Take the Tube

Apr 12, 2012 No Comments by



Samsung are going back to someone else’s roots by introducing three new valve-based (valves = vacuum tubes in the US) products; a speaker dock, a 5:1 surround sound home theatre speaker system and a 7:1 version of the same.


The Velcro-shoe brigade will tell you that valve-based, analogue audio systems sound better than their digital counterparts.  They certainly sound different.  The idea that valves create a more ‘pure’ sound than a transistor is bollocks – valve amps create more distortion; it just so happens that we humans find that effect pleasing to the ear.  The problem comes when you run a digital signal through a valve amp, effectively adding an element of distortion that otherwise wouldn’t be there.  Even more bizarrely, the valves/tubes in Samsung’s DA-E750 dock only affect the signal at the pre-amp stage – once past that a digital amp gives it the ‘loud’ treatment.  The valves are made in Slovakia and are supposed to last around 6,000 hours.  Replacing them should be expensive fun because you’re not supposed to do it yourself, even though it’s likely no more complicated than changing a light bulb.

Samsung DA-E750

So let’s see if we’ve got this straight: take a digital source (an iPod for example) and distort it via a valve-based pre-amp and then amplify that distorted signal digitally.  TF is struggling to see the point of this, other than as a means of fleecing impressionable audio-snobs (in the US, at least) to the tune of $799. It’s also proving impossible to find out whether the digital power amp inside is Class D, which it should be (smaller, more efficient, less prone to overheating) and whether the unit takes an analogue or digital signal from the audio source and other related questions.  This might sound like hi-fi farty wank but not saying so in the press blurb just leaves us guessing, especially since the identity of Samsung’s PR agency is a closely guarded secret – you certainly won’t find it on Samsung’s website.

But the DA-E750 certainly looks the part and has plenty of connectivity including docking for iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone (as if to suggest Samsung and Apple aren’t constantly at each other’s throats) as well as Apple Airplay, Samsung’s AllShare and Bluetooth wireless options.

One day TF will discover when the DA-E750 will be available in the UK and how much it will cost in proper pounds money.  We may also get to listen to it properly and have our doubts assuaged.  Until then.