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  • EEVblog #169 – Samson StudioDock 4i USB Monitor Speaker Review

    Posted on May 6th, 2011 EEVblog 34 comments

    Dave got the Samson StudioDock 4i USB speakers for editing the blog. What’s inside?

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    • Raff

      Great work as always Dave!. Hope the Blog is making some sheckles for you.

    • http://kj6ead.hackhut.com KJ6EAD

      Would the sound improve if you added some weight to the left channel housing?

      • HammerFET

        Not necessarily, a speakers response changes depending on how much empty space is inside, and as Dave pointed out, those tube ports on the back. The designers would have considered this and filled each one with padding and/or adjusted the tube sizes to get them to sound the same. There’s no point having two different sounding speakers even if one is better in some way.

    • David DLC

      Ha ha ha this time I’m not buying those ! No beating for my KRK Rokit’s 5 !

      • huh

        KRK RP5 (old model) as well here, and they’re of course real studio monitors. These ones should also be cheaper than $129, since at a bit less than $300 you can snatch a pair of KRK.

        This one also to let Dave know that a KRK teardown would be welcome! I don’t have the guts to disassemble my ones:)

      • André S.

        what you miss is, that your KRK Rokit’s 5 have no USB input…

        • huh

          In the professional world audio over USB is considered a drawback, not a feature.

          For serious stuff you go with IEEE1394 (Firewire) as USB higher latency makes it unsuitable for monitoring in music production.
          I’m not saying they’re not good, just that the USB choice – whatever their audio quality is – makes them not optimal for music production or live monitoring where very low latencies are a must.

          Disclaimer: not optimal doesn’t mean shitty. They’re just nothing more than a good pair of PC monitors, IMO a bit overpriced at $129. That was my point.

          • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

            Can you recommend anything that is better value for money then?

            • huh

              It all depends on what value for money means. If even these boxes were the most linear and faithful monitors in the world, the USB input would make them unappealing for some uses, while they could still be excellent for PC music reproduction.
              Moreover, while the active/passive speakers technology doesn’t change much over time, USB peripherals become obsolete very quickly. A few years from now these boxes could be unusable due to driver unavailability or incompatibilties with future operating systems.
              I can’t recommend USB speakers, Among the “analog” ones, judging from the high quality of the bigger models from Tascam I’d give the (smaller & less powerful but $70) VL-M3 a try. The ESI Near04 look interesting too. KRKs are more expensive, but they’re the best bang for the buck in the semi pro world. And stay away from Behringer.

    • Raff

      I reckon the addition of one of these ‘King Cobra’ power cords would make them sound like angels singing..
      http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/125/24044

      A mere snip at $3500.00…

      • http://www.elvtechnology.com.au Shaun Clarke

        I’m sure Dave would totally jump at the purchase! But what a shame they don’t make any with Australian 3-pin plugs.

        And I’m sure fitting off your own 3-pin would totally ruin the added acoustic properties, you know, unless it’s gold plated… *rolls eyes*

        Do people actually BUY these kinds of leads?

        How on earth could using ‘nicer’ cable for the last meter of the cable run help, when it’s run hundreds of km’s from the power station and through substations, transformers, cable joins etc…

        • http://thexmoschallenge.wordpress.com/ Berni

          Well these cables will make your sound system sound better, just don’t expect any of your friends to hear the difference.

          Thing is that sounding better is just a objective observation so if you spent that much on a cable your brain will make you think it sounds better and well thats the same as actually sounding better. So you could say these cables work, you just need to be stupid enough to belove in them. Cables are pretty much the holy grail of audiophile snake oil.

    • FreeThinker

      Just spent 10 mins googleing SAMSUNG StudioDock 4i USB Monitor Speaker.Dho!

