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Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern KANN Alpha

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The KANN Alpha is new player in Astell&Kern's popular KANN Series - it's also the first AK player to include a 4.4mm balanced jack.

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The Portable Power House

KANN ALPHA, the third product in the KANN series, which is loved by audiophiles around the world, was designed to solve the problem of providing ultra high power output in a digital audio player, while ensuring a compact design. While the goal of the Astell&Kern KANN line is to provide high power output to drive any headphone or IEM, KANN ALPHA has not forgotten the essence of being a portable DAP, so you can enjoy a near-perfect sound experience wherever you are.

The newly introduced feature of the 4.4mm balanced output port is exciting, however, the most important part is how we implemented it. Unlike other manufacturer’s products, KANN ALPHA has physically separated the 2.5mm and 4.4mm outputs using micro relays. When 2.5mm and 4.4mm structures are connected to the general mute circuit they do not prevent noise interference that may occur because each signal is not properly blocked. KANN ALPHA boasts noise-free output because we 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. KANN ALPHA boasts excellent performance measurement for crosstalk. Channel crosstalk is how much signal leaking there is between the L and R 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 products in its class.

KANN ALPHA supports the same powerful 12Vrms output as the existing KANN CUBE, however the player has been optimized to be more compact, a stable power supply is extremely important with the added power output to not affect the sound of a high resolution audio device. If vibration or noise is produced when power is supplied to the player, the sound becomes adversely affected by power noise. Ultra-small tantalum capacitors, which were developed exclusively for Astell&Kern through a collaboration with Matsuo Electric in Japan to meet our high performance requirements, supply stable power to the player and suppress electrical noise. This redesigned power circuit used in KANN ALPHA also allows us to achieve 14 ½ hours of continuous playback.

With KANN ALPHA, you can enjoy the fun of creating your own customized sound by selecting among various DAC filters provided by the ESS Sabre they include;

  • Linear Phase Fast Roll-Off: Most familiar filter with clean suppression and high rejection, best for music with high transients. Provides crisp clean highs
  • Minimum Phase Slow Roll-Off: Non-Symmetrical filter designed to minimize pre-ringing, strong punchy bass with excellent transient attack
  • Hybrid Fast Roll-Off: Combination of linear and minimum phase, punchy bass, good transients and punchy bass
KANN ALPHA features a LED volume wheel which displays various playback information, including volume level and bit-rate of the track currently playing. Red for 16-bit, green for 24-bit, blue for 32-bit and magenta for DSD playback.
Bluetooth 5.0 and Support for Wireless 24-Bit

KANN ALPHA is the first Astell&Kern player to use Bluetooth 5.0. The latest Bluetooth version provides high sound quality with the convenience of wireless Roon Ready 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 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.

Unique Manufacturing Technology Taken to a New Level

The first generation KANN used an extrusion method to form the aluminum body where the KANN ALPHA uses precise metal manufacturing to create a luxurious and detailed design. Like a sculpture, fine lines enhance the luxury look and feel of the player. A precision mold is then separately manufactured for the high-gloss ceramic top cover. Astell&Kern then uses more than seven different processes including low-speed machining to form the ceramic top cover and prevent cracking. Unlike other manufacturers, a ring is not simply inserted into the ceramic top where each audio terminal is located, instead a gold PVD coating is applied to minimize noise. A special coating is also applied to the ceramic surface to prevent fingerprints and smudging.

Astell&Kern's proprietary aluminum body design suppresses noise to improve sound quality, while providing the best signal transmission to the audio circuits. With A&K's laser ground extension technology, you can achieve the best sound possible. The vibration-free processing machines used by Astell&Kern are the same ones used by expensive Swiss luxury watch manufacturers. This is reflected in the crafting of the volume wheel which is processed precisely like the crown of a luxury watch for the best operating feel. Independent machining processing is applied to individual areas to create each small pattern. Most manufacturers say that they know and do metal processing, but Astell&Kern’s years of expertise and special attention to details shows in the final product.

Features

• MQA hardware rendering with support up to MQA 8x rendering

• Roon Ready & Open App Service / Music Streaming

• 4.4mm, 2.5mm & 3.5mm headphone outputs and 3.5mm Digital Optical Out

• USB Audio DAC for Windows & MAC OS

• Aluminum body

Technical Details

• Internal storage: 64GB + microSD card slot (up to 1TB)

• Quad-Core CPU & 4.1 inch HD 720 x 1280

• 5,600mAH Battery with up to 14.5hours of playback

• USB Type-C input (Charging & data connections for PC/MAC)

The Specs

• ESS ES9068AS Dual DAC

• Ultra-high balanced output up to 12Vrms

• PCM sampling frequency up to 32-bit 384kHz

• Native DSD256, 32bit/384kHz

• SNR @ 1KHz: 116dB SE, 117dB Balanced

• Crosstalk @ 1KHz:-128dB SE, -136dB Balanced Out

• THD+N @ 1KHz: 0.003% SE, 0.005% Balanced Out

• Output Impedance: 3.5mm (0.8ohms), 2.5mm (2ohms), 4.4mm (1.8ohms)

• Frequency Response (20Hz - 70kHz): ±0.021dB SE / ±0.0155dB Balanced

• Dimensions: 2.68"[W] x 4.60"[H] x ~1"[H]

• Weight: 11.14oz

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About Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern is the group responsible for some of the world's best portable music players. The latest models include a full slate of features such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi playback with Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz.