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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. domho7
    I just bought an M9 couple days ago. Had some issues.
    Went back to shop and listen to SR15. Boss was kind enough to let me do a trade in.
  2. ce3eoa


    My favorite IEMs with the SR15 are the Westone W80, which matches very good with the SR15, better than other DAPs I have, and second is the AKG K3003
  3. buonassi
    How would you guys who own the SR15 describe the sound against an ESS based DAP. For instance Fiio X7ii or Hiby R6? I've heard that the A&Ks have a very 'liquid' sound to them, especially the midrange. I've also heard that the SR15 is a tad less resolving because of this. When I hear this, I think of AK4490 smooth 'velvet' sound. Anyone care to elaborate by contrasting the Cirrus A&K against the Sabre chip? I know that the actual chipset doesn't add tremendous difference and that the analog section, power regs, clocks all play a role. But humor me by helping me understand your opinions. Much respect to by brother head-fiers!
  4. abitdeef
    The cirrus in my experience has always had great detail and good treble extension. At least in their hi fi dacs. Not so keen on their SOC/DACs that they do for apple for instance- they always sound too thin and splashy to me.

    Anyways the specs of the new dacs are pretty much overkill, so of course as you said the output and amp section and low pass filters play a much bigger part than the chips marketing lingo.

    I’ve heard AK chipsets sound like Sabre (M3s) and Sabre chipsets sound warmish (hiby R3). The SR15 is very resolving and very dynamic and timing is immaculate.

    Soundstage and layering are very well done, and note weight is well represented. The mids are back just a bit, which accentuates the bass and treble just a tiny bit. So it’s not as flat/neutral as say the x7ii, but still very detailed and resolving. Definitely not warm like say Fiio X5iii and you could use darker headphones with no problem.

    Also everything is very tight and precise, and the noise floor is very low. It has a lot of detail and control- more than ZX300, but still sounds smoother and weightier in presentation than ZX300 if that makes sense. And lastly treble is well extended and with the excellent timing for attack and decay along with that black background makes the treble excellent with good air.

    So in summary, not neutral but definitely wouldn’t equate it to the typical AK ‘velvet’ sound.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
    buonassi and T.R.A.N.C.E. like this.
  5. T.R.A.N.C.E.
    Cirrus has hit it out of the park with this new dac, the SR15 is detailed, airy, controlled, dynamic. I would not call it smooth other than nothing sticks out further than it should, no annoying treble glare but plenty of detail, heavy note weight without sacrificing speed, nice amount of depth and width without losing intimacy, dynamic yet controlled, clear separation, its really a very well done and cohesive sound signature, a masterful balancing act. I have had players with ESS9018K2M, AK4490EQ, AK4495SEQ, CS4398, WM8740, WM8741, PCM1792, PCM1795 and this CS43198 in the SR15 is my favorite so far, credit to Astell&Kern's R&D of course.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
    mmu16, buonassi and pilgrimbilly like this.
  6. domho7
    Yes I agree with your post. I have no regrets letting the m9 in exchange for SR15.
  7. someyoungguy
    Yeah one of the reasons I’m interested in the SR15 is that I have the Cowon Plenue V. It uses Cirrus Logic’s CS43131 chip, which is a combined DAC+amp chip with the CS43198 and a built-in 1.7 Vrms amp section.

    The detail retrieval on the V blew me away, great sound and impact across the spectrum. It’s almost the perfect sound signature for me personally, but there’s a touch of harshness to the treble. It’s not enough to be a deal-breaker, but I’m keen to see how this DAC chip sounds in the hands of a company like A&K, and where the DAC is used with other amp components and tuning. I think I’ll put in an order this week.
  8. buonassi
    Thanks for those great description guys - sounding more and more like this is for me - provided I can sideload tidal apk and use offline without SRC taking place (which seems to have been confirmed by AK already is the case). Anyone wishing to sell theirs, please PM me.
  9. mmu16
    So I had the chance to listen to the SE100 over a few days. It does sound better than the SR15 but not by much. The SE100 manages the low end far better but higher up the scale its more or less the same. Maybe the sound stage is a little bit more 3 dimensional. I have also listened to the SP1000 and that was leagues better than the SE100. Massively better. So as far as bang for your buck, the considerable jump in price to the SE100 is not really worth it for the minimal increase in SQ. I would rather save up for the SP1000M than the SE100. m2c if anyone is contemplating upgrading to a SE100...
  10. aklwarrior
    I just did the upgrade. I thought a few months ago the same as the upgrade from the SR15 to SE100 wouldn't worth it, but the SE100 has a LOT more 3D soundstage and ultimately higher resolution, especially regarding the high sections. I haven't regretted the upgrade and also wouldn't close out the upgrade to the spk in the future, however I haven't heard it yet.
    I think how the upgrade worth it depends on the headphones and music you listen to as well.
  11. singleended5863
    That was I think before deciding to purchase the SR15. SPKM is the big step up that is worth the money. :wink:
    mmu16 likes this.
  12. mmu16
    The new SP1000M is really enticing. For not much more than a SE100, you get the full fat SP1000 SQ with better form factor. Huge step up in SQ.
  13. aklwarrior
    The difference between SE100 and SPKM is the price of the SR15. Since I am not a patient man I just went for the SE100 as my budget allowed. I will skip the SPKM and will go for the SPK right from the SE100. But It won't happen in a year or two, so who knows what will AK release meanwhile. :)
    I was happy with the SR15 as well but it didn't bring any plus compared to my LG V30 for the same price, meanwhile the SE100 provides a whole different level of SQ with the DT1770.
    mmu16 likes this.
  14. abitdeef
    And I will keep my SR15 and ‘suffer’ through it :wink:

    Head fi = massive absurdity. I quit.
    JTori and aklwarrior like this.
  15. raydenray
    MQA offline available on all androids smartphone! Will AK release an update for the embedded app so we can have offline MQA too ?
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