    • ac

      I thought I needed active monitors couple years back and got some test winners off ebay as and deal a lot with audio (I’m more audio guy than electronics) but

      1) they take quite bit of desk space
      2) the linearity is easily colored due to room response and fixing this may be either costly/difficult/take more room (in previous apartment I had speakers in room with a wall lined up with large clothes closets, large book shelfs on other side – I had dry studio acoustics not even knowing it – got spoiled!)
      3) if the room(s) tend to echo this can also amplify even low volume levels such that they become annoying in adjacent rooms with eg. someone watching tv leading to volume competition
      4) some other stuff I forgot

      Anyway my monitors are gathering dust and I have three headphones. One high end open ones for music, one closed “monitor” phones for checking eq etc and my primary phones are cheap quick/easy to take on and off with one hand ones. These cheap ones are very different in sound so I use parametric EQ on them.

    • http://dp-engineering.net Dave-o

      Dave, the other reason the connectors are glued as much as they are is to seal them from air leaks, which have a nasty habit of making pops, squeaks, cracks and whistles when the woofer gets going, even with a small driver in a vented box like that particular speaker has.

    • HammerFET

      Dave, I notice you had one of those 3D mice in the background. I’m looking to get one for use with solidworks and altium. Could you do a review on it or maybe a tear down?

      [=

    • Craig

      idk, those look OK I guess. As David DLC said, they’re no KRK Rokit RP5G2′s. But they’re also not as expensive.

      The ipod connector and lack of TRS/XLR inputs makes this definitely a consumery apple hipster product it seems.

      But hey, if they work for what ya need ‘em for then that’s all that matters.

      White and Nerdy FTW.

    • Henrik

      One thing I miss is the size of the main transform in the loudspeaker, with 2×25 watt RMS it must be, at least, 100 VA. Is it that large?

    • Phil Reynolds

      I must admit, USB audio kit has some interesting advantages. For a start, it functions as a sound card on its own. I no longer have any systems without sound but if I did, I might consider these as a flexible way of adding it.

      If I am ever in the market for USB speakers I will try to find these.

    • http://grapsus.net/ Grapsus

      Hi Dave !

      Very cool review. A year ago I had to open my Logitech Z-5500 (500W 5.1 system) because it was randomly turning off and one channel just stopped working. The construction was awfull : not a single connector inside, the 25 wire cable from the control unit was just soldered point-to-point to the main board in the subwoofer and it was such a pain to take apart ! The power problem was due to a 5V regulator going in “thermal shutdown”, so I just stuck a piece of aluminium on it and it solved the problem (it makes you wonder if the guys who designed it did any calculation at all !) and the channel problem was a dead op amp. Anyway, it was very cool to see the guts of your unit and compare.

      Keep up the good work !

    • Peter

      Dave,

      Greeting from Canada.

      Would not the glue you noted be used as a sealant for the enclosure?

      BTW, what tools are you using for the editing?

      Regards,
      -Peter

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Yes, it’s sealant too, forgot to mention that.

    • Comox

      Weird Al “White and Nerdy”: Nice one Dave!

    • shodan456

      Got a good chuckle out of hearing Weird Al. :)

      What about Youtube’s crazy copyright process? How’d you get around that?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        I simply didn’t give a shit in this case :->
        Actually, I’d consider it fair use as part of an audio product review.

    • http://e-motion.lt circuit

      Less reviews, more lessons. Please.

    • http://iphone-skal.biz Jens

      I really like this, want to read more about this. :-)

    • the red one

      Great video. Hey David L. Jones can you make a detailed video on poles and zeros of the network function and implement it on designing some filter technology. Thanks..

    • Th3_uN1Qu3

      TRec capacitors. Lovely. They coulda at least use Teapo or something. Looks like they planned them to go bust long before they become obsolete due to driver issues or anything like that.

    • Tzaphkiel

      Hi Dave,

      I was pretty much interrested (and unfortunatly am still) by the content of this review as it seemed to “advertise” good design choices for this type of product price range…

      It seems however that the product is discontinued: http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1946

      It’s really a pity…

      Regards

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Ah, bummer. Must have just happened? Last I looked it didn’t say that on the product page. It is a several year old design though, so not surprising. The StudioGT ones look pretty groovy.

    • fred

      Quite right, dave said he liked it umpteen times