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Astell & Kern Kann

Portable high-resolution audio player (Eos Blue)

2 Reviews | 1 question - 3 answers

Item # 838KANNEB

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Overview

Our take on the Astell & Kern Kann

I spent some time with Astell & Kern's new portable high-res player, the Kann. Its beveled edges felt great in my hand, and the player had a nice heft to it. Most important, though, was the way music sounded through it. On that score, the Kann delivered beautifully — especially with high-resolution tracks.

Astell & Kern Kann

One powerful portable

I spent some time with Astell & Kern's new portable high-res player, the Kann. Its beveled edges felt great in my hand, and the player had a nice heft to it. Most important, though, was the way music sounded through it. On that score, the Kann delivered beautifully — especially with high-resolution tracks.

Exceptional sound quality

The Kann features a high-performance DAC capable of decoding high-res PCM-based files up to 32-bit/384kHz. It'll also play any DSD files you send its way. You can play high-resolution downloads from sites like HDtracks or TIDAL on the Kann without any down conversion. The Kann even helps lossy MP3s sound their best.

Its high signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion let subtle details come through. High-fidelity, low-impedance output gives your headphones more power than most portable music players, for optimal performance. There's even a high-gain switch for use with demanding headphones.

Touchscreen and simple controls

The player's color touchscreen is simple to navigate. It displays artist and title info as well as album artwork. The Kann features a side-mounted analog volume control, allowing fine, nuanced adjustments.

Expandable memory

The Kann has a 64GB internal memory, which you can easily supplement. The player features an SD card slot for cards up to 512GB, plus a microSD card slot for cards up to 256GB. It's possible to hold up to 832GB of music files in your hand.

Product Highlights:

  • digital music player — plays MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AAC, AIFF, and WMA files
    • native playback for DSD files (up to DSD256, or 11.2MHz)
  • 32-bit/384kHz DAC for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
  • built-in headphone amp with normal/high-gain switch for driving even the most demanding headphones
  • USB input allows for use as an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with a computer
  • 64GB internal flash memory
  • SD card slot for cards up to 512GB
  • microSD card slot for cards up to 256GB
  • 4" color touchscreen
  • analog volume wheel provides fine level adjustments
  • 3.5mm unbalanced headphone/optical output for connection to headphones, receiver/amp, or an external DAC
  • 2.5mm balanced, 4-pole output for connection to compatible headphones
  • Bluetooth® with aptX HD audio coding for high-fidelity streaming to compatible headphones and speakers
  • built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 15 hours of playback
  • high-speed USB interface (cable included) for drag-and-drop file transfer and battery charging
  • USB output
  • extruded aluminum body
  • 2-13/16"W x 4-5/8"H x 1"D
  • weight: 0.61 lbs.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Portable digital music player
  • 39" microUSB-C to USB cable
  • 2 Protective films
  • microSD card slot cover
  • SD card slot cover
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Card
Reviews

Astell & Kern Kann Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(2 Reviews)

Could be better

Gerald from Boston, MA on 11/14/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Overall, I think the Kann is a great hi-res player.. The sound is one of the best I've heard. I have some gripes.... It's too chunky! Very cumbersome to carry around with you. Another is, I've performed a software update via an alert I received on the Kann. Ever since that, it was tough to upload new music files to the unit. About 90% of the time, my MAC wouldn't acknowledge the Kann. When it would, I would see a dozen error messages asking me to unplug, restart Kann, and reconnect. I would do this multiple times and still wouldn't successfully connect. I went to A&K Support and they weren't that helpful at all. Also, you cannot interchange cards with other Hi-res players. For instance, the Kann won't read the card that was in a Sony player... ETC... Not sure why if the music files are the same. But so be it I guess. For the money this costs, I would think the unit would be better with upgrades and reading additional cards...

Pros: Sound is unbelievable! Love the memory capability.

Cons: Too chunky! Also, handled poorly with software upgrade. Needs to be able to read additional memory cards from other hi-res players.

Great sound !

Big B from Brooklyn on 8/24/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

First I would like to say that Astell & Kern (iriver) is good at what they do. The Kann sound is awesome. The design and control features knocks it down to 4 stars that including the useless instructions you definitely have to learn on the fly. The only real problem I have its doesn't have an open android system like the Onkyo DPX-1 . The Kann limits you to installed subscriptions 2 Chinese which are no good in the U.S. and Tidal . But if you have large music collection this should be a minor thing. Still learning it. I will give another review when I figure out how to fully master it.

Pros: Amazing sound .

Cons: Closed Android system limits the possibilities.

