Astell & Kern SR25 MKII Review: Elevating the Sonic Experience
Astell & Kern SR25 MKII Review: Elevating the Sonic Experience

Astell & Kern SR25 MKII Review: Elevating the Sonic Experience

Unveiling the Astell & Kern SR25 MKII: A closer look at its specifications, unrivaled sound quality, and alternatives that aim to compete.

In the world of high-fidelity audio, few names resonate as profoundly as Astell & Kern. Known for their relentless pursuit of audio perfection, the South Korean company has once again delivered with the Astell & Kern SR25 MKII. In this comprehensive review, we’ll dissect the SR25 MKII, exploring its precise specifications, dissecting its remarkable sound quality, and even presenting viable alternatives that aspire to rival this audio juggernaut.

Unboxing and Initial Impressions

The journey with the Astell & Kern SR25 MKII commences with an unboxing experience that exudes luxury. The sleek, matte Mercury D. Silver box opens smoothly to reveal the meticulously crafted device inside. Nestled within plush padding, the SR25 MKII immediately conveys a sense of premium quality.

Upon holding it, you’ll appreciate its reassuring weight and the impeccable aluminum construction. The device feels substantial, and the tactile buttons are not only intuitive but also responsive to touch.

Specifications: Where Engineering Meets Art

Body

  • Model: SR25 MKII
  • Body Color: Mercury D. Silver
  • Body Material: Aluminum

Display

  • Screen: 3.6-inch HD TFT LCD
  • Resolution: 720 x 1,280 pixels

Audio

  • Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA
  • Sample Rate:
    • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32 bits per Sample)
    • DSD Native: DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo
  • Output Level: Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)

Performance

  • CPU: Quad-Core
  • DAC: Cirrus Logic CS43198 x2 (Dual DAC)
  • Decoding: Support up to 32-bit / 384kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback

Connectivity

  • Input: USB Type-C (for charging PC & MAC)
  • Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported | 4.4mm, only 5-pole supported)
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
  • Bluetooth: V4.2 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions and Weight

  • Dimensions: 2.5” (63.5 mm) [W] x 4.26” (108.3 mm) [H] x 0.63” (16.1 mm) [D]
  • Weight: About 6.27 oz (about 178 g)

Additional Features

  • Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrades supported (OTA)
  • Operating Temperature: 0℃ ~ + 40℃ (32℉ ~ 104℉)

The Astell & Kern SR25 MKII is a compact marvel, housing dual Cirrus Logic CS43198 DACs that ensure an unparalleled audio experience. With support for an extensive range of audio formats, including high-resolution MQA, it caters to both the casual listener and the discerning audiophile.

Sonic Elegance: The Art of Sound

However, specifications alone do not paint the full picture. What truly matters is how the SR25 MKII translates these specs into sound. In this regard, the SR25 MKII stands as a sonic masterpiece.

Upon powering it up and connecting your preferred headphones, you’ll be greeted by a sonic landscape that’s nothing short of enchanting. The dual DACs work harmoniously to create a soundstage that is rich, detailed, and deeply immersive. High-resolution audio files come alive, revealing nuances and subtleties that you might have missed with lesser devices.

The bass is deep and controlled, providing a satisfying foundation to your music without overpowering the other frequencies. The mids are warm and expressive, rendering vocals and instruments with lifelike clarity. The treble is impeccably balanced, ensuring that it’s neither piercing nor recessed.

Whether you’re diving into a classical symphony, rocking out to your favorite band, or savoring the intricate notes of jazz, this audio player accommodates every genre with grace. It’s akin to having a world-class orchestra at your fingertips, ready to perform on your command.

Sound Customization at Your Fingertips

To further enhance your listening experience, Astell & Kern has provided an array of sound customization options. The Parametric Equalizer empowers you to fine-tune the audio to your exact preferences. Whether you desire a bass boost for EDM tracks or a heightened treble for acoustic melodies, the SR25 MKII puts you in control.

Moreover, the support for MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) guarantees that you can indulge in studio-quality sound, faithfully reproducing the artist’s intended audio fidelity. It’s a feature that will surely captivate the most discerning audiophiles.

User Experience: Navigating the SR25 MKII

The intuitive 3.6-inch HD TFT LCD screen serves as your gateway to the audio paradise that the SR25 MKII offers. It’s not only responsive but also vibrant and user-friendly, ensuring effortless navigation. The user interface is thoughtfully designed, allowing easy access to your music library, settings, and internet browsing.

Connectivity options are abundant. Bluetooth 4.2 ensures a stable connection with your wireless headphones or speakers, while Wi-Fi connectivity opens doors to streaming services and firmware updates. The inclusion of a USB Type-C port facilitates rapid charging and data transfer.

Battery life is commendable, with up to 21 hours of playback in unbalanced mode and 17 hours in balanced mode. This longevity ensures that you can enjoy extended listening sessions without frequent recharging.

Alternatives: Competitors in the Arena

While the Astell & Kern SR25 MKII reigns as a formidable audio player, the world of high-end portable audio is teeming with alternatives eager to stake their claim. Let’s explore a few worthy contenders:

1. Sony NW-ZX507

The Sony NW-ZX507 offers an enticing blend of sonic prowess and elegant design. Equipped with a robust S-Master HX digital amplifier, it ensures pristine audio reproduction. Running on the Android OS, it grants access to an extensive array of streaming apps. With 64GB of internal storage and expandable memory, it’s a versatile choice for audiophiles.

2. FiiO M15

The FiiO M15 is a flagship offering from the renowned audio brand. Featuring dual AKM AK4499EQ DACs, it delivers audiophile-grade sound quality. Its expansive 5.15-inch touchscreen is visually stunning, and it operates on a customized Android OS for seamless app integration. The M15 supports high-res audio formats and offers an impressive 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD.

3. iBasso DX220 Max

The iBasso DX220 Max is a heavyweight contender in the portable audio arena. It houses dual ESS Sabre ES9068AS DACs, providing an immersive audio experience. Running on Android, it offers versatility in streaming and app usage. With a robust build and ample 128GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD, it’s a compelling alternative for audiophiles seeking uncompromising sound quality.

The Final Note

In the realm of portable audio players, the Astell & Kern SR25 MKII emerges as a beacon of audio excellence. Its meticulous craftsmanship, impressive specifications, and unparalleled sound quality make it a compelling addition to any audiophile’s collection. However, the world of high-fidelity audio brims with alternatives, each with its own unique allure and capabilities.

As you embark on your audio journey, consider your priorities, preferences, and budget. Whether you choose the SR25 MKII or one of its formidable challengers, rest assured that you’re in for a musical experience that transcends the ordinary. Happy listening!

Note: Product availability and specifications may vary by region. For the latest information, please consult authorized dealers.

  1. Astell & Kern Official Website:
    • https://www.astellnkern.com/
    • The official website of Astell & Kern provides detailed information about their products, including the SR25 MKII. It’s a reliable source for specifications and updates.
  2. Head-Fi.org:
    • https://www.head-fi.org/
    • Head-Fi is a popular online forum dedicated to audio enthusiasts. It’s a valuable resource for discussions, reviews, and recommendations related to high-end audio equipment, including the SR25 MKII.

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