T.H.E. Show 2022: Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP

Jaime E. Love


The Astell & Kern KANN MAX DAP produced its global debut at Higher-Finish Munich not long ago and with good fanfare for the reason that it signifies pretty a jump in overall performance for the group. DAPs are nonetheless a detail even with all of the progress in smartphone know-how.

Astell&Kern had been extremely type to ship us a sample for our booth at T.H.E. Demonstrate final weekend in Extended Beach front and we have two assessments of the unit forthcoming eCoustics Sr. Headphone Editor, Will Jennings, currently has it underneath evaluation and I will be conducting a follow-up with distinctive headphones and headphone amplifiers.

I have had the option to consider some of the more mature types from the Korean manufacturer, but this will be my 1st prolonged audition of any of their merchandise to say that I’m thrilled would be an understatement.

Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA (major) vs KANN MAX (base)

The Skinny

The KANN Max follows on the heels of the very well respected A&K KANN ALPHA ($1,099 at Amazon), which Will owns and is the fourth product in the KANN lineup. In a aspect-by-side comparison, the MAX delivers a marginally smaller sized footprint, typically because of to its thinner design and style.

That reported, the MAX remains trustworthy to A&K’s “brick-like” industrial design you are having a pretty solidly crafted item that seems to be and feels like it is built to very last forever.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Angle
Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Side
Astell&Kern KANN MAX

The thinner layout does not suggest fewer participate in time because of a scaled-down battery Astell & Kern have frequently sought to boost the two the sonic performance of all of their DAPs whilst enhancing the battery lifetime.

The KANN MAX presents 4 various acquire settings earning it almost best for all IEMs and headphones one particular can drive tough planar and dynamic headphones with a contact of a switch up to a utmost of 15Vrms.

A&K is also worried about the sounds flooring anything that is crucial when the variety and style of IEMs and headphones probable to be used with it is so large. To counter this, A&K have separately configured the electricity offer IC for every part to limit it. The electricity provide is also perfectly shielded and developed to source thoroughly clean energy to the DAC, and headphone amplifier.

This design and style lets for the interference ripple sounds of the DC-DC ability supply (the shaking sounds phenomenon that happens when ability is equipped) to be eliminated.  Consequently, the MAX gives a significant output with a decrease sound floor.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Menu
Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Headphone Jacks

The MAX features various ESS ES9038Q2M DACs in a two chips for every channel configuration. By applying two DACs for each channel, the output can be summed and even more lessen distortion and increase resolution, so the depth and realism of the audio source can be expressed to the fullest. The MAX supports native 32-bit/768kHz and DSD512 playback together with full guidance for MQA. 

Relationship choices include things like a 3.5mm unbalanced, 2.5mm and 4.4mm well balanced headphone outputs. The MAX functions Bluetooth 5. which enables more quickly transmission pace and increased vary when compared to Bluetooth 4.2, giving a a lot more steady wireless link. Both LDAC™ and aptX™ High definition are supported to deliver audiophiles with 24-bit audio playback wirelessly.

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Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA vs KANN MAX DAPs Bottom Side by Side
Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA (remaining) vs KANN MAX (suitable)

Other notable capabilities contain ReplayGain, which lets the player to mechanically adjust the quantity concerning tracks and maintain a dependable playback level. A Bluetooth sink permits the MAX to link to an external machine via BT as very well, and operate as a Bluetooth DAC. Audio from an exterior unit, this kind of as a smartphone can now be performed back in high-high quality, having entire gain of the hi-res audio decoding in the participant.

With AK File Fall, transferring your new music files from a computer or NAS is now even much easier and far more effortless. Working with AK File Fall, you can freely transfer information wirelessly as a result of a Computer, smartphone, or FTP program positioned on the exact same community.  Audio file administration is now possible with a cableless, wireless resolution. This is how you would also down load your Tidal or Qobuz catalog.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Screen

The MAX features a 4.1-inch 720 x 1280 Hd touchscreen, 64GB of interior memory with assist for microSD cards up to 1TB, Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, USB electronic audio output, USB-C for knowledge transfer and speedy-charge aid, and the potential to be utilized as a USB DAC for your Mac or Windows-primarily based Computer. 

The MAX consists of guidance for the most preferred audio streaming solutions such as Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Tunes, Apple Tunes, and Spotify via WiFi. Roon Completely ready guidance will be readily available in a long run firmware update pending screening and certification of the participant by Roon Labs. 

The KANN MAX will be accessible in June 2022 at approved Astell&Kern dealers in the US/Canada for $1,299.

Three scenarios will also be readily available in June for the MAX, produced of higher-high-quality vegetable leather-based from CONCERIA WALPIER and BADALASSI CARLO for $149. Individually, a circumstance is a should for me, and the types which makers deliver through possibilities these as this are effectively truly worth the price.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP with Meze Audio Advar IEM
Astell&Kern KANN MAX with Meze Audio Advar IEM

The Sound (briefly)

Paired with the Meze Advar to begin with, which we have on tour and BeachHiFi carries the device has a 10.2mm dynamic driver, and is fairly simple to generate. The duo played fortunately collectively in accordance to Will. He notes that the Advar comes throughout with an authoritative rumble and slam, along with really good influence. He when compared the Advar to a Meze 99 Basic condensed into an IEM version.

I tried out the MAX with the Auribus Acoustics Mt. Everest (as did Juan, the designer of the Everest) at T.H.E. Clearly show. I came absent with the MAX owning sufficient electricity, but will observe that I did not have time to great tune any configurations this sort of as get so I had to increase the quantity up really a little bit. The buyers that experimented with the MAX at T.H.E. Display pointed out the exact, but thanks to restricted time for all, we agreed that a lot more time would have authorized us to fantastic tune the MAX to each of our most popular settings.

Look for a much more extensive evaluate from Will in July.

The place to purchase: $1,299 at Crutchfield

Carry on looking through: Show Reports from T.H.E. Display 2022

Relevant video: Why really should you acquire a DAP? (YouTube)

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