Samsung DA-E750 Wireless Audio Sound Dock IRL (In Real Life) Review- The e750 (short from now on) was a premium wireless audio dock that could stream over bluetooth APT-X, Apple Airplay, direct Apple 30 pin, and Android MicroUSB and 3.5mm analog. It was one of those products that I would walk by in the store and just gawk at because of how incredibly well designed it was. I just could not get over how nice the vacuum tube amps/cherry wood finish looked. To say that I was attracted to a Samsung was a pretty big statement. Competing in the same price bracket was the Sony SRS-X9 wireless speaker and it had an excellent design as well. After seeing it for years, an opportunity came up that I could not say no to- I had a Best Buy gift card, and the Samsung dock was docked (haha) from its original MSRP around 599-699 CDN to 179 CDN. INSANE! I quickly made the in-store pick up purchase in the one location in the city it was still in stock at and hurried over. It was incredible- the one dock was still showing up on the inventory as available and the Best Buy sales rep was saying that he had people coming by all day trying to get it. So I definitely felt lucky to grab this dock. Turns out I managed to get two other friends to grab this dock as well! After having it for about a year or so, I’ve made my IRL Review below to show whether it was worth the cost and excitement.
Design- The e750 is absolutely incredible IMHO. I was sold once I watch a video on YouTube showing how they make the e750. The cutting and polishing of the wood just made me appreciate the craftmanship that goes into it. Its a beautiful dark cherry wood finish that shows a very fine grain pattern if you look up close. The really nice part is the glass window over the vacuum tubes- just really adds to that specialness. I probably sound like the average dolt audiophile wannabe that gushes over vacuum tubes without actually understanding vacuum tubes…and that would be true. I really don’t. I really did fall in love with these because I like the look of the vacuum tube. In fact, the fact that these light up right away rather than slowly indicates that Samsung knew about this visual aspect appeal and likely installed some LEDs inside to make it happen. The box overall is quite large- its about two times bigger than the Sony X9 speaker because of different philosophies – the Samsung uses a traditional bass port to develop the low end spectrum and so requires the spaces. The Sony uses passive radiators that expand and contract with the low end and require less space. I don’t mind the space differential- its really not that big of a speaker, but it certainly won’t fit in as many places as the X9.
On the back you can see all the connectors- there’s even a LAN port for direct connection to ethernet. Lots of connections available- one of my favorite ones is the physical dock that can retract if you don’t need it- this keeps the look clean. Another thing I really love is that the dock has an extender that slides up to provide support for your phone/DAP so there is not so much strain on the device’s dock connector. I’ve seen lots of reviews of the e750 complaining about the strain and they never ever pull out the support thingy. Shame.
I want to point out that I find the e750 amazingly beautiful and this is such a strong statement for me to say as a Sony fanboy. I remember when Samsung was up and coming (not really up, just present) in the early 2000s. I was not impressed with their product lineup- I felt kind of gross holding their YEPP DAPs like they were some cheap Chinese knockoff product. That was likely due to my HUGE preference for Japanese brands over Korean/Chinese brands. I never felt they were on par with Japanese brands. And now look at where we are. Everything Korean has transformed into a new level that has surpassed many of their Japanese counterparts (arguably all of them- I can’t think of any Japanese brand that is not struggling in the tech sector). Even the car sector has bsuted out with Hyundai and its new luxury line up of Genesis. …..I’m off topic here now. I just want to point out that for me to like a Samsung product is huge. I could not believe that they made a product like the e750. Its the opposite of knockoff design. It stands out in the forefront of single unit speaker designs.
In the front, you can see the two main speakers, and the two tweeters. The bass port is in the back, and the subwoofer is in the bottom of the dock. Its very very heavy and dense. Exactly what you want to feel in a quality speaker- while its not a guarantee, a heavier speaker tends to be correlated with higher quality components. I don’t remember exactly why, and if there is a real science to this hand rule, but it tends to hold true with all the speakers I have used.
Build Quality- I’m gushing here because I really like this speaker unit. Its bang on solid. Its a premium feeling device that nails it quite well. The only thing that I don’t really like is the plasticky control wheel on the top that doesn’t seem to match the rest of the unit that well, and the REALLY plasticky remote control that is the opposite in build quality from the unit itself. It resembles the shape of an iPhone 3G and does fit smoothly in the hand. I just don’t understand why they made such a shoddy feeling remote to pair with a beautiful speaker. Aside from that, my biggest problem with the e750 is how easily the wood finish scratches. Its unfortunate because to maintain the clean shimmer, you absolutely cannot have anything touch it. It takes dust/fingerprints easily and scratches very easily. Don’t accidentally toss your keys on it. That being said, given that this is not a mobile device, its really a non-issue. Its pretty easy to maintain a sedentary device like this. Just a wipe with a dust cloth will keep it clean. Other than that, its amazingly solid. I can’t emphasize enough how dense this unit feels- it feels heavier than it looks and in a very luxurious way. I actually think this takes up the notch over the Sony X9 speaker- the X9 is more plastic/metal/glass, while this one is dense wood. And its not that composite wood stuff. Just great.