Details

Hands-on research

Product Research

Features

High-Resolution Digital Music Player: Astell & Kern's experience with technology and portable devices makes it possible for the KANN to offer dynamic power and performance. KANN is the complete all-around portable high-resolution digital music player with powerful output and studio quality sound. In addition to a high-resolution digital music player, the Astell & Kern KANN can be used an external USB DAC. 

AK4490 Single DAC: The Astell & Kern KANN is equipped with a AK4490 Single DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for 32-bit/382kHz PCM audio playback and native DSD playback up to 11.2mHz.

Femto Clock: The Astell & Kern KANN uses a voltage-controlled crystal oscillator (VCXO) high-precision clock with a reference jitter value of 200 femtoseconds. Femto clocks are typically used in high-end audio components. The clock is measured in femtosecond units (one quadrillionth of a second -- or 1/1000 trillion) which allows the device to create a more accurate frequency value and make fine jitter corrections. Typical clock jitter in the KANN is measured at 30 picoseconds (or 30/1-trillionth).

Built-in Memory + External Storage: The KANN has a built-in 64GB internal flash memory for downloading and storing you digital music files. You can also insert a microSD card (up to 256GB) and full-size SD card (up to 512GB) in the memory card slots on the bottom of the device for additional storage capacity (up to 768GB), for a total maximum storage capacity of 832GB. The memory cards should be formatted in FAT32.

Media File Transfer: You can download digital music files from your Windows PC or Mac computer to the Astell & Kern KANN through its micro-C USB port and the included micro-C to USB cable.

  • Supported Audio Formats: The KANN is capable of download and playback of high resolution digital music files up to 32-bit/382kHz; including FLAC, WAV, ALAC, and AIFF. It also supports playback of DSD music files up to 11.2mHz. In addition, the KANN will support highly compressed music files such as MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, and APE.
  • Computer Requirements: The KANN is compatible with Windows 7, 8, or 10 (32-bit or 64-bit versions of each). It also support Mac OS X 10.7 and up. Mac users need to download and install the MTP program from the Astell&Kern website.

USB DAC: The USB DAC functionality allows the KANN to be recognized as a sound card on a computer. The KANN's micro-B USB port is connected to a free USB port on your Windows PC or Mac computer (cable not included); the music from your computer is then played through the KANN's earphones port for an enhanced listening experience. This USB DAC connection bypasses the inferior soundcard of your computer or laptop and uses the KANN as the USB DAC for better sound quality. It supports playback of PCM (8-384kHz; 8/16/24/32-bit) and DSD (2.8/5.6/11.2MHz) high resolution music files, providing much richer sound through superior ambience and resolution way beyond the limits of the embedded soundcard of your computer.

  • Computer Requirements: Compatible with Windows PC and Mac computer
    • Windows PC: XP (32/64-bit), 7 (32/64-bit), 8 (32/64-bit), and 10 (32/64-bit)
    • Mac OS: OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later
  • Supported Music Files:
    • PCM: sampling rate of 8-384kHz; bit depth of 8, 16, 24, or 32-bit
    • DSD: sampling rate of 2.8, 5.6, 11.2MHz; bit depth of 1-bit
Notes: When using the KANN as a USB DAC, its PEQ settings are not applied.

Balanced & Unbalanced Output: The Astell & Kern KANN is outfitted with a 2.5mm balanced headphone output (L+/L-/R+/R-) and a 3.5mm unbalanced headphone output (L+/R+/GND) for connection with a variety of headphones.

  • 2.5mm Balanced Jack: The KANN features a 2.5-mm/4-pole balanced output for connection with compatible balanced earphones & headphones. This type of connection requires that you connect your compatible headphones to both the unbalanced port (ground) and balanced audio port (L/R) of the KANN. Unlike the unbalanced type, the balanced output type is capable of removing noise (common mode noise) that can occur in "signal + inverting amplifier signal" and has the strength of increasing output due to its double transmitting signals.
  • 3.5mm Unbalanced Jack: The KANN also features a 3.5-mm/3-pole unbalanced output that offers compatibility with a variety of HiFi earphones and headphones. The 3.5mm headphone jack doubles as an mini optical digital output with a fixed volume level.

Built-In WiFi: The KANN features built-in 2.4GHz WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) which allows you to connect to your home's WiFi network wirelessly with support for AK Connect & DLNA.

  • AK Connect: The KANN comes equipped with the AK Connect feature that can be connected with network-ready Astell & Kern devices and speakers (sold separately).  It will wirelessly output its sound through Astell & Kern speakers (sold separately).
  • DLNA Compliant: It is also appointed with wireless networking DLNA (Ver. 1.0), which makes it easy to work with NAS/PC on the same network and through an AK Connect app on your Apple iOS 7.1+ or Android OS 3.0 device. The KANN can access and play back music files stored on a computer on the same wireless network.
Note: Firmware/software updates are done over the KANN's WiFi network connection.

