• User Review: Samsung DA-E670 Wireless Audio With Dock

    Samsung has come up with a unique idea with this audio dock – allowing docking of i{Pod/Pad/Phone}s as well as a limited collection of their own devices. They claim it (and all other docks in the series) to be the first-ever dual dock audio system. If you are considering buying this dock, you will almost certainly have come across the Samsung DA-E750 valve (pre-)amplified system. I spent quite some time deciding between these two systems and came to the decision that based on my usage, the added expense (£300) rendered the 750 a little over-kill. As a consequence I opted for the cheaper DA-E670 instead.

    At the time of writing, the price one might expect to pay for this device is in the region of £170 – £240. Compared with many other devices on the market, its price may exceed what some would consider worth spending. With all that it offers though, it should provide a great deal of flexibility to those with a multitude of devices and formats wishing to stay relatively ‘future-proof’.

    Audio Quality

    The audio quality is very impressive. As speakers go, the ones in this dock are not massive but are perfectly capable of kicking out a decent level of audio and do not distort at high volumes. The dock has a subwoofer built in which provides an excellent level of bass. The bass can be toggled using the remote.

    Comparing the audio to that produced by my old HiFi (which had some pretty standard speakers), I find the Samsung produces a much crisper and clearer sound. This is further noticeable when compared with other audio devices such as my television whose audio sounds positively muffled in comparison to the audio dock (I had never really felt the need to complain about the quality of the TV speakers but am now playing films through the audio dock – see section on Aux In below).

    User Interface

    All supported functions lit up on the control dialThe UI of the audio dock is minimalistic to say the least. There is no display on the device to provide information about what is playing. This does not bother me all that much as the devices connecting to the speakers have big enough screens. If I were to use the USB input, I may feel a screen to be more of a necessity.

    Putting the remote to one side for the moment, the audio dock can be controlled using the four-way control dial on its top. The dial features a play/pause button, a function selection button and a volume up and volume down button. The speakers are turned on by pressing the play/pause button and turned off by holding the same button down for three seconds. There are six symbols which light up in the centre of the control dial to indicate which input source is in use. These symbols are also used to communicate other functions to the user including the dock starting up (each symbol lights up sequentially – twice, going from left-to-right, top-to-bottom), shutting down (the symbols turn off one-by-one going from bottom-right to top-left), as well as volume up and volume down.

    Those of you who are observant might notice that there are seven input methods but only six buttons. The only reason I can see for this is design – there can be no other reason for it. Aux-in does not have a symbol, which means when you are in that mode with no audio going to the dock, one cannot tell just by looking at the dock if it is on or off.

    Pressing the ‘F’ button cycles through each of the seven input sources in turn. They are described in more detail below (See Sound Sources).

    The remote adds five extra buttons to those already on the dock. These are a power button, skip back and forward, mute and a bass toggle button. The remote is pretty small and feels light-weight and of (relative) poor quality. Having said that, its’ rounded back means that it sits comfortably in the hand, and it generally looks good with a brushed-metal style finish on the top.

    Connectivity

    Getting the tablet connected is a bit of a mission. There are some instructions in a little book which I could not follow to get the WiFi connected and instead relied on my own instinct to get it working. It was necessary to get the wired connection working first and to then configure the WiFi once the dock was connected to the network.

    Wired Ethernet Connection:

    The wired connection is simple to set up – or so I thought. I made the fatal error of plugging the Ethernet cable in with the dock already turned on. This not only failed to establish a connection but also caused a factory reset of my router. In fairness, the instruction booklet does say to plug the Ethernet cable in with the device turned off.

    Wireless Connection:

    Once the wired connection was set up, I was able to find out the IP address of the dock on the router and navigate to that IP address using a browser on a laptop. There is a simple web interface presented, hosted on the dock, which allows WiFi connection. Once I had entered the configuration information, the dock restarted and connected to the WLAN with no problems.

    Sound Sources

    The audio dock allows audio input from the following sources:

    • TV (a newer-model Samsung TV is required with up-to-date firmware)
    • Docked devices
    • Bluetooth
    • USB
    • Apple’s AirPlay
    • Samsung’s AllShare
    • Aux in

    A Note on Internet Radio:

    I have seen a number of reviews of this speaker set complaining about the lack of Internet radio. I do think, though, that such reviews have missed the point a little. Because of the fact that this audio dock is designed to have smart phones connected (over Bluetooth or docked), Internet radio can be listened to through smart phones. I have been using the app Radioplayer which is available both on iOS and Android. It works perfectly well.

    TV:

    I don’t have access to a Samsung TV, so have not tested this feature.

    Docked Devices – iOS:

    I don’t own an iOS device so have not yet had the chance to test any iOS device. I hope to be able to do so before long.

    Docked Devices – Samsung Galaxy S3:

    The only officially supported device which I have access to is the Samsung Galaxy S3. In order to make use of the dock, it is necessary to download and install the Samsung audio app, freely available from the Android (Google Play) store (which seems to be available for download on other Android devices). When the phone is docked (with the audio dock turned on) the phone starts to charge, Bluetooth is turned on (if it was off) and a connection between the phone and dock automatically established. This means that the audio from the phone is transmitted via Bluetooth and not through the Micro USB port. The port will also charge other devices while playing music over Bluetooth (tested on other phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace).

    With the S3 docked, I have found the process of choosing the music to play to be a little fiddley. The music app selection button sits right at the bottom of the screen, lower than the level of the top of the dock. I have also found that when selecting an audio input application, the phone jumps back to the Samsung dock app before the music has had the chance to play. This can be quite frustrating.

    Bluetooth:

    Samsung DA-E670 Wireless Audio with DockI have generally not been docking devices when using them to play music as it means the devices remain portable whilst playing music. Connection is very simple. When no devices are connected to the dock, it will be ‘discoverable’ by other devices and will allow a connection without any form of authentication. Once a connection is established, the dock is no longer visible on other devices and does not allow other devices to connect to it.

    Possibly one of the best features of the dock is that it features the apt-x csr standard, which allows for a very high standard in audio playback (for devices which support the standard). As I don’t have another Bluetooth speaker to compare this one to, I can’t provide an accurate comparison.

    The supplied remote can be used to skip tracks during Bluetooth playback.

    USB:

    The USB port allows you to connect a USB stick to the speakers to play audio directly from it. I don’t really see this option as being a solution to any audio problems I have. With no display on the docking station it does not make choosing tracks from the stick particularly easy. Further, when the device is turned off, it does not remember the last track that was being played. Playback will subsequently start from the beginning of the stick again. I can’t really see myself making use of this feature.

    Apple’s AirPlay:

    At the time of writing I have not been able to test the AirPlay feature. I have tried to install some libraries on my Ubuntu machine but they have not picked the dock up when put in AirPlay mode. I have not had the chance to test the MAC over AirPlay yet (the MAC is at the top of the house and the speaker unit at the bottom). As far as I understand it, AirPlay will not divert all audio from the MAC but will instead allow the speakers to be selected from within iTunes. This does not help with being able to play tracks from Spotify or Google Music (for example).

    Samsung’s AllShare:

    I have never in the past made use of AllShare as I don’t have a particularly Samsung-ised home. Now that I have the dock, I have tried to access it through the AllShare Play application on my S3 but to no avail. The speaker unit was picked up on the Galaxy Ace that I have at home though but only allowed the playback of single tracks at a time. I think it is possible to add playlists (which have to be created on the phone) but whole music albums cannot be played as far as I can figure out. I think it far more likely that I will use Bluetooth on the Galaxy Ace when playing music back on that.

    Aux In:

    I have hung on to my old amp from my old HiFi system and have plugged all other multimedia devices (DVD / PS3 / Aux cable) through the amp which I have then plugged into the speaker box. This means that I can route film audio through the audio dock which has a far far higher sound quality than my TV. It means that I can still support a multitude of more ‘traditional’ inputs to the audio dock without having to fiddle about with plugging in and unplugging audio cables.

    Alternative Features

    The Samsung DA-E670 is a feature rich audio dock which should satisfy the needs of most of its users. It would be nice to have had Internet radio built in as well as the other input sources (especially as it is network connected) but as I have mentioned above, using an app on a smart phone allows the audio dock to be turned into an Internet radio.

    Whilst the dock looks great with the speakers on display, it would be nice to have a speaker cover option. As someone with kids, I am in constant fear that a curious finger might find its way to poking the speakers.

    DLNA Compatibility

    If you have devices such as TVs which are DLNA compliant, they should be able to connect to the audio dock and have no problem keeping audio and video in sync. Unfortunately, I don’t have a DLNA-compliant TV (or other multimedia device) so cannot test this.

    DA-E670 is DLNA compatible

    Issues

    I have not come across too many issues with the speaker unit so far. I have found on occasion that playback will stop when playing over Bluetooth but I have not tracked this down to being a fault with the firmware on the speaker unit or on the device connected. I have been using Google’s Music app (streaming from the cloud) to play music through the dock so there is plenty of scope for something to go wrong and stop the playback.

    [Update March 2013]: With recent updates to both firmware and the Google Music app, I have not really had problems with playback.

