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.

Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA Digital Audio Player

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.

AK-KANN-Alpha-output-ports

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.

AK KANN ALPHA is available on B&H Photo Video here.

Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA Specifications

Model NameKANN ALPHA
Body ColorOnyx Black
Body MaterialAluminum
Display 4.1" inch 720 x 1280 Touch Display
Built-in Storage64GB
External MemorymicroSD (Max. 1TB) x1
Supported Audio FormatsWAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA
Samples RatePCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
DSD Native: DSD64. DSD128, DSD256
Output LevelHigh: Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)
Mid: Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)
Low: Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
DACESS ES9068AS x2 (Dual DAC)
DecodingSupport up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback
InputUSB Type-C input (for charging PC & MAC)
OutputsUnbalanced Out (3.5mm) / Optical Out(3.5mm)
Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)
Wireless Connection802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)
Dimensions2.68" x 4.60" x 0.98" / 68.3mm x 117mm x 25mm (WxHxD)
Weightabout 316 g
Feature EnhancementsFirmware upgrades supported (OTA)
Supported OSWindows 7,8,10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and up
Battery Capacity5,600mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer Battery
Continuous Playback TimeAbout 14.5 hours (Standard : FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Vol.80, LCD Off, Low Gain)
Charge TimeAbout 3.5 hours (9V/1.67A Fast Charging) / 5hours (5V/2A General Charging)
Audio Specs
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 Ratio116dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 117dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
Crosstalk-128dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -136dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
THD+N0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced
IMD SMPTE0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Unbalanced / 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Balanced
Output ImpedanceUnbalanced Out 3.5mm (0.8ohm) / Balanced out 2.5mm (2.0ohm), 4.4mm(1.8ohm)
Reference Clock Jitter250 Femto Seconds(VCXO)
Clock Jitter25ps(Typ)

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