DACs Deciphered: The 4 Major Types Explained | Moon Audio

Kann Ultra Music Player DAP

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The most powerful DAP on the market. Quality AK sound, design, and materials. More details

DACs Deciphered: The 4 Major Types Explained | Moon Audio

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The most powerful Astell&Kern music player to date. It'll drive just about every headphone on the market, including the Dan Clark AEON Noire, Stealth, and Expanse. The true discrete separate pathway for line out makes it an ideal source for your two-channel home system or a portable amp like the Cayin C9. The C9 has the ability to completely turn off the preamp stage. So if you like the signature of the KANN Ultra, it would be a more affordable option than the Cayin DAPs in terms of being a dedicated Preamp/Source for an End Game Amplifier like the C9.

The KANN Ultra is a portable music player for those who need power on the go. If you love taking your full-size audiophile-grade headphones with you wherever you go, then the KANN Ultra is for you. Drive those headphones to your heart's content - especially if you have some planar magnetics where an increase in power output equates to an increase in sound quality and fidelity. The new flagship-level DAC chips sound stunning, and combined with the four levels of gain and tons of power behind the wheel, your music will finally have everything it needs to flex its musical muscles like never before.

The differentiator here is not just the increased output however, but the addition of the pre and line-outs. This offers the user lots more options with how they want to integrate the music player into their system, either portable, small-form desktop, or even full-blown desktop compatibility as a standalone music source. You're not limited to simply a headphone setup on the go. Astell&Kern has always been stellar about giving the listener options with how and where they want to listen to their music.

Fueling Your Sound

The KANN series is adored by audiophiles all over the world for its performance that focuses on ultra-high output and clear sound.

KANN ULTRA, the 5th product in the KANN series, continues the success of the KANN series by providing the highest output of any Astell&Kern player, the inclusion of Triple Output Sound, and an optimized processor and UI/UX to make it even easier to enjoy clear sound performance.

With four Gain Modes that provides up to 16Vrms of desktop Hi-Fi level output and sound, and ES9039MPRO Dual DAC chips, KANN ULTRA perfectly powers many of today's headphones with high resolution. A separate Pre/Line Out allow users to enjoy the sound with a variety of different devices.

  • Triple Output Mode Featuring Separately Configured Circuit and Amplifier Designs
  • Headphone Out / Pre-Out / Line Out
  • Next-Generation Octa-Core Processors With Significant High-Performance Improvements
  • Supports 4 Preset Gain Settings With Ultra-High Output up to 16Vrms (Headphone Out)
  • Equipped With ES9039MPRO Dual DACs
  • Featured Digital Audio Remaster (DAR) Technology
  • Supports Playback up to 32-bit/768kHz, Native DSD512
  • Features Astell&Kern's Unique TERATON ALPHA Technology
  • Up to 11 Hours of Playback (Battery 8,400mAh)

Triple Output, Triple Sound

KANN ULTRA features a Triple Output Mode that allows you to enjoy Astell&Kern's perfectly prepared sound when connected to demanding headphones, highly detailed IEMs, and external devices.

Instead of simply separating the output ports, Astell&Kern's Teraton Alpha technology allows for separate amplifier/sound design for the Headphone Out and Line/Pre-Out ports to provide the optimal sound for each port.

Complete your powerful Head-Fi system even on portable devices with the KANN ULTRA with Triple Output.

*Headphone Out 3.5mm Port: S/PDIF Out Supports

1. Headphone Out

The port features 4 preset gain settings and ultra-high output of up to 16Vrms. The headphone port is designed to perfectly run demanding headphones with high impedance using only the player with no external AMP.

2. Pre-Out

Select Pre-Out mode on the Pre/Line Out port to output sound to an external amplifier or audio device.

[Pre-Out] This mode delivers sound through a specially designed Pre-Out amplifier, instead of the high-powered Headphone Out amp. Pre-Out functions like a Pre-AMP and you can control the volume with the volume wheel.

*No Gain or Voltage settings, maximum output 2Vrms/4Vrms

3. Line Out

Select Line Out mode on the Pre/Line Out port to output sound that is optimized when connected to external devices.

[Line-Out] This mode outputs the sound from the DAC directly without going through an amplifier, resulting in the lowest noise level and making it ideal for connecting to external audio devices.

Line Out has a fixed voltage output (4 levels) and no volume control.

4 Gain Levels and Outputs up to 16Vrms for the Perfect Head-Fi

To run the most sophisticated IEMs and headphones, a DAP needs to be able to fully deliver an output that matches the characteristics of the receiver.

