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Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Portable Music Player Review

The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII presents a formidable combination of robust design, exceptional audio fidelity, and a wide array of features.

Pros:

  • Remarkably expressive sound with expansive clarity.
  • Bright, vivid screen enhances user experience.
  • Impressive 20-hour battery life ensures extended listening sessions.

Cons:

  • Perceived as pricey, despite actual value.
  • An angled screen may not accommodate all viewing preferences.
  • Glass back prone to collecting fingerprint smudges.
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Quick Review: Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII

Quick Review: Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII

In the realm of portable hi-res audio, the Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII stands out for its sonic and visual appeal. It’s a symbol of prestige for audiophiles.

However, some may find its off-kilter screen, lengthy name, sharp edges, unmarked buttons, and seemingly high price off-putting, despite being budget-friendly for the brand.

Regardless of opinions, its features, connectivity, file support, and sound quality are outstanding, surpassing many competitors.

Expect unparalleled audio quality, leaving standard phone or laptop playback sounding dull in comparison. Even compared to its predecessor, the SR25 MKII offers incremental improvements.

It accommodates various digital audio file types and sizes, now supporting balanced headphones alongside the traditional 3.5mm jacks.

With a vibrant touchscreen, extended 20-hour battery life, and impeccable sound reproduction, it’s a compelling choice.

The compact size makes it pocket-friendly, ensuring continuous enjoyment of your favorite tunes.

If your budget allows, the Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII promises a satisfying investment in audio excellence.

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Review Price and Release Date

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Review: Price and Release Date

Release Date: November 2021

Price:

  • $749
  • £699
  • AU$1,099

The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII presents a price tag that may deter some amidst current economic challenges. However, it’s a departure from the brand’s typically high-cost offerings.

In the UK, it retails just below £700. In the US, it requires seven hundred-dollar bills and one fifty. Australian buyers can expect to spend over a grand.

Despite the prevalence of quality music streaming on smartphones, this product still holds appeal beyond audiophile circles.

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Review: Features

The SR25 MKII boasts impressive features that challenge even top-tier MP3 players. Let’s dive in.

Retaining admired aspects from the original SR25, Astell & Kern promises enhanced audio performance with its latest architecture.

Utilizing the trusted Cirrus Logic CS43198 DACs, the SR25 MKII ensures high-quality sound reproduction.

New additions include a 4.4mm headphone jack, Replay Gain function, AK File Drop for wireless file transfers, and BT Sink function for seamless Bluetooth connection.

Additional internal silver-plated shielding protects from electromagnetic interference.

New DAC filters enhance customization options for PCM formats, adding value to the user experience.

The SR25 MKII effortlessly handles various high-resolution audio formats, including DSD256 and 32-bit/384KHz PCM.

For wireless connectivity, LDAC and aptX HD Bluetooth codecs are supported, along with Wi-Fi access for streaming services like Tidal.

The Bluetooth connection remains stable even with compatible earbuds like NuraTrue and Cambridge Audio’s Melomania 1+.

While wired power output is standard, the SR25 MKII delivers solid performance with various headphones.

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Review: Design

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Review: Design

The SR25 MKII sports Astell & Kern’s signature angular design, complemented by a bright touch-screen.

While the slanted screen may seem unconventional, it allows for a larger rotary volume dial, a trademark feature.

Unmarked buttons on the player’s edge offer intuitive control, though they may not suit everyone’s preference.

Despite being slightly thicker than a smartphone, the SR25 MKII remains pocket-friendly and lightweight.

The touch-screen might be challenging for larger fingers, but its responsiveness outweighs the inconvenience.

The new ‘Mercury Dark Silver’ color adds a sleek touch, though the glass back panel is prone to fingerprints.

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII Review: Audio Performance

The SR25 MKII delivers an open, spacious soundstage with rich detail and energetic presentation.

Listening to Radiohead’s “OK Computer” reveals its exceptional ability to separate and celebrate each sonic element without overshadowing the overall track.

Switching to Coheed and Cambria’s “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV,” the SR25 MKII showcases incredible detail and a three-dimensional soundstage.

Deep, snappy bass, vibrant mids, and precise timing enhance the listening experience, keeping it engaging and fun.

While higher-end models may offer more power and detail, the SR25 MKII remains unbeatable in its price range.

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII: Value

Price: $749 / £699

The SR25 MKII offers premium features borrowed from higher-priced models, making it a solid investment.

While cheaper alternatives exist, this player sits in the upper-echelon territory, bridging the gap between affordability and performance.

Astell & Kern positions it as a “true mass premium product,” delivering exceptional audio quality and advanced features without the hefty price tag.

Despite economic challenges, it remains a worthwhile investment for dedicated audiophiles seeking top-notch performance.

Should You Buy the Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII?

Buy it if:

  • You seek premium audio without breaking the bank.
  • Improved sound quality compared to smartphones or tablets is a priority.
  • A Tidal HiFi subscription enhances your listening experience, especially with the celebrated MQA format.
  • Portability is crucial, and you need a player that easily fits into your pocket without bulk.

Don’t buy it if:

  • The price tag of £700 seems excessive for a portable player.
  • You prefer flashy designs; this player opts for a more understated aesthetic.
  • Large fingers may struggle with the 3.6-inch touchscreen size.

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