Astell & Kern SR35 Review

Astell & Kern SR35 Review

Astell & Kern has proved they’re the name to beat when looking at digital audio players. Their flagship output like the SP3000 have been the standard for potable high-end listening without all of the outboard gear and adapters. Howver, these players are in that premium price bracket, and not everyone that wants to enter the world of hifi listening can spend that kind of money. For a while, their most economical option was the SR25, which saw a good lifespan thanks to a few different iterations. Now, A&K are moving on the next step in this series with the SR35. This is their new entry level DAP that will set you back $799. For some, that is still a lot of money, but does the SR35 make a case for being the best investment?

What You Get

  • SR35 Player
  • USB Type C Cable
  • 3 Sets of Screen Protectors
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warrenty Info

Astell & Kern SR35 side


The SR35 has a very particular design, much like its former iteration. A&K always give you the same outstanding construction that exists throughout their catalog. With the SR35, you can expect a hard, ridgid build, with A&K’s patented edge aesthetic. The screen is only around 3 inches, which is not great for a DAP in this range, plus its slanted. However, this is probably one of the slimmest and sleekest DAPs on the market. This is great for people who want to just carry a player around in their pocket. Inputs, outputs, and other sockets don’t take up too much real estate, with two slots for USB type C, and microSD on the bottom of the device. The top of the device gives you 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm headphone outputs.

Astell & Kern SR35 outputs


Inside the SR35 is a quad-core CPU, along with their TERATON ALPHA sound solution and a quad-DAC design that are Ciruss Logic CS43198. It supports native DSD256 up to 32bit/384kHz. It’s a full MQA decoder as well. You can also choose between four different DAC filters:

  • Low Latency Fast: Post echo enhances bass sound
  • Low Latency Slow: Minimal echo reproduces original sound
  • Phase Compensated Fast: Pre and post echoes make powerful sound
  • Phase Compensated Slow: Minimal echo reproduces original sound

In terms of UI, the SR35 is what you’ve come to expect if you’re familiar with A&K players. It’s a more minimal approach compared to other Android-based DAPs, but these are trying to be pure music players rather than multimedia devices. You can still get all of your streaming apps in some form, but the experience won’t be what you’re used to.

Sound Impressions

With any DAP from A&K, you’ll never have to worry about sonic fidelity no matter what price range it’s in. The SR35 will be more or less what you’ve come to expect from the brand, supplying you with pure details and an all-around reference-level representation of your tracks. What makes the difference here is the quad-DAC, which you can switch between dual-DAC. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just keep quad-DAC on at all times though, as it gives you the best performance period.

No matter if you’re using the best open-back headphones or IEMs, the SR35 in quad-DAC mode will offer you specific enhancements that will significantly improve areas of the sound signature. There are some similarities between how the quad-DAC operates and A&K’s crossfeed system that they’ve added to a lot of their higher-end DAPs. However, the quad-DAC still isn’t as stark of a change. Everything here is kept within stereo patterns, but the sound elements feel like they have more room to them. It’s a more spacious performance, with better localization and depth.

A lot of my testing was done with the Kinera Imperial Loki and HiFiMAN Ananda Nano, and these changes were very apparent. Both DAC modes brought out the best sonic characteristics of these items. The Loki already has an exciting bass, but the SR35 in dual-DAC mode really lifted it up to another level. Its low frequencies had even more life breathed into them, all while peeling back more layers of detail. You shouldn’t expect a warm timbre, rather the timbre of the bass becomes more unveiled. The Ananda Nano was similar with its bass but not as lively. This being more of a reference DAP, better clarity and precision was found here. Quad-DAC mode ended up complimenting its qualities better than dual-mode, with better separation and spatial imaging.


Although it’s a big ask for an entry level DAP, the SR35 proves that A&K will always be one of the best when it comes to pure sound quality. They’re also the absolute best when it comes to build quality as well, offering a chassis that feels premium no matter the price point. The UI might not be exactly what other DAPs offer, but if you’re using the SR35 for your CD collection, then that won’t be as big of a factor. There are a few good DAPs you can get for less, but it’ll be hard to obtain the same sonic excellence that A&K is able to master.

Major HiFi Silver Award

The Astell & Kern SR35 is available at Audio46.

Compare the ranking of various headphones, earbuds and in-ear monitors using our tools.

Discuss this, and much more, over on our forum.

MAJORHIFI may receive commissions from retail offers.
Previous articleHiFiMAN Ananda V1, Nano, or Edition XS? Stiff Decision, Close Price Points
Next articleiFi Launches Diablo X Portable DAC/Amp
Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.