Astell&Kern KANN Ultra Music Player Review & Comparison | Moon Audio
Astell&Kern KANN Ultra Music Player Review & Comparison | Moon Audio
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Experience the KANN ULTRA more vividly and comfortably with a wide 5.5-inch, large-screen Full HD display.
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.
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.
5.5-inch HD 10800 x 1920 touchscreen
Supported Audio Formats
WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DIFF, DSF, MQA
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
[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)
Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)
0℃ ~ + 40℃ (32℉~ 104℉)
±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
±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
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)
Reference Clock Jitter
200 Femto Seconds
microSD x 1 (Max. 1TB)
8,400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer
About 4.5 hours (9V 1.67A Fast Charging) | 6.5 hours (5V 2A General Charging)
About 11 hours (Standard: FLAC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz, Vol. 50, LCD Off, LED On, Low Gain)
Windows 8, 10, 11 (32/64bit); MAC OS X 10.7