Astell & Kern A&norma SR25
What Hi-Fi|December 2020
A&K has a long line of excellent entry-level portable music players and they continue to get better and better. Portable music player | ₨54,990

Occasionally, we have a fair idea of what a product is like before it has even entered our test rooms – not because of any particular clairvoyant ability on our part, but due to it being descended from a line of very fine predecessors.

The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 is the latest in what has been a procession of excellent, What Hi-Fi? Award-winning, ‘entry-level’ portable music players, with each new generation invariably proving more talented than the past. The SR25 doesn’t let us down, propelling its lineage forward from the A&norma SR15, which was introduced in 2018, to set a new performance benchmark.

It pushes the price along too, with £649 now the minimum you can pay for a current A&K player. That has now opened up a clear gap for a truly budget player in the line-up, which makes you wonder why the company hasn’t gone after the Apple iPod Touch or budget Sony Walkmans in the music player world. For now, at least, A&K is focused on delivering top-end specification and sound quality for middle-market money, which it does brilliantly.

The A&norma SR25 marks more of an evolution than a revolution of the brand’s entry-level player, but the strides it takes are nevertheless significant.

Whereas the A&norma SR15 downsamples 32-bit files for 24-bit playback and converts DSD128 files to PCM 24-bit/176kHz, the SR25 supports native DSD256 and 32-bit/384kHz audio. This is more or less where file support in digital hardware tops out, and is beyond what most people will actually need.

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