Astell&Kern aims for power users with Kann Alpha digital audio player
If you've got cash to burn and you like your digital audio players to be chunky, angular and capable, Astell&Kern is probably already on your radar. The new Kann Alpha ticks all of those boxes and more.
The third product in the Kann performance line, the Alpha features an integrated headphone amplifier that's reported powerful enough to drive the most demanding audiophile cans, so you won't need to splash extra cash on a separate amp.
Listeners can choose between low, mid and high gain modes for precision power delivery, and it boasts the same 12-V rms output over a balanced connection as the previous Kann player – the Cube – but is reported to be the first player from Astell&Kern to come with a completely noise-free 4.4-mm balanced headphone output. The company also says that its 141-dB crosstalk measurement is unmatched by any other portable player in its class.
The Alpha is wrapped in a noise-suppressing aluminum body, is powered by a quad-core processor, features two ES9068AS digital-to-analog converters arranged in dual mono configuration, runs a custom version of Android 9 with support for Android APK, and offers a per charge battery life of 14.5 hours. Navigation and control is undertaken using a 4.1-inch, 720 x 1,280 touchscreen out front, and there's 64 GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded by up to 1 TB thanks to the included microSD slot.
It comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cooked in, and is said to be the first player from the company to feature Bluetooth 5.0, which offers greater wireless connection stability and improved range together with support for 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC codecs for high resolution content streaming.
Supported services include Amazon Music, Apple Music, Audible, Deezer, Spotify and SiriusXM. There's also support for Master Quality Authenticated playback of MQA audio files stored on the player itself, or though the Tidal app, and the Alpha is capable of playing PCM files up to 32-bit/384-kHz resolution as well as DSD256 files.
The 2.68 x 4.6 x .098-in (68.3 x 117 x 25-mm), 11.14-oz (316-g) player includes the same kind of volume knob as the A&futura SE200 player, where a color-coded LED ring informs the user of volume level, file type and bitrate.
The Kann Alpha will go on sale from next month for US$1,099. The video below has more.
Product page: Kann Alpha