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Introducing KANN Alpha Music Player, the latest DAP by Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern HANN Alpha

Pre-Orders Start 9/21/20: Delivery 10/31/20

Astell&Kern never stops innovating. Their product lineup is always expanding and improving. So needless to say the recent announcement of the latest KANN iteration was a welcomed surprise. You're probably asking yourself, "So what's the difference?" Well, let's get into it.

The Wrath of KANN

The KANN Alpha is the third music player in the KANN series of DAPs by Astell&Kern. The goal of the KANN line has always been to provide ultra high power output to drive any headphone or IEM. Like the previous KANN Cube, the Alpha maintains the title of powerhouse, offering the same power specs as the previous model. Other features of the new KAAN Alpha include the following:

  • The first Astell&Kern DAP to feature a 4.4mm balanced output
  • Complete separation of balanced lines to provide noise-free output
  • Crosstalk of 141dB and top-notch audio performance through a complete circuit redesign
  • Powerful 12Vrms ultra-high output support
  • 14 1/2 hours of continous playback
  • Equipped with the latest version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Artistic design and ultra-precision metal shaping technology that Astell&Kern has perfected
KANN Alpha Features

The First DAP with a 4.4mm Balanced Output Port

The newly introduced feature of the 4.4mm balanced output port is exciting, however, the most important part is how Astell&Kern implements it. Unlike other manufacturer's products, the KANN Alpha has physically separated the 2.5mm and 4.4mm outputs using micro relays. With other manufacturers, when 2.5mm and 4.4mm structures are connected to the mute circuit, noise interference is not prevented because each signal is not properly blocked.

KANN Alpha boasts noise-free output because Astell&Kern built in an independent structure that completely blocks interference from outputs that are not being used and to be switched off, therefore preventing the noise from occurring.

Gold PVD Coating Method

In order to minimize contact noise from the output, a gold PVD coating method is applied to the headphone connector instead of the typical rings used by other products. This improves both design and function.

By adopting NDICS' Pentaconn 4.4mm connector, KANN Alpha not only satisfies the requests of users, but the implementation boasts excellent quality and durability.

The Highest Level of Channel Separation

KANN Alpha boasts excellent performance measurement for crosstalk. Channel crosstalk is how much signal leaking there is between the left and right channels. The higher the crosstalk number, the better the separation between channels and the deeper and wider the sense of space that can be felt. As evident with the newly developed audio circuit design, KANN Alpha features a never-before-seen Crosstalk measurement of -141dB (High Gain), which is unmatched by any other portable audio product in its class.

KANN Alpha Channel Circuit Design

KANN Alpha circuit design

In a sense, the KANN Alpha is a mini-KANN Cube, providing the same amount of power but with longer battery life.

Same Power, More Battery

The KANN Alpha supports the same powerful 12Vrms output as the existing KANN Cube, however the player has been optimized to be more compact. This is achieved through the miniaturization of numerous parts such as resistors and capacitors, by rearranging various components and through circuit optimization. This resulted in the modification of more than 60 parts during the development process. Ultra-small tantalum capacitors, which were developed exclusively for Astell&Kern through a collaboration with Matsuo Electric in Japan to meet the high performance requirements, supply stable power to the player, and suppress electrical noise.

The redesigned power circuit used in the KANN Alpha can allow for up to 14 1/2 hours of continuous playback.

KANN Comparison Chart

Wireless Upgrades

The Alpha is the first Astell&Kern music player to implement Bluetooth 5.0. This latest version provides great sound quality with the convenience of wireless playback to headphones and IEMs. Bluetooth 5.0 features faster transmission speed and greater range compared to Bluetooth 4.2, therefore providing a more stable wireless connection. Both LDAC and Qualcomm aptX HD is supported to provide audiophiles with the best wireless sound possible. The high-quality sound that Astell&Kern is known for can now be heard when using Bluetooth earphones, headphones, and speakers.

Bluetooth Codec Chart
Features BT 5.0 BT 4.2

Speed

2Mbps

1Mbps

Range

40m

10m

Power Consumption

Low

High


Customize Your Sound


With the KANN Alpha, you can enjoy the fun of creating your own customized sound by selecting among various DAC filters provided by the DAC manufacturer.

