left of the dock is dominated by a translucent panel showing valves beneath. It’s not apparent that these valves do anything to improve the sound, though, and may just be a gimmick. Though the valve amplifier purportedly plays an important role in the excellent output of the DA-E750, we were hard pressed to notice any difference between the audio it produced over other high-end, valve-less ones. Samsung itself makes valve-free, lower priced versions of the device which we found sound as good and which look better.
On the top-right is a four-way controller, which has options for play/pause (which also serves to initiate and turn off the device), volume up/down, and “function”. The last of these toggles through connectivity options, with six backlit icons on the control itself indicating the chosen setting. Strangely, auxiliary input doesn’t have its own icon and is instead accessed with a seventh press of the function key and indicated by, well, nothing at all. A blank display means auxiliary mode – not exactly the most intuitive user interface decision.
As with many of the docks we’ve seen lately, the DA-E750 comes with budget-feeling remote control. Encased in glossy plastic, the remote offers the same functionality as the controller on the top of the device, with the addition of a mute button and the option to turn a “bass booster” on or off.
The remote control is nevertheless useful, offering excellent range and the ability to track backward or forward and play or pause music playback. For example, it’s possible to control a device connected using AirPlay by means of the remote, functionality that inclines us to forgive the corner cutting when it came to its materials.
One of the DA-E750’s unique propositions is the dual support for Samsung’s own Galaxy range of devices and Apple’s phones, tablets and digital music players. The connectors work as they should, but with wireless options being so plentiful it’s a good thing the company includes a rubber protective mat and cover for the docking connectors as they’ll seldom be used.
Although the sound is lacking in the midrange out of the box, some tweaking of the equaliser in iTunes or other music players the EA-750 can be made to produce excellent audio.
Given that the two 20W speakers on the face of the dock aren’t that far apart there’s an impressive degree of separation between channels and overall it produces full, nuanced, beautifully rounded sound.
The dock doesn’t support playback of the Flac, WAV or AAC file formats — preferred by many audiophiles — over a network connection. It’s a peculiar decision. Of course, audiophiles will probably be considering Bang & Olufsen or B&W solutions over Samsung anyway.
Samsung wins many points for the range of connectivity options its dock offers, its minimalist aesthetic and the ease of setup and use. All that’s really missing is a radio tuner and direct access to an equaliser.
From the finish to the weight to the tapered and dampened feet that support the dock’s substantial bulk, it’s evident Samsung intends the EA-750 as a top-end item.
At R6 999, we’d have liked to have seen a more thorough LCD display and a higher-end remote control, but the sound is absolutely top notch and that, after all, is any dock’s real purpose. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media