Valves in an iPod dock? And one made by Samsung rather than handcrafted by a firm of British audiophiles in a small light industrial unit in deepest Shropshire? Strangely the answer to both questions is yes. And those are not even the two most important features of the new DA-E750. It also has a unique combined Apple/MicroUSB dock, is better connected than Henry Kissinger and must be one of the most beautiful bits of domestic Hi-Fi that I’ve laid eyes on in many a year.
Yank the E750 out of its box - at 8.5Kg it takes some yanking - and you can’t help but be impressed by the quality of the build. The hand-polished red mahogany case is simply stunning. Next you’ll notice the window showing the valves that glow red when powered up, then the rotary controls on the top that are as stylish as they are practical.
There’s no display panel but since you will probably be streaming your music from your phone or tablet that’s no loss and besides a crude LED panel would mess up the the minimal slightly steampunk aesthetic.
Around the back is an articulated dock that has connectors for both iPhone/Pad and Android devices with MicroUSB connectors like Samsung’s Galaxy S III. It’s a clever bit of design and works well with both Apple and Samsung handsets.
Clever though it is I’m not sure how often anyone will actually use the dock because when it comes to wireless connectivity the E750 has all the bases covered with Apple’s AirPlay, Samsung AllShare (its own take on DNLA and found in all Sammy’s Android phones and tablets) and apt-X Bluetooth.
Also at the back is a USB port so you can play music of a dongle - though here the absence of a display is a pain and the only supported formats are MP3, WAV and WMA - a 3.5mm audio-in jack and an ethernet port so even folk without Wi-Fi can take advantage of AirPlay/AllStream.
Inside Samsung has stuffed a unique combination of digital and vacuum tube amp technology which is designed to add warmth to the sound by building up even harmonics. At least that’s what it says on the press release.
You also get two full range drivers each pumping out 20W RMS and a subwoofer built into the bottom of the unit providing another 60W of bass wallop. The speaker cones are crafted from glass fibre with a phase plug in the middle and there is a Bass mode to enhance lower frequencies.
Connecting your device to the E750 requires some care and a good read of the manual - again down to the lack of anything in the way of a display - but once done the audio results make the effort more than worthwhile.
Sound quality is very good. There’s plenty of depth and solidity to the low-end and midrange - so I’m guessing that all the guff about the vacuum tube amp in the press release was true. The sound is also impressively punchy and robust, something that really showed through when I decided to revisit the Robyn catalogue.
There are certainly no issues with volume which the E750 has aplenty or the performance and definition higher up the frequency scale. Some early Joni Mitchell played with the volume wound up all the way up to 11 sounded beautifully translucent and composed.
The snag such as it is is the price. At £600 the E750 is nearly twice the price of the Arcam rDock and £100 more than NAD’s hardly cheap Viso 1.
Now I admit that neither of those devices looks anything like as cool as the Samsung, so if you are happy to rationalize the purchase as £450 for a dock and £150 for a piece of object d’art that will make all your friends go “oooh” when they see it or if you just have to have all those connectivity options it’s highly recommendable. But in terms of sound quality per £ there are better alternatives.
My Dad Rocks Verdict: Absolutely superb to look at and to touch and with sound reproduction to match the E750 is a deeply, deeply desirable box of tricks and the wooden body conceals a superbly broad and up-to-the-minute range ofwireless connection options. The only downside is the price.
My Dad Rocks Rating: 7.5/10
Power: 100W (Subwoofer: 60W, 2 x 20W full-range)
Connectivity: 30-pin dock & MicroUSB, apt-X Bluetooth 3.0, AirPlay, AllShare, USB 2.0, Ethernet
Dimensions: 450 x 148 x 240mm
Review by Brian Keyes