The tilted norm!
PROS: neutral balanced signature with a natural tonality, layered detailed sound, durable build, updated hi-res screen, sideloading of popular streaming apps, MQA support, aptX and LDAC Bluetooth, 21hr playback.
CONS: polarizing opinion about the tilted screen, 2.5mm balanced, case is optional.
The product (both SR25 and SR15) was loaned to me for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
When audiophiles hear the name Astell & Kern, the word “budget” or “entry level” is not the first thing that comes to their mind. But with an exception of two bonus models, KANN (extra power) and SA700 (homage to the classic), the latest line up of A&K portable players is actually partitioned into A&norma (entry level), A&futura (mid-fi level), and A&ultima (summit-fi level). Relative to A&ultima flagships, A&norma is a budget model where the original SR15 design was noticeably scaled down. But, would the same hold true with a new SR25?
While being familiar with SP1000, SP1000M, and SP2000 A&ultima flagships which I have reviewed, their A&norma SR series was never on my radar until A&K asked me if I’m interested to hear their upcoming SR25. I wasn’t familiar with the original SR15 either, but was well aware of its tilted screen which IMHO stood out as being outside of “norma”. Being intrigued by the design and curious about the sound, I agreed to take a listen, and later extended my curiosity to how it compares to SR15. Now, I’m ready to share what I found.
Unboxing and Accessories.
I received SR25 without a packaging box, so there is nothing much to write about the unboxing or accessories. But I have already seen SR25 on-line unboxing, and it looks like a compact basic packaging with a manual, a few sets of screen protectors, and a premium quality charging/data usb-c cable.
No case was included, it’s optional. Makes sense since this is their entry level model which needs to be distinguished from upper level flagships.