Disclaimer: The Astell&Kern AK KANN was sent to us directly from South-Korea right after it launched. The unit is on loan and will be returned this week to AK.
Astell & Kern no longer needs an introduction. The iRiver owned company over the last years quickly became one of the top players on the DAP market and with this new KANN and the SP1000, they’re guaranteed to stay on top for another year.
Astell’s AK70 DAP won our 2016 DAP award and my personal favorite player still is the gorgeous AK380. I’ve been listening to the new SP1000 though and it looks like that one will take over that spot very soon.
The KANN: Inside, Looks and more
The new KANN DAP was launched in April already and we pretty much got one right away to play with.
Combining a high-quality audio player and a high-performance amplifier
In short, the KANN is an extra powerful and long lasting DAP. It has an amplifier integrated in the design so that it can drive the most difficult IEMs and headphones and with an extra performing battery, it gives you more playtime than ever before.
Lay-out & feel
A lot has been said about the KANN design already but as usual, “liking” something or not is a very personal thing. It’s true that the player – because of integrating the amp and the special battery – is thick and heavy (9.83 oz (278.7 g), there simply is no denying that. I don’t really find it especially heavy myself (wait till you pick up the SS SP1000) but I do agree that it’s thick. Because of that it’s almost impossible to carry around with you in your pants’ pockets, and that’s a shame.
The AK KANN comes in two colors : Astro Silver’ and ‘Eos Blue. As usual AK used top quality materials and the build quality is really great but we don’t expect anything else from AK, or for the price they’re going for. The KANN itself has a beautifully ribbed/waved enclosure and it feels good in the hand.
One player to rule them all
Size wise the AK KANN measures 2.80 ”(71.23 mm) [W] x 4.56 ”(115.8 mm) [H] x 1.01 ”(25.6 mm) [D]. In the end, you – for now – just can’t have it all and AK clearly chose power and battery life over portability. That does make the KANN more transportable than portable and logically it’s a DAP that is easier to use at home. Others that have been using their AK DAP with the slide-on amplifier however are already used to carrying around a brick or using it at as a desktop setup, so at the same time there’s nothing new either.
What is new however is the layout and usability of the KANN, where you before had the buttons on the side of the AK DAPs, AK now put them on the front of the unit. When using the AK KANN on my desktop this doesn’t really bother me but on the go it somehow does. Where you before could control their DAPs with one hand, you now as good as always need 2 hands to switch to the next song while you’re walking around. On the other hand, when you do manage to put the KANN in your pocket, it now is easier pushing the buttons through your pants.
On the front you have the 4inch WVGA (480 x 800) touchscreen and right below that you have the previous, next, home and Play/pause button. On the right side of the ribbed player you’ll find the smooth volume control which fits perfectly into the ribbed design. On the top of the unit you from left to right will find four different outputs: 3.5mm headphone out / 2.5mm balanced headphone out / 3.5mm Line Out and 2.5mm Line Out. Next to that is the small on/off button. On the bottom of the unit you’ll find both the slots for the MicroSD and SD card, the USB-C connector for Data/charging and the Micro-USB connector for Audio.
The AK KANN has an internal memory of 64GB, but this can be easily and flexibly boosted via the unit’s dual memory card slots. KANN supports both standard SD cards and micro SD cards and the memory is expandable up to 768 GB, making it 832GB(!!) with the internal memory included.
If that still isn’t enough music for you than you can always connect to Tidal or connect to you NAS drive using AK Connect.
Battery wise the AK KANN also impresses. Yes, it does take rather long to completely charge the battery but you already get up to 6.5 hours of listening time with a single 1 hour charge through the fast charger. When fully charged, the 6,200mA large capacity battery offers 15 hours of continuous playback!
Using the KANN – battery wise – has been nothing but a pleasure compared to all my other DAPs. Where others run out of battery, the KANN keeps going and if the thickness of the player is the price we have to pay for battery life of this level, I just might be willing to accept that from now on.
It continues on Page two, after the click HERE or the jump below