KANN ULTRA features 4 preset gain settings up to 16Vrms, the most powerful output of any Astell&Kern player, to optimally run the many IEMs and headphones available today.

The current-handling capability of the output port has been increased to reliably run devices of different impedances at the Gain Level setting, and the AMPs have been separated into Balanced and Unbalanced to optimize currents and reduce noise for the best possible sound.

On top of providing the most powerful output, KANN ULTRA features a larger 5.5-inch screen and improved grip compared to KANN CUBE, which was popular for its high output versatility. Weight for KANN ULTRA has been significantly reduced to 390 grams.

TERATON ALPHA, The Essence of A&K Audio Technologies

From an ultra-high output that can run even the most delicate headphones, to the Triple Output design, and the complex amplifier design with minimal noise in a compact portable audio player, this would all not have been possible without AK's Ultimate Sound Solution, TERATON ALPHA. Astell&Kern has taken the TERATON ALPHA to the next level with its know-how in noise reduction at ultra-high power, acquired from its predecessors such as the KANN MAX and the CA1000 series.

TERATON ALPHA, engineered through continuous research, is Astell&Kern's unique technology that has been designed to produce audio playback that is as close to the original sound through effective power noise removal, efficient power management and unwavering amplification, and a fully converted audio output interface.

Upgraded Sound, the Newest ESS Flagship DAC

The KANN ULTRA is designed with dual ES9039MPRO DACs, the newest flagship DAC from ESS, to deliver richer and more expansive sounds that exceed your expectations.

The ES9039MPRO is an updated ES9039PRO model that has a built-in stereo hardware MQA renderer. It has even more advanced modulation than the existing flagship DAC to reduce power consumption, noise and distortions inside the DAC for enhanced audio performance.

Astell&Kern has redesigned the AMP BLOCK to ensure that the clear, high-resolution sound of the ES9039MPRO is clearly expressed through every port of the Triple Output, and each output's characteristics show its own advanced performance.

Audio Block Diagram

Incredible User Experience With Next-Generation Octa-Core Porcessors

KANN ULTRA is the first to feature the next-gen Octa-Core processors with significant performance improvements, allowing you to enjoy KANN ULTRA's incredible sound performance with faster system speeds and a 4th generation UI/UX that flows faster and smoother.

The audio circuit area is physically separated from the processor area, which includes the CPU, memory, and wireless communication components, and is equipped with a dedicated shield can to minimize the heat and noise generated by the processor.

Crimson User Interface, A Music-Only Player

KANN ULTRA features a Crimson-themed UI/UX for the first time in the KANN series, making it a "Player for Music" that leaves an impression in the process and experience of listening to music.

The Crimson UX/UI is designed so that users can quickly browse music categories and re-discover songs within their music library.

We also added an easy album art search function so that users can re-discover the joy of viewing and interacting with music album art whilst listening to their music.

The crimson theme focuses on edge, simplicity, and dark mode keywords. The color theme of black with red highlights lowers visual fatigue and offers intuitive user experiences, and includes many other improvements to the device’s user-friendliness of streaming app services, artist view, album sorting, and album art search function.

Immerse yourself in music with Crimson UX/UI.

Sound Design by DAC Filter

With the KANN ULTRA, you can pick and choose from seven DAC filters to create your own sound style.

Design your own sound with the seven DAC filters.

Digital Audio Remaster Technology for Even More Vivid Original Sound

The KANN ULTRA is equipped with Digital Audio Remaster (DAR) technology, which was developed to deliver fine sound at higher sample rates.DAR technology is developed to upsample the sample rate of the sound source being played to go beyond the limits of the source format.The high sample rate allows more refined playback and offers delicate and analog-like original sound, helping you to enjoy the richness of the original sound, subtle differences in the nuance of the music and full-bodied sounds at a higher level.

*The DAR function can be turned on and off and you may select it to suit the source sound and your own preferences.

*Max PCM rate 384kHz/DSD256 conversion play is supported, and the files will be converted to and played in the sample rates that fit the source sound.

Crossfeed, Speaker Effect When Listening Through Headphones

In a headphone environment in which the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue may increase during prolonged listening. The moment you turn on Crossfeed, the experience of crisp, but comfortable sound begins.

Crossfeed mixes parts of the original signal from one channel and sends that signal to the opposite channel with a time difference to center the sound image.

Through the use of detailed settings such as Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Level, you can set the level of crossfeed according to your listening preferences.

Real-Time Information Confirmed by Light

The LED lights on the volume wheel visually represent the power of the KANN ULTRA and show the volume level or the Bit Depth of the currently playing song.

