Astell & Kern has taken the wraps of an all-new entry-level portable music player. The A&norma SR25 replaces the 2018-launched A&norma SR15, which took home What Hi-Fi?'s coveted 'Product of the Year' Award in the music player category in both 2018 and 2019.
The Korean company's new cheapest player aims to upgrade the entry-level performance of its current line-up through a raft of improvements to both hardware and software.
Firstly, the SR25 supports native DSD256 and 32-bit/384kHz audio, whereas the SR15 downsampled 32-bit files for 24-bit playback and converted DSD128 files to PCM 24-bit/176kHz. It's also the first Astell & Kern player to support Sony's hi-res-transmitting LDAC Bluetooth codec.
A new Performance Mode has been developed, too, designed to automatically optimise the system's memory mode according to the data size of the song being played. Astell & Kern says this method prevents losing sonic quality in the data transmission process during the playback of higher-res files.
The SR25 also boasts a faster Quad-core CPU, paired with the Dual Cirrus Logic CS43198 Master Hi-Fi level DAC onboard the SR15, and utilises newly designed circuitry to improve sound quality. The 3.6in HD screen is "new and improved", while on a more practical note battery life has been ramped up to 21 hours – not only the longest battery life of any A&K player but twice that of the SR15 and previous AK70 MKII.
Aside from these advancements, the SR25 looks to embrace many of its predecessor's charms, including an Android operating system (now in version 9.0) that allows for the installation of music apps via Open APP; support for MQA technology; and an aesthetically similar aluminium chassis (now in 'Moon Silver').
The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 will start shipping in the coming weeks, retailing at £649 ($699, AU$1199).