in ,

“Yes, you KANN!” say Astell&Kern

  • Under pressure. With USB dongles (AudioQuest DragonFly Red/Black) and Lightning cables (Audeze Cipher) making it easier than ever to get better sound on the go from a smartphone – and without resorting to a separate, dedicated device – the company that played a major role in defining the DAP space, Astell&Kern, are back with yet another, bigger (literally), badder new model.

    Its feature set crowdsourced from customer feedback, Astell&Kern’s KANN brings a lot to the table for a flat US$1K. 

    “Can I have more storage?” asks the customer. Yes, you can: on top of its 64Gb internal memory, the A&K Kann offers both microSD and full-size SD card slots.

    “Can I have better file handling?” Yes, you can: via its single AKM AK4490 DAC chipset – as seen in the AK300, AK320 and AK380 – the Kann offers native DSD handling up to 4xDSD and PCM up to 32bit/384kHz,

    “Can I have longer battery life?” Yes, you can: The internal 6200mAh battery promises up to 14 hours. That’s almost double any other A&K DAP.

    “How about beefier headphone drive?” Yes, you can. The Kann reportedly features the South Korean company’s most powerful headphone amplifier circuit to date.

    “OK – can I still have single-ended and balanced outputs?” Yes, you can. KANN sports 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm balanced socketry.

    “And can I still use it as a standalone DAC?” Yes, you can. Like many A&Ks before it, the KANN will play nicely as a USB DAC. A second set of balanced 2.5mm and single-ended 3.5mm sockets, that (presumably) bypass the headphone amplifier stage, keep the KANN’s hook-up options as wide as possible.

    “Maybe I’m pushing my luck but can I have faster charging and file transfer?” Yes, you can. The KANN is the first A&K model to feature a USB-C connector. A microUSB port shows up for old-schoolers; or boundary-pushers wishing to append the KANN with their own USB DAC. Oh – and yes, KANN does Tidal streaming.

    Similarly, via wifi the Kann also supports Astell&Kern’s AK Connect – it can be used as both DLNA renderer and/or server. This commentator recently bore witness to an AK100 II serving files over the network to the KEF LS50 Wireless.

    Here’s a complete specifications breakdown:

    The KANN’s additional power, battery life, storage slot and connectivity means it isn’t the slimmest fella in town. (Did someone say “Chunk”?) You buy the Kann for what it does, and not necessarily for its looks. Astell&Kern devotees will note another overhaul of the volume pot.

    The KANN will sell for US$999 in both Astro Silver and Eos Blue when it goes on sale in May 2017.

    Before that, this latest Astell&Kern player will make its official debut at CanJam SoCal, running (April 8 – 9th) at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live.

    Further information: Astell&Kern

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. It’s like a budget version . . . but with respectable specs. Did you get to see the interface? Hope the volume control can be locked out.

      Still loving my Sony ZX2 tho . . . 😀

      • I love dig the ZX2 for its Google Play store access and insane battery life.

    2. Technical specification looking good however I have a problem that you cannot replace the battery by your self .We all know that batteries perform well within 2 years ! After that normally one has to replace the battery to keep up the performance As most the new DAP player have no-replaceable batteries (back-cover) you could face a problem. I guess it depend in what country you leaving > were you can get good service by a technician that is able to open the player and change the battery .
      Would appreciate some feedback !
      It is one of the reason I hold on to my old DX 50 I-basso that uses
      Samsung S 3 batteries which are easy to find to replace your old battery . The only other company that I know of that still provides DAP players were you can replace the batteries by your self is Hifiman .

      • No A&K to date has offered replaceable batteries so we shouldn’t expect them to start now.

    3. Thanks for your reply that means you have to send the Player to Korea to replace the battery ?

        • My iriver H140 internal battery have been replaced after 10 years for 50 euros by the local tv seller wirh no complaints ..

    4. Considering the size of that corrugated audio-brick, ‘up to 14 hours’ battery life seems rather poor, ja?
      I do like the look of the volume control though.
      Anyhoo, it’ll take significantly better battery life to encourage me to seek an alternative to my iPod/Phone and DF Red…

    5. Meh, standalone portable DAP’s are a dying breed, sold to those that are dumb enough to buy them. That thing is a atrocity, just a brick with a headphone jack.

    6. Can i throw it through a shop window like a brick and do a smash and grab? Yes you can

    Activating the entry-level: Vanatoo’s Transparent Zero

    Muscular & filigreed – Audeze’s Sine Deluxe on-ear headphones