Bluetooth Transmitter: The KANN has built-in Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting a Bluetooth speaker, headphone, or receiver so you can listen to your digital music files wirelessly. In addition to support for the standard Bluetooth SBC codec, the KANN offers support for aptX allowing CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz) wireless audio playback for Bluetooth speakers, headphones, and receivers that also support aptX.

Note: DSD playback is not available via Bluetooth, and performance may be limited for high-res playback; 48 kHz or lower resolution is recommended). Car audio Bluetooth connections are not supported.

USB Audio Out: The KANN can be connected to the USB audio input of an AV receiver or integrated amplifier using an OTG cable (sold separately). The KANN can output PCM music files to your receiver or amp. It can also transfer DSD in native through DoP, or convert DSD into PCM for output to amplifiers that do not support DoP.

User Interface: The Astell & Kern KANN features a high-quality user interface to make it easy to find and select your music files, change the volume, and adjust the sound:

  • 4" LCD Touchscreen: The full-color 4" LCD touchscreen has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The screen displays the title and artist of the currently playing song, along with elapsed and remaining time, with the album art in the background. You can make adjustments to the EQ, set the repeat and random modes, and add the song to a playlist, all using the touchscreen interface. 
  • Rotary Wheel: The KANN has a side-mounted rotary wheel for volume control.
  • Hardware Control Buttons: There are five physical buttons on the player (four on the front-panel and one on the top). The top-panel button is for power. The four front-panel buttons include Home/Menu, Play/Pause, Skip Forward, and Skip Backward.

20-band Parametric EQ: The KANN features a parametric EQ and an audio DSP to allow you to make detailed adjustments in the original sound to suit your tastes. The DSP takes the existing 10-band graphic equalizer found in the KANN with ±0.5dB adjustments and upgrades it to a 20-band EQ with ±0.1dB adjustments, plus variable gain and Q values. You can set the EQ curve by simply "drawing" the curve on the touchscreen. The EQ frequency bands include: 30Hz, 45Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, 180Hz, 250Hz, 380Hz, 500Hz, 750Hz, 1kHz, 1.5kHz, 2kHz, 3kHz, 4kHz, 6kHz, 8kHz, 12kHz, 14kHz, and 18kHz. You can adjust the gain from -5dB to +5dB in 0.1dB increments, and the Q from 0.1 to 4.0dB in 0.1dB increments. If you choose not to activate the Parametric EQ, you can use the Pro EQ presets recommended by professionals.

Gapless Playback: Gapless Playback allows you to play the next song without any interruptions or silence. Gapless playback is only supported between two audio files with identical bit rates, sample rates, and channels.

Power Requirements: The KANN is equipped with a rechargeable Lithium-Polymer battery (6200mAh/3.7V). The battery charges via USB in about 8 hours using a USB port on your computer or about 4 hours using a USB/AC power adapter (sold separately). A 39" micro-C to USB cable is included to connect the player to your charging device. A fully charged battery can provide up to approximately 15 hours of continuous playback time.

Note: The maximum 15-hour continuous play is based on 16-bit/44 kHz, FLAC file format, screen off, 50% of volume, and Normal playback.

Extruded Aluminum Construction: The design of the KANN stands apart from Astell&Kern's other product lines. During assembly, the parts are slid into the aluminum extruded body, and the unique, no-joint design delivers a durable yet sleek appearance. A protective film is included to protect the LCD touchscreen.

Optional CD Ripper (Sold Separately): The KANN can be expanded to a variety of devices through the micro-USB and balanced audio out ports located at the bottom of the player. It can be connected to Astell & Kern's CD-RIPPER to conveniently rip audio CD (all devices sold separately).

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

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Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

sound quality [ David  Jun 20, 2017 ]
Reviews seem very positive with regards to this device. [ Colin  Jun 09, 2017 ]
Hi-fidelity player with built-in amplifier. From all the research I did, this is clearly the best device on the market. [ DONALD  Oct 25, 2017 ]

1 question already asked

You can use it without blue tooth. You can connect it by the 3.5 mm output or the 2.5 unbalanced output . I use either of these in my vehicle when using my Kann.This allows me to keep my Bluetooth free for my phone. [ Brian  Nov 11, 2017 ]
Yes, you just need a male-to-male headphone connection that you'll plug into your music system's Aux port. [ DONALD  Nov 11, 2017 ]
Yes. I run the 2 volt unbalanced into the aux in on my car. [ W  Nov 11, 2017 ]
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