Usability- Its fairly easy to operate- you hit the play button and the unit starts up- I do find it annoying how long it takes to start- it cycles through all the possible ports and connections and then ends up going back to the last connection used. I don’t understand how it takes so long to start up. Its not like my Sony BTX500 that is just ready to go after you hit the power. Aside from that, I don’t like how some of the unit’s useability is linked to the remote only, like the bass enhancement. I know they were trying to keep it clean looking and minimize button clutter, but an extra button in the back for that wouldn’t have been difficult. I also wish this had NFC in it. Its quite a bit easier to have NFC so you can just tap to pair- particularly when you have multiple units paired to it. I actually rarely use bluetooth streaming on this- I end up using it as an iPod Touch 3G dock with the 30 pin connector. I’m not sure why this ended up being this way, but I quite like it as a sound dock vs. a wireless streaming speaker. Perhaps its just ease of use. Just hit play and away it goes, vs. make sure its paired each time.
Sound Quality- The big money question- how does it sound? Surprisingly good- I actually prefer its sound to my other higher end (relatively) speaker, the Audioengine A5+ book shelf speakers. I find that the details seem to be just a bit better surprisingly and that’s just enough to edge it off. Of course you won’t have stereo separation like a pair of bookshelf speakers but it is pretty impressive for holding its own against a revered set of speakers. In particular, I enjoy the highs on the e750 vs. the a5+. Just a tad more detail and delicacy in delivery. Vocals are also really wonderful on teh e750. Its a very warm intimate sound- something you want to listen when kicking back in a comfy couch with a great book to read and a hot cup of coffee. I don’t think its something that is technically amazing, its just a great set of speakers for a small room. And that’s probably where the a5+ will beat it out- it won’t be able to get as loud as the a5+ without distortion, particularly with the bass enhancement on. You can hear the subwoofer bottom out at higher volumes with enhancement on. Without it on, its actually quite sufficient IMHO and I have no problem listening to EDM on it. With it on, its a very fun engaging sound and as long as you are within 80% of the total volume, you will be fine. So I guess the overall picture is that its a warm sound that is enjoyable to listen to. You don’t need to worry about your source, with this. Low quality tracks will still play nicely on this- similarly to the MDR-Z7 and MDR-1R headphones. Oh and this also takes the cake over the BTX500 as well. Both support relatively lossless Apt-X bluetooth streaming and the quality is quite good- its just that the e750 has a much more engaging sound overall that doesn’t bottom out as quickly and really just manages to fill the whole room with warmth. And it should- its a much bigger speaker with less concerns over managing battery life and being portable and being much more expensive.
Conclusion- Well the final word- who is it for? Its for people with small rooms to fill sound with, and that don’t have a lot of space for a proper 2.1 setup. Or its for people who don’t want a massive speaker taking space in their room. Its for a nice listen with friends and family, but not necessarily for a giant party. Its for people who appreciate the details in design and build quality that went into this model. Its not for reference/clinical analysis- while I said that I prefer the details in this over the a5+, I think part of that may be me enjoying the music more, and not liking a flatter response on the Audioengines. It may be that I prefer a warmer sound and so that blends better with the mids and highs in my head, vs. having more details in that region. Tricky stuff deciding on sound quality for sure and I don’t think I’m qualified to do that. I’m clearly biased to a particular sound. So do I think its worth it? I certainly do at a particular price- some things might be more gimmicky like the tubes, or the cherry wood finish, but I love these design aspects that just make the overall package that much more exciting. Its the difference between getting a technically superior reference 2.1 set and getting a great sounding set that matches your room. Its definitely the latter. And you pay for that with the original MSRP. Perhaps not too many people liked that and that’s why it was on such a clearance price. How would it hold up in today’s market? I think it still would do fine- I think its not too gadgety looking to look out of date. The original 699 CDN is quite high, and I wouldn’t have paid for that price. I’d say they are closer to being a 300-400 dollar value. Would I buy it again. Probably, as long as it was around 300 -400 dollars. Higher than that I would really have to evaluate what I was getting out of it. While you pay a price for a smaller size and looks, 699 can get you a lot of really great speakers (I could get the Audioengine a5+ and s8 subwoofer for less than 699 for example). So that’s the end point- you are buying this speaker not just for its sound, but for its design and build quality. That’s for you to decide if its worth it for you.
TLDR- Pros- Amazing design, great build quality, great warm sound; Cons- Pricey, subwoofer bottoms out at higher volume with sound enhancement on, wood scratches easily.