Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA “Power House” Digital Audio Player Released
Astell&Kern announces the third generation of their KANN digital audio player lineup – meet the Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA. Just like its predecessors the KANN and KANN CUBE, the Alpha is also a powerhouse DAP; “The Power House” DAP. It features a dual ESS Sabre ES9068AS DAC chips, quad-core CPU, and has both 2.5mm and 4.4mm (Pentaconn) balanced outputs. I think the 4.4mm balanced output is what makes this DAP exciting.
UPDATE: Astell&Kern KANN Alpha now also available on Amazon.com here
Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA DAP – “The Power House”
Astell&Kern’s KANN series is known to be a powerhouse DAP. And the third generation KANN ALPHA is no exception to that. What the KANN Alpha offers aside from a powerful output is a cleaner and cleaner signal, via the 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced outputs.
Both the 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced output on the KANN Alpha is capable of 12Vrms. That’s basically similar to the previous KANN Cube. In fact, the output levels of the KANN Alpha and KANN Cube are similar. The only difference is, the KANN Alpha has a 4.4mm balanced output. And I think most audiophiles would prefer the 4.4mm Pentaconn on the Alpha rather than the 5pin mini XLR on the Cube.
Another new feature than the KANN Alpha brings on the table is Bluetooth 5.0. Now, BT 5.0 isn’t new, many DAPs and other mobile devices are already using it. But believe it or not, it’s the first for Astell&Kern. 24-bit audio wireless playback wirelessly is provided by both LDAC and aptX HD.
In addition to that, the KANN Alpha offers improved battery life over its predecessor. We can expect up to 14.5 hours of continuous playback with the Alpha. Of course, actual battery life could be lesser depending on how you use it.
The company also highlights the complete separation of balanced lines on the KANN Alpha, that provide noise-free output. This is achieved via an independent structure that completely blocks interference from outputs by switching off outputs that are not being used; therefore preventing noise from occurring.
Aside from the features mentioned above, the KANN Alpha has two ESS ES9068AS DACs. The DACs are arranged in a dual-mono configuration. This provides a wider soundstage and better stereo separation. MQA hardware rendering is built into the ES9068AS DACs and support MQA 8x rendering. KANN ALPHA also supports MQA-CD playback, when playing MQA-CDs using the AK CD-Ripper (available separately).
A quad-core processor powers the Astell&Kern KANN Alpha; and runs on Android 9.0. It has a 4.1″-inch HD touchscreen display and 64GB of internal memory, with support for microSD card up to 1TB. Aside from BT 5.0, there’s also WiFi, DLNA networking, USB digital audio output, and USB-C port with support for fast charging.
If you are wondering if the KANN Alpha will support third party (streaming) apps like Spotify, Tidal, and the likes; then the answer is yes! The KANN Alpha has the latest UI from A&K and has support for Open App service. This adds Android APK support, allowing users to install additional music streaming services by simply copying and installing the APK file.
Price and Where to Buy
The Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,099 USD. That’s a bit cheaper than the KANN Cube’s MSRP of $1,499 when it was first released. As for availability, we will see it shipping starting October. If you are in the US, you can check the link below for the latest pricing and availability.
Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA Specifications
|Model Name||KANN ALPHA|
|Body Color||Onyx Black|
|Display||4.1" inch 720 x 1280 Touch Display|
|External Memory||microSD (Max. 1TB) x1|
|Supported Audio Formats||WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA|
|Samples Rate||PCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
DSD Native: DSD64. DSD128, DSD256
|Output Level||High: Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)
Mid: Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)
Low: Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
|DAC||ESS ES9068AS x2 (Dual DAC)|
|Decoding||Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback|
|Input||USB Type-C input (for charging PC & MAC)|
|Outputs||Unbalanced Out (3.5mm) / Optical Out(3.5mm)
Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)
|Wireless Connection||802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX HD, LDAC)
|Dimensions||2.68" x 4.60" x 0.98" / 68.3mm x 117mm x 25mm (WxHxD)|
|Weight||about 316 g|
|Feature Enhancements||Firmware upgrades supported (OTA)|
|Supported OS||Windows 7,8,10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and up|
|Battery Capacity||5,600mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer Battery|
|Continuous Playback Time||About 14.5 hours (Standard : FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Vol.80, LCD Off, Low Gain)|
|Charge Time||About 3.5 hours (9V/1.67A Fast Charging) / 5hours (5V/2A General Charging)|
|Frequency Response||±0.021dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.024dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
±0.21dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.155dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced
|Signal to Noise Ratio||116dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 117dB @ 1kHz, Balanced|
|Crosstalk||-128dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -136dB @ 1kHz, Balanced|
|THD+N||0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced|
|IMD SMPTE||0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Unbalanced / 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Balanced|
|Output Impedance||Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (0.8ohm) / Balanced out 2.5mm (2.0ohm), 4.4mm(1.8ohm)|
|Reference Clock Jitter||250 Femto Seconds(VCXO)|