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Astell & Kern SR15: A&norma Impressions & Reviews

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by pitch_black, Jul 29, 2018.
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  1. Tsukuyomi
    I have equally high standards, i think ive been spoiled by beyerdynamic, RME and Violectric(Lake people). these guys dont play around when it comes to quality for high end equipment. but i've heard A&K are great with build quality. so despite the internals not being as shiney, its good to know they're made well. most people will never open up their DAPs to see whats inside.
  2. abitdeef

    I’ll be surprised if you’re not impressed with SR15’s sound :) it’s a big step up from AK70 sound wise ( never heard ak 70mkii ). Probably the best sounding dap overall I’ve heard- although I don’t use it with really demanding cans.

    And Sony does have beautiful boards, they are very streamlined ( because of their digital amp architecture ) and like you said use high end caps. Sony nwzx300 is another dap that I think sounds great- especially on balanced.

    If I could take the SR15’s size and keep the SE ( which is very good! ) and use Sony’s 4.4 balanced and have Sony’s battery life- oh boy that would be one hell of a dap. :wink:

    Obviously I haven’t heard all the flagships, I’m sure some sound better- but since I don’t use hard to drive cans - well diminishing returns and all that stuff. I await your impressions!
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  3. spark240
    Ive never tried another DAP so I can only comment on the SR15, I definitely don't think the touch screen is great, some controls are very iffy.

    It would be much better if I could have the Deezer App directly on the from screen so you dont have two go through the menu to get to your music, thigh the good news is I have managed to get it to link to my iphone Hotspot, ad also downloaded the Soundcloud and Spotify Apps.

    Note - a case is a must..
    abitdeef likes this.
  4. abitdeef
    Screen response is good for a dap. They just lag behind smartphones, well except maybe R6.

    Agree about the case.
  5. Tsukuyomi
    So... what you're asking for is a Hiby R6 Pro :p hahaha it basically has all that and more. even the price is a bit... much... 800$ USD :frowning2:
    abitdeef likes this.
  6. abitdeef
    Ha ha nope, I’m weird when it comes to daps- that R6 is too big. Even the ZX300 is almost too big for my liking.

    What I’m asking for probably isn’t possible, especially with the big caps Sony uses for their balanced output.

    All that said, I’m using the SE on the SR15 and the battery life is decent. So really no major complaints. I just like the 4.4 because it feels more solid, but unlike the zx300 the SE out in the SR15 is very close to the balanced. In some ways I like it better.
    Tsukuyomi likes this.
  7. spark240
    So whats the favoured SD card here ?
  8. abitdeef
    I have Sansung EVO and San disc Ultra and they both work great. 128 GB EV0 seems like it’s always on sale.
  9. Tsukuyomi
    Im in the market for a new Dap as i didnt like my old fiio anymore due to issues. So i made a choice between the sr15, zx300 or wm1a. And ended up picking the sr15 because it has more power then the sonys and its more compact.
    abitdeef likes this.
  10. abitdeef
    I love the form factor of the SR15, and AK is pretty good on firmware and support. What Fiio are you coming from?
  11. JasonNYC
    @dakchi Just heard that the DS Audio app will be supported in the next firmware update scheduled for next week. I have zero info on the firmware update, what day it will be released or what additional apps will be supported other than DS Audio, but will let everyone know once I get the details.
    Astell&Kern Stay updated on Astell&Kern at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/astellnkern/ https://twitter.com/astell_kern https://instagram.com/astellnkern https://us.astellnkern.com support.inc@iriver.com
  12. dpwolfordMD
    Here's my little update: so after ebay had the 15% off sale on dec 30th or somehwere around there, I snagged a brand new SR15 for $600 shipped (15% off coupon). Arrived a few days later but had no clue how to sideload Tidal to use it for offline listening (like 95% of my use). So found the link that was posted here in this thread and proceeded to try to do it on a windows computer. Like newest version windows I think. Anyways, no luck. So I'm thinking ok what the heck it should be recognizing the android device as promised on the Astell Kern website. Get to thinking that wait a second, I have a chromebook for personal use so since that uses Android why not try it on there. So I get to the coffee shop today pull up the FAQ again and presto, couldn't have been easier on the chromebook to sideload it and then install it on the SR15. On to download speed, I have 3 DAP's sitting in front of me, the fiio M9 or whatever their newest $300 dap is called, a brand new Pioneer XDP300R and now the SR15. I restored 5 offline albums for a comparison test I plan on doing in the next day or 2 but let me tell yall, the download speed on the Astell blows the other 2 away (ok well mostly the Fiio I mean that thing is retardedly slow--it just pauses downloading as soon as the screen goes to auto off). Anyways, very happy so far with the SR15; not that i've listened to it yet but the setup so far has been pretty seamless with good speed for wifi and touch response to screen. Only qualm with it is getting it to turn on is a little tricky sometimes just have to hold the power button a couple times in a row if it's plugged in charging. Probably gonna get rid of the XDP 300 btw bc the output impedance sucks for my campfire iem's (it's like 7 ohms versus the other 2 daps' having like 1 ohm). I mean there's just no low end on my campfires with the pioneer and the fiio blows it out of the water SQwise. ok hope the info helps!
  13. Tsukuyomi
    my first ever "dap" was an old Sony mp3 player from the 90s, i've then upgraded to an old 4th gen ipod, then i got a sony xperia tablet as a new media source, then i used my old sony phone (x performance) and a sony tablet. since then i've upgraded to a FiiO X5 Gen 3... fiio at first was great, but then let me down. firmware, crashes, corrupted files, boring sound, boring look and performance.

