Astell & Kern SR25 Broken Jack After 2 Months: Review
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jayteeare

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I want to give my review of the AK &norma SR25, but also want to use this as a real time live review on how quickly they respond to my request to have it repaired after purchasing it 60 days ago.

FYI: I’ve been sending them emails, Fb chat on their page, and have tried calling then as well for exactly 1 week. Of course due to the Holidays, I understand they may be off. So I will report here with how fast they get back to me, how much they charge, if they can fix it here in the USA, or if it needs to be shipped out to S. Korea for repairs. I will give them time to respond and will not bash them prematurely. I’d like to think that the most prestigious TOTL maker of these world famous DAP’s will make the process a smooth experience. On to the review:

The $699 price tag was jarring to me (or most people I’d think) but I’m too far down the audiophile rabbit hole to turn back. And everyone here knows what the SR25 looks like; it’s an iPod from another dimension taken over by borg technology and given the aesthetic that only people like H.G. Geiger could conceive of. Every bit as intriguing as the monolith from Space Odessy if you could hold it your hand.

But how’s it play? I must add that my only other “expensive” DAP before this was was the then nearly $300 Fiio M9; and that experience was not the best. I had no idea the software would be so disappointingly lagging, considering they tout the OS Android as being fast and responsive on their sales copy.

Someone here made me aware that if I wanted a player as fast and responsive as an iPhone I’d have to spend twice as much, and like most of us, fell in love with AK SR25 &norma DAP.

Sure to buy the best sdcard on the market, and decided on the Samsung 500GB Evo model. All I can say is wow! Once I entered the card and turned on the device, all 220gb worth of music I had on there immediately loaded.

My playlist scheme was intact, and true it’s advertising, played 32bit, DSD, Flac without a hitch. The screen is beautifully lit and the touch screen super responsive and snappy. I wonder if this is case with all AK GUI, or if this is just due to being a quad core device.

The music sounded amazing, and paired with my trusty Shure 846 items, this was the best I’d experienced music ever.

Im mostly into obscure late 70’s punk, but for my test tracks, usually go with my go to bass track; “Maybe He’ll Know” by Blue Angel (Cyndi Lauper’s first band). This was for real; heard things I’d never heard in 3D and was blown away.

For detail, I will usually go with David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” and the part that is an insane unintelligent mumble of him going mad is almost clear enough to understand! Or at least be on par to understand the true nature of those madman yelps!

Great player! Now as compared to the Fiio M9 in terms of sound, I won’t even lie nor pretend to have the gift of being able to distinguish between sound signatures, or the difference between Cirrus and Wolfson DACs, but I hope to train my ear to get to that level.

Was perfectly happy with the SR25 &norma, though it did feel like I was handling a container of plutonium, being so careful and conscious of where it was at all times and holding it like a baby.

But though I never dropped it, it feels strong and sturdy, and I ended up buying a $39 case for it off amazon which I love.

So, on to the tragedy. I recently bought the Tripowin 16 core MMCX cable 2.5 balanced since I’d only ever used the 3.5 unbalanced. I know there’s debate as to whether it’s just a gimmick and that to most the sound is I distinguishable unless you’re running cables longer than 10ft; but for the novelty of having as a feature, I decided to try it with this new beautiful cable.

This device is advertised for its pocketable size, and I’d assume that’s how most of us carry it on the go. When I sat in my car, the jack in the 2.5 broke, and the 2.5 pin could just dangle about in the hole no longer being secured. It no longer worked and I was bummed out like someone had just died.

Heard horror stories of companies like AK being notorious for not getting back to people or charging them exorberant fee’s for repair, and it possible taking months to get back if I’m lucky.

I did some googling, and to my dismay I saw so many other reviews saying that other AK devices had a infamous flaw with the security of the 2.5mm pin, and was prone to break for many. One audiophile friend from eBay suggested I try and contact AK here in Irvine, CA and to speak to Andrew Wu who I assume handled these matters. He also had issues with the AK player with the 2.5 jack and he claimed they charged him $60. So that was last week on Monday, I uploaded a picture of my order invoice and everything and waiting to hear back.

Im not saying anything negative about AK as I believe they produced a beautiful item, but if the 2.5 jack input hasn’t been engineered to test the stress of having something plugged into it, with so many reviews saying this 2.5 port is not nearly as strong as it should be, you would think they could at least make mention of it and caution those who might get the same result.

If all goes well, and if they repair it, I will endorse AK and rave about their after service here, and who knows may even buy the Alpha KANN as well.
 
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jayteeare

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To be clear, the outer black ring and whatever security the inside of the device has to hold the 2.5 pin steady is what broke, not the 2.5 pin of the Tripowin cable itself. The cable itself still works perfectly fine after testing it on my friends Fiio. It was definitely the stress threshold of that 2.5 opening that gave out.
 
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jayteeare

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Well that’s a great sign. I got an email back from an Astell Kern rep who said they would love to help. I was sent a RMA form which I needed to fill out, and include it with the package, recommended USPS Priority Mail. I went ahead and put everything together in the box and it’s been sent. The AK rep made me aware that once they receive it, it could could take up to 2 weeks. I still don’t know the repair price, or if they will just replace it with a new one, but the form did require I fill out my credit card info.

Shipping Priority with usps box cost me $7.50

I don’t live too far from Irvine where their location is, so I hope they receive it tomorrow or the day after.

While that’s in progress, I’ve been using my iPod Classic 5th Gen modded with 500GB, and have it connected to the Fiio Andes DAC/Amp with my Shure 846; wow, I had forgotten how much fun this combo was!
 
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jayteeare

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I tracked the package, and it arrived at Astell & Kern facilities earlier today, January 4th 2021. Let's see how quickly they respond.
 
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mhowling

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I haven't heard of this issue before but I hope it gets resolved quickly. Looking forward to updates.
 
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jayteeare

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I just got an update from Astell Kern today, and so far they continue to exceed my expectations! :) They informed me that my device arrived and was diagnosed. The 2.5 balanced jack was pushed into the chassis, and be sent for repair to S. Korea. The expected turn around time is 2-3 weeks.

The wait may not be the quickest, but it’s going to be repaired half way around the world so understandable. I asked how much this was going to cost me; they assured me the RMA reason for the 2.5 jack would be repaired at no cost, under manufacturer warranty.

Astell Kern has scored major points with me, I hope to keep you all informed on what happens next.
 
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jayteeare

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New update. My SR25 arrives tentatively tomorrow, and is expected to be repaired and sent back to the USA the week of 2/10/21.

I don’t know much about engineering, but I wonder if maybe making the input audio jacks (the 3.5 and 2.5mm) would be better suited if they had something similar to the volume knob protection. Maybe if that same steel/gun metal were to protrude upward from the jack, almost like a upside down pyramid/cone shape, then it would make it near impossible to break the jack accidentally resulting in the chassis being broken off and pushed into the device like happened to me. The upside down cone shapes wouldnt even have to protrude too high, just enough so that if it’s the pin jack vs the inner part of the decive, at least the earphone pin itself would break and be more replaceable than the device itself. The holes where you insert the pin seem to be rounded off plastic, and say you have the earphones plugged it, if you push that pin sideways while connected, it’ll break in your pocket, but if they were made of steel instead of plastic and actually part of the chassis, man, that would be some awesome strength and preservation.
 
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