I tested this awesome hi-res player and now the music on my iPhone just sounds beige

I’ll go straight to it: I just tested Astell & Kern’s A&norma SR25 MKII Hi-Res Digital Audio Player (or DAP, as audiophiles tend to call them) and it delivered a cool sonic masterclass to my iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S21 and older iPhone 7s (audio reviewers often have two or three phones on the go and that’s definitely not weird).

To say that the A&norma SR25 MKII is a good MP3 player is like saying that Karim Benzema is good at hitting balls or Patrick Mahomes is good at throwing them.

And it’s not even the sublime audio quality that makes me sigh what makes me love it so much – although we’ll get to that later.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a place in my bag that can only be filled by my trusty vintage iPod Classic. Its ease of use, its abundance of storage and, I’ll be honest, the wealth of albums from a restless youth – My Chemical Romance, Pennywise, Anti-Flag, I keep you close to my heart; I keep you here – make it irreplaceable.

But months invariably turn into years and in truth, the sands of time engulfed the humble iPod years ago – even Apple’s last surviving player, the iPod Touch (7th Generation), has now taken its toll. wings.

So welcome to the A&K A&norma SR25 MKII. I definitely want you to know this although I realize that at $749 / £699 / AU$1,099 many will ignore it – and I understand that. Smartphones are the non-negotiable essential to keep us connected to the whole world and easily, they also serve as walkmans. So covered base, right?

Not for me. Not when I know portable music can sound like this, then much better.

Opinion: A&K’s reader will rekindle your love of listening

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII with Radiohead playing, on white background

Listen to Radiohead’s OK Computer and tell me this A&K player isn’t the best in class (Image credit: TechRadar)

Consider that a new iPhone 13 will set you back around $799 / £779 / AU$1,349 for the 128GB model. Yes, that cost is often split into monthly installments as part of your network provider contract (and let’s not forget not initiatives such as Apple Pay Later) but it is proof that such a fee is acceptable even in the current financial crisis – and is currently being paid for by most of us, with interest.

Now this A&K player. If the company’s May issue, Kann Max, proves why the iPod had to die, the A&norma SR25 MKII I just spent the week with proves you don’t need to shell out $1,300/1,199 £ / AU$1,899 for a worthy replacement. In fact, all you have to do is cough half this to get much of the same technology, still in a beautiful Astell & Kern jacket and most importantly, with Astell & Kern sound magic built in.

Gone are the days when you had to plug your picky drive into your PC and wait for hours while the DSDs also load; this small player has AK File Drop (first introduced in the more expensive A&futura SE180 player) to facilitate wireless file transfers, as well as Wi-Fi to access platforms such as streaming and downloads from Tidal, all without eating into your phone’s data allowance.

But what will change the most for you, if you buy one, is that you will devote more time to music. You will enjoy it. And while that has a lot to do with sound quality, it arguably has more to do with the lack of distractions while listening.

Ask yourself this: do you really like the music on your phone? Do you play an album from beginning to end, noting any concepts or musical passages that might resonate between tracks? Or are you trying to stream a track on Apple Music then realize your 5G connection is dodgy? Or are you distracted by a WhatsApp thread, or a calendar notification, or an incoming call, or the… that lossless streaming is killing your data allowance?

It won’t happen here. And that’s before we even get into how easy it is to get hi-res music onto the thing for offline listening – and how good that music will sound.

If you love music on the go, at least let those words roll around in your head for a bit. Yes, times are far from easy, but I’d say that’s when we need music more than ever – and when it comes to bringing music to your ears, this product is number one, top of the heap. Start spreading the news…

Comments are closed.