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