    A friend of mine suggest i check out Astell & kern, he bought himself the newer SE100 after owning the AK70mk2 for a long while since it came out, he also had the jr. so he was already into the AK ecosystem.

    he let me borrow his SE100 for a day and... wow.. i know the SR15 isnt on the same level as the SE100, but man, was an awesome DAP.

    since then i was on the hunt and curious as to if i should go back to sony for the ZX300 or WM1A or make the plunge into the AK universe with the more affordable SR15 norma.

    after support from people here, and doing some research and back and forth discussions amongst the threads on headfi. i came to the choice i should absolutely get the SR15 when possible. unfortunately at the moment my local shop doesnt have any in stock last i spoke to them but they should be getting more eventually. i'll call them tomorrow or pass by and ask for more information as JasonNYC said canadian shops should have supplies rolling in already.

    if they have it, grabbing it asap! with a nice red leather case :wink: make it extra bold!
    Afghan Vet likes this.
  14. abitdeef
    I had the Fiio X5iii briefly also, it was just a bit to dark/warm for me. The SR15 is much clearer sounding. I didn’t even know there was s red case.

    Can’t wait to hear your impressions :wink:
    Tsukuyomi likes this.
  15. T.R.A.N.C.E.
    Listening to my brand new SR15. No problem in the detail department, and nicely balanced sound across the frequency range, sound stage is composed and nicely shaped, adequately wide and deep. So far it's only fault is it lacks correct timbre, sounds digital compared to what I'm used to. I will run it in with the hopes of the sound improving for now. This is where some nice elna silmic capacitors would really help the naturalness of the sound. The SR15 does get most things impressively right though.

    Not related to sound, the form factor is nice, UI is efficient and easy to navigate. The screen is sharp, bright but viewing angles aren't good and it also lacks contrast and black depth, I wish AK had kept the OLED screen the original AK70 had, but not so important in a music player after all. The build is very solid and looks great, the bottom right corner is sharp and digs into my right hand though.

    One last thing, these DAC chips have 5 switchable digital filters to change the sound on an intrinsic level, but AK doesn't give us the option to change them, while many other portable audio players do, which is just a massive shame on AK's part, no good reason for limiting us.

    PS: As I continue to listen I can hear the sound improving slowly, the layering and texture is emerging impressively, timbre also getting better but still needs a ways to go, but I've decided to keep this guy based on where it's headed. Ordered a Dignis Italian Nubuck Leather case for it.
    PPS: It is summer here and the SR15 is getting what feels like dangerously hot, but I've heard this will subside after break in.
    PPPS: Has anyone noticed a change in sound after firmware updating?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
    abitdeef likes this.
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