Astell & Kern has expanded its range of portable music player models with the A & norma SR25 MK II, the second iteration of the model launched in 2020. The outward appearance has remained essentially unchanged: the aluminum chassis measures 63.5 (W) x 108.3 (H) x 16.1 (D) millimeters and weighs around 178 grams. The distinctive features that characterize the aesthetics are the geometric design on the back and the cut corners, a solution designed to generate the impression that the dimensions appear a little more compact than they actually are.
We find the same type of a 3.6-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. The operating system is derived from Android and offers support for Open App. You can then install APKs to use various services music streams such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, SoundCloud, Qobuz, SiriusXM, Tune-In, myTuner, Bandcamp, and Deezer. A quad-core processor manages all the operations.
The SR25 MK II also inherits the same configuration as the digital-to-analog converter: we find two Cirrus Logic CS43198 DACs in a dual-mono configuration, capable of handling sampling rates up to 384 kHz/32-bit. Supported high resolution audio formats include virtually everything possible: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, and MQA. For files in DSD, there is native support (without conversion to PCM) and the ability to handle DSD64 (2.8 MHz), DSD128 (5.6 MHz), and DSD256 (11.2 MHz). However, for the MQAs, we would like to point out the possibility of decoding the songs at the highest quality.
The new features introduced with the MK II digital music player version are the ReplayGain, BT Sink, and AK File Drop functions. ReplayGain automatically adjusts the volume in the passage between a song and another to keep it constant; it can be enabled with files up to 192 kHz/24-bit. BT Sink allows the player to act as a Bluetooth DAC: the connected sources, such as a smartphone, can therefore be listened to in better quality. On the other hand, AK File Drop enables the wireless transfer of songs from a PC, smartphone, or FTP connected to the same local network.
The allocation of SR25 MK II then includes 64 GB of NAND memory which is flanked by a MicroSD slot that supports cards up to 1 TB. Wireless options include 802.11n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 with A2DP, AVRCP, aptX HD, and LDAC. The ports present are a USB-C for charging and connection to external sources (MK II can operate as a DAC for PC and Mac), and the headphone outputs are unbalanced on a 3.5 mm jack and balanced on a 4-pole 2-pole connector, 5mm or 4.4mm; the latter is another of the innovations introduced with the new model.
The battery has not changed: it still has a capacity of 3,150 mAh, recharges in about 2.5 hours (at 5 V, 2 A), and offers an autonomy of up to about 20 hours in playback (Standard: FLAC, 16-bit, 44.1 kHz, unbalanced headphone output, volume at 50, equalizer off, LCD screen off).
A & norma SR25 MK II price and availability
Astell & Kern A & norma SR25 MK II is now available to pre-order via Bhphotovideo.com, and the release date is scheduled for November of this year.
Along with this portable music player, the Korean brand has also introduced its latest pair of in-ear monitors – Astell & Kern AK ZERO1. It features a CNC-cut metal housing, silver-coated copper OFC cable, MMCX connector, aluminum 3.5mm jack to ensure line signal quality, and is priced at $699.