This was a popular feature which started with the SE200 music player, and we are certainly glad to see it roll over into new models. More control means that you have the ability to listen to the music the way you want.

Color Coding

Another carry-over from the SE200 music player is the color wheel around the volume knob. The Alpha features the this LED wheel which displays various playback information, including volume level and bit-rate of the track currently playing. This LED can also be turned off if desired.

Alpha Knob Color Codes

KANN Comparisons


KANN Cube - A Comparison with the Original

How does the KANN Cube stack up to the already popular KANN from Astell&Kern's lineup? Some major upgrades make the Cube a must-have.


Here is a spec-by-spec comparison of the KANN, KANN Cube, and the KANN Alpha:

Specs KANN KANN Cube KANN Alpha

COLOR

Astro Silver, Eos Blue

Wolf Gray

Onyx Black

MATERIAL

Aluminum

Aluminum

Aluminum

DIMENSIONS

2.80" (71.23mm) [W] x 4.56" (115.8mm) [H] x 1.01" (25.6mm) [D]

3.45” (87.75mm)[W] x 5.51” (140mm) [H] x 1.24” (31.5mm) [D]

2.69"(68.3mm) [W] x 4.61" (117mm) [H] x 0.98" (25mm) [D]

WEIGHT

9.83oz (278.7g)

17.8ox (502g)

11.14oz (315g)

DISPLAY

4inch (480x800) touch screen display

5inch (720x1280) HD touch screen display

4.1inch (720x1280) HD touch screen display

SUPPORT AUDIO

WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA

WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA

SAMPLE RATE

PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample); DSD Native: DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1bit 11.2 MHz), Stereo

PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample); DSD Native: DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1bit 11.2MHz) Stereo

PCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample) / DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo

OUTPUT LEVEL

Phone Out: Normal - UNBAL 2Vms / BAL Vrms (Condition No Load), High - UNBAL 4Vrms / BAL 7Vrms (Condition No Load)

High (BAL 12Vrms | UNBAL 6Vrms), Mid (BAL 8Vrms |UNBAL 4Vrms), Low (BAL 4Vrms | UNBAL 2Vrms) | 5pin XLR (4Vrms)

High: Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load
Mid: Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)
Low: Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)Text

CPU

Dual-Core

Quad-Core

Quad-Core

DAC

AKM AK4490 x 1 (Single DAC)

ESS9039PRO SABRE 8channel DAC x2 (Dual DAC)

ESS ES9068AS x2 (Dual DAC)

DECODING

Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit Decoding

Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback

OUTPUT

Phone Out / Line Out: PHONES(3.5mm) / BAL Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported) / USB Audio: micro USB Connection / PCM: Up to 32bit 284kHz / DSD 2.8 / 5.6MHz

PHONES (3.5mm) / Optical Out (3.5mm) / Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported) / mini 5pin XLR

Unbalanced Out (3.5mm) / Optical Out(3.5mm)
Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

WIFI

802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

BLUETOOTH

V4.0 (A2DP,AVRCP) / aptX HD

V4.1 (A2DP, AVRCP, aptXTM HD)

V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

PLAYTIME

15 hours (approx.)

8-10 hours (approx.)

14.5 hours (approx.)

MEMORY

64GB[NAND], microSD x1 (Max. 400GB) / SD x1 (Max. 512GB)

128GB[NAND], microSD x1 [max 512GB] (up to 2TB supported)

64GB[NAND], microSD x1 (Max 1TB)

BATTERY

6,200mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer Battery

7,800mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer Battery

5,600mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer Battery


There is a lot to like about the new KANN Alpha music player from Astell&Kern. They keep improving on an already stellar and innovative product design, and implement a whole slew of new features into an incredibly packed and petite powerhouse of a DAP. We'll have a review up as soon as possible, so stay tuned for the latest news and update about the KANN Alpha.

Astell&Kern KANN Alpha Pre-Orders Start September 21st: Expected October 31

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