We loved this high-end hi-res player when we tested it at £599, marveling at its clarity and insight for the money, and gave it a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2019. Now that you can save a third of that price, it doesn't leave much of a dilemma for those in the market.
Astell & Kern A&norma SR15 hi-res player
£599 £399 at Amazon
A 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award winner, the pedigree of this hi-res portable music player is unquestionable. This £200 saving only makes it an even more incredible prospect.View Deal
The SR15 is a portable music player with dual-DACs, 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm headphone jacks, 64GB built-in storage (expandable via microSD card), and built-in Bluetooth, wi-fi and Tidal.
The A&norma shares many of its predecessor's features (2017 Award winner, the AK70 MKII), but improvements have been made here to evolve A&K’s ‘standard’ music player line.
As well as implementing two more advanced DACs (the Cirrus Logic MasterHIFI class DAC CS43198) in a dual-DAC design for optimum performance from both left and right channels, the A&norma sports an improved interface and support for native DSD playback (to DSD64) in addition to PCM files up to 24-bit/192kHz.
Owners of even higher-resolution files are also catered for. A 32-bit file with a 384kHz or 352kHz sampling rate is simply downsampled to 24-bit/192 kHz or 24-bit/176 kHz respectively for playback, while DSD128 is also playable through conversion to PCM 24-bit/176kHz.
"Fortunately, the A&norma has as much sonic aspiration as design ambition, with a performance which could give the AK70 MKII, let alone smartphones, an inferiority complex," we wrote in our original review.
"While the SR15 has that distinctive A&K sound – shrewdly detailed and dynamic – the comparison between the two players is the audio equivalent of switching from DVD to Blu-ray, with the A&norma being much clearer, crisper and more transparent."
This deal is unlikely to hang around for long, with only a few units left, so there's little to be gained in waiting around.