Astell & Kern have expanded their line of huge, yet still portable KANN players with the KANN Alpha. The novelty differs from most of the brand’s players in the presence of two balanced outputs: the usual 2.5 mm for Astell & Kern and more reliable (especially taking into account the dimensions and weight of the player) 4.4 mm. In addition to the balanced outputs, there is also the classic 3.5 mm – all of them located at the top of the player. Unused outputs, according to the company, are completely disabled.
The design of the novelty is chopped, the body is massive, made of aluminum and ceramics, but, unlike the KANN Cube, which has been on our test, it is smooth and devoid of various grooves and grooves. The main control element is a 5-inch touchscreen. The volume control wheel is now illuminated, and the backlight color changes depending on the type of file being played. Inside the player, a more powerful amplifier is installed – the KANN Alpha outputs 12 V voltage at the balanced outputs, and the power for specific headphones is not difficult to calculate. The user can choose between low, medium and high gain when working with different headphones.
A pair of ESS Saber ES9068AS chips operating according to the “dual mono” scheme is responsible for signal processing. The player is ready to accept PCM up to 32 bit / 384 kHz, DSD256 and is also equipped with a built-in MQA 8x decoder. Additional sound customization is available using various DAC filters. The player is equipped with all the functionality of modern Astell & Kern – it works in USB DAC mode, supports network playback (both DLNA and streaming services through installing APK applications), uses USB as a digital output.
The built-in memory of KANN Alpha is 64 GB, expandable with a microSD card up to 1 TB. The customized version of Android 9.0 is powered by a quad-core processor. The Astell & Kern KANN Alpha is slated to go on sale in October for the US market at $1,100.