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18 Responsesso far.

  1. Philippe says:

    As you say, playing from usb stick without screen is a bit cumbersome but the usb plug allow my galaxy tab that cannot be docked to charge while playing

  2. Zizuu says:

    So if I have, let’s say, new Philips TV I won’t be able to connect this divice to it? Crap. I almost bought it. Good that I’ve found your review.

    • Duncan says:

      It’s difficult to say for sure. If the Philips TV can connect via Bluetooth, it may work over Bluetooth, but as with my tests I found the audio was mis-aligned.

      I do however, have my DVD/Blu Ray devices connected into the AUX port on the device and could plug the TV through it in the same way.

      • ANgelo says:

        If your philips tv supports DLNA, it should work fine.
        The E670 Supports airplay and DLNA.

        am i Wrong? I am about to buy this lovely machine as well. I have a panasonic tv that supports dlna. It would be a shame if i have to use the aux in .

        • Duncan says:

          Indeed, you are correct that the E670 is DLNA compliant. Unfortunately I don’t have another DLNA device so am not able to test this (my TV is a little out-dated now). I’ll add a quick comment to the article though.

  3. Bertha says:

    Hi, thank you so much for writing this article. I learned more for you than from reading the user manual. Sometimes I need context to understand technology products and what they can do. So I have this Samsung speaker model and I was successful in connecting an old 8-track deck directly via the aux input. It had awesome sound. I was so excited to be able to pop in the plastic 8-tracks and blast classic tunes through the house. However. After a few days, the sound just quit. I thought the 8-track deck had broke because its old. So I picked up two more decks from a garage sale. Both light up and run, but still no sound. Now I’m wondering if I did something to the aux input. Perhaps old components are somehow not compatible with newer equipment? I don’t know anything about audio electronics, so I was hoping you could shed some light on what might be going on here. I appreciate any advice you have. Thank you!

    • Duncan says:

      Hi,

      There is nothing I can think of that would be causing this problem. I am assuming that other modes work fine (e.g. an audio device connected via Bluetooth). If the other modes are working OK, then it could just be the AUX input which has failed in some way. Have you tried plugging any other devices into the AUX port to see if they are not working either (thus being able to completely rule out the possibility of the 8-tracks not working).

      I don’t know a huge amount about older audio equipment, but I think it highly unlikely that the 8-track player can in any way have damaged the Samsung simply by being plugged into the AUX port. The best advice I can offer is, if other devices plugged through the AUX port are not working, that you seek to get it repaired (assuming it is under warranty).

  4. Joel Collins says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the great review. I’m looking at buying this myself, but I’m really fussy about audio gear and it’s a lot of money for a student. I can’t find any high street stores where I can try it out for myself so do you mind me asking a few questions?

    I’m just wondering, since the dock doesn’t have any dedicated tweeters, how does it perform with high frequencies? Do things like hi-hats and ‘s’ sounds in vocals sound muffled at all?

    I’m just wondering how smooth the sound is. Docks have a tendency to accentuate the mid-range and lose detail in the bass and highs. I assume because this has a whacking great subwoofer, the bass region is fine.

    Also after having this for a few months now, would you still recommend it, or would you suggest looking elsewhere?

    I basically have a maximum of £250 to spend on a bluetooth and AirPlay speaker system. Ideally all-in-one so it’s easier to move than separates, but I don’t need it to be ‘portable’ as such. This seems to be the best option.

    Thanks in advance, sorry for the essay!

    • Duncan says:

      Hi,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m more than happy to answer some questions. I have been surprised how well the speakers have performed. Prior to the dock, I moved from a system of separates with two decent size speakers, which had subwoofers and tweeters and the dock far out-performs them. The main criticism I would have are the fact that the speakers are as close together as they are – it can be difficult to distinguish stereo. Regarding the quality of the audio though – I really have no complaints. Bass is lovely (it’s a shame it’s only an on-off toggle), the mid-range is also very smooth, crisp and distinct, and I would say that the high frequencies are more often let down by the quality of recordings rather than the speakers themselves.

      The question about buying it again… I would definitely do so, and still recommend it as a solution, offering features which are non-standard in similarly-priced docks. It looks great – much better than other docks on the market, and is quite unique too. The only thing that I would say is that it has gone up in price. I think I paid £180 for it and for a while afterwards, it could be bought for £160. Amazon is now selling it for £250 which I think is a little expensive. I really wanted the DA-E750, but didn’t want to spend £600 on it – that one has significantly reduced in price (around £400 now).

      I hope this has helped. Feel free to ask again, should you have any further questions.

      • Joel Collins says:

        Hey thanks for the fast reply.

        Good news about the sound quality. I’ve been royally screwed over by promising but ultimately poor sound before so it’s nice to know that at the very least it’ll be plenty good enough.

        I’m not too bothered about the stereo field. It’ll mostly be used as a corner-of-the-room casual speaker and for parties and such (hoping it goes loud enough, but we’ve been using some 40W speakers in the past and they’re easily enough).

        Yeah that’s weird about the price. They have a cheaper model (the banana shaped version) that’s around £180 and looks to be virtually identical but reviews seem to say the sound is definitely worse.

        I’ve been trying to find somewhere that sells it that cheap but everywhere is consistently coming up at £250. Much as I’d love the E750 (the valve amps just make me smile), I really can’t justify that sort of money on a secondary speaker system. Obviously cheaper would be nice, but the going rate for good sounding speaker systems seems to be £200+ so I might just take a plunge and go for it.

        Thanks again for the reply, you’ve really helped me out. It’s impossible for me to justify £250 on speakers but I might just blag this as an early 21st birthday present/well done for passing the year gift to myself. They look to damn cool not to buy.

  5. Dave says:

    I have just bought one of these docks & am pleased with it overall. I use it with a Samsung Galaxy S MP3 player (like the phone but without a phone in it!). I bought this device as it has a radio built in, but the radio will not operate through the dock. Very strange. Yes, you can use internet radio, but why won’t the built in radio work?? My other comment is on how fiddly it is to fit the Galaxy to the tiny connector on the back of the dock – its small & the tablet remains wobbly, so how durable will it be?

    • Duncan says:

      I am not surprised that the radio will not work through the dock. Devices with built-in radio require an aerial for the signal. On MP3 players and mobile phones offering analogue radio, they require headphones to be plugged in to act as an aerial. This might not be the case for DAB radio, but I am not aware of any phones which offer DAB radio.

      The connector is a little fiddly but I have not had trouble with it and it isn’t really a concern of mine. More often than not, I do not dock my phone and play over Bluetooth (which is what happens when the device is docked) – docking it means that it charges.

  6. Ryan Butterworth says:

    Hey Duncan

    I am having an issue my docking station. I had to get a new router for my home wifi. When it was all sorted my docking station wouldn’t connect. I followed the instructions and didn’t get anywhere.

    I think that u may have the answer based on what u were saying re plugging in the Ethernet cable and having to reset things on the router.

    Some more help on that please?

    I can access my router and/or the dick but I don’t know what to change.

    I also think that the dock has taken over my internet connection! I can access my home network but not the internet anymore.

    Any help u can offer would be Great!

    • Duncan says:

      Hi Ryan,

      There seems to be a lot going on here and it’s difficult to know exactly what may be going on. I don’t imagine that your dock would be the cause of the lack of connection. Regarding my router being reset – it wasn’t something that I had to do in order to get the dock working – it was something that happened when I plugged my already-switched-on dock into the router. The result of doing that were that the router completely reset itself. I’ve no idea why though. It is probably also limited to the router that I have, which is the Virgin superhub.

      Could it be that the new router is creating its own sub-network? If you have two routing devices, both establishing themselves as DHCP servers, you will find that devices plugged into one router will be unable to ‘see’ devices plugged in on the other. It’s like they are on two different networks.

      If you have replaced the whole modem / router setup with a new one, it could be mis-configured for Internet connection. If you can access your router in a web browser via its IP address (usually either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1), you should be able to see some kind of status screen in which the router will indicate whether it has a successful Internet connection or not.

      Beyond that, I am unable to suggest what the problem is. Try leaving the dock off (and unplugged from the ethernet) and establishing the Internet connection. If you can get it working, try turning the dock on to see whether anything happens there.

  7. sheila says:

    When I originally got my Dock I found your article really helpful. Now a year plus later I have problems close on the heels of a replaced router (old BT Home Hub replaced with new one). Everything works just fine when wired but not wireless. I have checked that the dock is set up for the new router on the network configuration screen of the dock and it is. However on the Dock Status screen the entries read
    Connection Status: connected
    Signal Strength: not available
    Wireless Channel: not available
    Firmware Version: s9111.41.0
    Product Version: 3.8.0
    and my router fails to see the wireless dock.

    I’d appreciate any ideas on what’s happening here?

    • Duncan says:

      Apologies for the time it has taken me to respond to your post. I have not seen this issue before and can’t think what it would be that is causing the problem. Since moving away from using Samsung phones & iOS devices, I have relied more and more on either the Bluetooth connectivity or on the Aux port (I currently have a Chromecast audio plugged in).

      Sorry I can’t be of further assistance.

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