*LED can be turned on or off according to user setting.

Support Native DSD512, 32-bit/768kHz

KANN ULTRA supports playback of Native DSD512 and up to 32bit/768kHz PCM audio with Astell&Kern’s excellent audio technology, allowing you to fully enjoy your favorite music.

AK File Drop to Enjoy Wireless Transfers

The new AK File Drop function in the KANN ULTRA makes file transfers easier and more convenient. Using AK File Drop, you can freely transfer files wirelessly through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network. Music file management is now possible with a cableless, wireless solution.

ROON ARC App Supported

KANN ULTRA supports the Roon Arc App through Open Service. Roon ARC gives you remote access to your complete, personalized library of artists, albums, playlists, and tags - supported by rich, in-depth metadata that inspires you to discover more about the music you love.

Adoption of 5.5-inch Full HD Display 

Experience the KANN ULTRA more vividly and comfortably with a wide 5.5-inch, large-screen Full HD display.

ReplayGain Automatically and Uniformly Adjusts Playback Volume

ReplayGain automatically adjusts the loudness of each song to prevent large fluctuations of volume between different musical tracks. Now, you can enjoy your own playlists seamlessly, at a consistent volume using the ReplayGain feature on the KANN ULTRA.

*ReplayGain supports up to 24-bit/192 kHz sound sources.

Wireless Hi-Fi Sound Through BT Sink

BT Sink function connects the KANN ULTRA to an external device via Bluetooth, similar to connecting a smartphone with a BT speaker. Music from an external device, such as a smartphone can now be played back in high-quality on the KANN ULTRA using the BT Sink function.

What's in the Box?

  • Kann Ultra Music Player DAP

General Specifications



Body Color

Astro Gray

Body Material



5.5-inch HD 10800 x 1920 touchscreen

Supported Audio Formats


Sample Rate

PCM: 8kHz ~ 768kHz (8/16/24/32-bits per Sample)

DSD Native: DSD64 (1-bit, 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1-bit, 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1-bit, 11.2MHz), Stereo / DSD512 (1-bit, 22.4MHz), Stereo

Output Level

Headphone Out

[Low Gain] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)

[Mid Gain] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)

[High Gain] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)

[Super Gain] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 16Vrms (Condition No Load)

Pre - Line Out: Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)




ESS ES9039MPRO x 2 (Dual-DAC)


Support up to 32-Bit/768kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback


USB Type-C Input (For Charging & PC & MAC)


Headphone Out: 3.5mm (Unbalanced Out, Optical Out), 4.4mm (Balanced Out, only 5-pole supported)

Pre - Line Out: 3.5mm (Unbalanced Out), 4.4mm (Balanced Out, only 5-pole supported)


802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)


V4.2 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)


3.24" (82.4mm) [W] x 5.55" (141.1mm) [H] x 0.96" (24.4mm) [D]


About 13.75oz (390g)

Feature Enhancements

Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Operating Temperature

0℃ ~ + 40℃ (32℉~ 104℉)

Audio Specifications

Frequency Response

Headphone Out

±0.006dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.004dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced

±0.016dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.020dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced


±0.022dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced

±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

Line Out

±0.002dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.002dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced

±0.007dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.006dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced


Headphone Out: 115dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ 119dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Pre-Out: 110dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ 126dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Line Out: 110dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ 125dB @ 1kHz, Balanced


Headphone Out: -134dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ -140dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Pre-Out: -128dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ -128dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Headphone Out: -129dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ -121dB @ 1kHz, Balanced


Headphone Out: 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Balanced

Pre-Out: 0.0012% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced

Line Out: 0.0013% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced │ 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced


Headphone Out: 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced │ 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Pre-Out: 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced │ 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Line Out: 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced │ 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Output Impedance

Headphone Out: Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1ohm) │ Balanced Out 4.4mm (1.3ohm)

Pre-Out: Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (3.5ohm) │ Balanced Out 4.4mm (5.7ohm)

Line Out: Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (6.5ohm) │ Balanced Out 4.4mm (ohm)

Clock Source

Clock Jitter

25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter

200 Femto Seconds

Storage Capacity

Built-In Memory

128GB [NAND]

External Memory

microSD x 1 (Max. 1TB)



8,400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time

About 4.5 hours (9V 1.67A Fast Charging) | 6.5 hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time

About 11 hours (Standard: FLAC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz, Vol. 50, LCD Off, LED On, Low Gain)

Supported OS

Supported OS

Windows 8, 10, 11 (32/64bit); MAC OS X 10.7