Astell & Kern KANN - most unusual family
The company Astell & Kern is widely known not only for audiophiles - many people know it as the only manufacturer of expensive players. Despite the fact that the brand is really a premium, sometimes Astell & Kern still produces more than the available audio players. Our today's hero can not be called cheap, but it is more interesting to have received a completely new design, he was given a name instead of a traditional numeric index, and is the most powerful player in the market. Meet the Astell & Kern KANN.
Due to the emergence of a large number of in Astell & Kern devices from China decided to act boldly - to try to combine the new sound handwriting, a huge set of features, interesting design and a firm shell. Manufacturer completely moved away from the traditional vision of design and released, perhaps one of the most interesting music players that have been released recently. Let's see what came of it.
- DAC AKM AK4490
- Output level: 4 Vrms normal output balanced 7 Vrms
- Output impedance: 5Ω balanced output, 1.9Ω normal
- frequency range (regular yield): 20 Hz - 20 KHz (± 0 067 dB) 20 Hz - 70 KHz (± 0, 75 dB)
- frequency range (balanced output): 20 Hz - 20 KHz (± 0 067 dB) 20 Hz - 70 KHz (± 0, 75dB)
- S / N ratio: 116dB normal output 117 dB balanced
- Total harmonic distortion + noise: 0, 0004% normal output, 0, 0008% balanced
- Supported file formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE (Normal, High, Fast), AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
- Maximum resolution: 384 kHz / 32 bit, DSD to DSD256
- Screen: 4 ", 480 * 800
- WiFi: 802.11 b / g / n
- Bluetooth: V4.0 with support for HD APTX
- Login USB 3.0 Type-C
- Output: 3, 5 mm / 4-pole balanced-2, 5 mm; microUSB / PCM: 32 to 384 kHz bit / DSD: 2, 8 MHz, 5, 6 MHz
- Battery 6200 mA / h
- operation from a single charge: 15 hours
- Charging time (with the Quick Charge): ~ 2 hours
- Built-in memory: 64 GB
- Memory Cards: a MicroSD
- Size: 71 2 * 115 mm, 8 * 25 mm, 6 mm
- weight: 278 g
Packaging and delivery
Player Comes in a box of black cardboard, which is pleasant to the touch gray cover. The design decisions with the Astell & Kern, few can match - even to the packaging approach is serious.
Inside, apart from KANN, put a thick USB-C cable to charge the player and connect to a computer, pair of protective films for the display, as well as branded caps for connectors, so as not to accumulate dust in them. Cover this time is not included, but with this design you are unlikely to come to hide the unit behind a layer of fabric or leather.
Design and Ergonomics
Appearance players Astell & Kern was formerly very recognizable: each device resembled an ingot with sharp irregular edges, causing the interest in them is only growing. With KANN manufacturer decided to experiment (especially to the body shape of some earlier were still issues) and released the player a completely different form. Now it is much better in the hand, it does not slip and feels massive. KANN weight and size due to the high capacity of the battery required to provide decent runtime. One-piece housing made of aluminum.
Wheel volume control the volume as well as the power button, located in a fairly accessible and logical places (on the right side and from above, respectively). the playback control buttons are located on the opposite part of the body, just below the display. It is convenient because you can control playback without having to take the player out of his pocket. Hardware buttons under the screen offer the player a huge advantage over the touchscreen phones in ergonomics.
In the top panel the most interesting: headphone 3, 5 mm, 2 balanced 5 mm. Line Outputs have a player taken out separately, not combined with headphones-output. Everyone will be able to find a way by which to listen to your favorite tracks.
At the bottom there is access to USB-Audio (up to 32 bit 384kHz / DSD: 2, 8 MHz, 5, 6 MHz) port for charging, and a full two memory card slots - one for the microSD, the second - a conventional SD. Memory cards can work simultaneously (up to 256 GB of microSD, up to 512 GB - SD), so that the output have 832 GB of storage. For tracks in lossless enough for the eyes. If you have a fixed DAC and headphone amp, you can easily use the player as a file library or streaming device.
player shell is arranged logically, with smooth and stable operation is no problem. The main menu consists of several items: "Compositions", "Albums" and "Artists", and swipe from the bottom opening of four additional "Genres", "Playlist", "Folder" and "Save". This opens the list of network resources, and "Folder" gives access to simple file manager.
File Manager is made convenient. Top has a context menu button, which allows you to delete files and folders, copy them, create a new folder, and add tracks to the playlist. There are navigation by tag, which works perfectly: You can sort the composition by bitrate - for example, only select files or 24/192 DSD128.
In the playback screen all minimalistic, and swipe from the top opens the familiar "blind" with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a key lock when the display is off, switching the connection mode to the computer (DAC / drive), EQ, and other menu items. There is a multi-band equalizer with a very fine pitch.
One of the features KANN - support for USB digital output signal to an external DAC. Since the player is equipped with two ports, it can be charged while working as a transport. Through the use of an asynchronous mode, possible to achieve ultra-low jitter, unless, of course, connected DAC also "understands" this protocol. The output signal is carried out with high precision bit-by-bit, without intermediate conversion. DSD provides for the ability to output in the DoP.
signal integrity is not inferior to that of the SPDIF / Toslink, so Astell & Kern KANN with USB support is able to provide sound quality that is difficult to distinguish from "Optics". There are also Bluetooth support, but I would advise not to use this feature. Yet this level of player is best to listen with good quality cable and headphones.
Third-party software still can not be installed, but a strong need for this - its own shell works very well.
Starting a conversation about the sound, not to mention a very powerful amplifier - no wonder KANN considered the most powerful audio player at the moment. The amplifier can work well even on non-standard load of 8-12 ohms. Upper limits depend on the sensitivity of headphones. signal swing is twice higher than that of SP1000 amplifier that is impressive.
As with all leaders of Astell & Kern, KANN works with AK Connect - network, which combined all the devices Astell & Kern, which not only allows you to connect multiple players on the same network to play and copy music from any of them, but also to get content from a remote server. As can act as a server to any computer on which you want to install proprietary software, available for download for free on the official website. Everything works without problems both on Windows, and on Mac, as well as mobile applications. You can control playback via the player from any smartphone, and the content can be any device that is with him on the same network.
By connecting this player to your MacBook Pro via the micro-USB port, you can evaluate the quality of the built-in DAC KANN. He brings a whole new level even tracks from streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. KANN supports playback of the digital content with the parameters 32-bit / 382 kHz (PCM) and DSD256 (11.2mHz).
KANN sound can be placed in the middle between the flagship of the SP1000 and a simple player Astell & Kern. Player provides a good dynamic sound, without weakness, but the quality is even better than the AK380 without power. Despite the fact that there is applied one DAC AK4490, instead of two, it does not prevent to show impressive performance at the output. Sound has his own style, with a little brightness in the middle, but without the high color.
these headphones are used for listening to the music.
- Dunu DN-2000J
- Astell & Kern Rosie
Traditionally, some tracks for example.
Powerwolf - We Drink Your Blood The style of music is almost ideal for the player, angry guitars, distinctive vocals, driving melody, all benefits from the energetic flow. Conor Maynard - One Dance Good enough KANN cope with the transfer of more lyrical melodies such as this acoustic composition.
Alvaro Soler - La Cintura Once again, energy and expression, which are good at, and the performer and the player. Slightly pritemnenny sound compensates for unwanted Latin American motifs.
Astell & Kern long been asked to develop a single device instead of very expensive bundles of AK300 and amplifier. So to get the player KANN, significantly more affordable, compact in size and several times lighter. Especially now this device has no analogues on the power amplifier for headphones.