The AK380 as said uses the same DAC chip but in a double configuration. Fact is that it doesn’t sound like the KANN and its sound quality just is a lot better. For the price, it of course should be. The AK380 is more neutral, cleaner, faster, more precise and more detailed. In short, it has that typical audiophile tuning while the KANN has a warmer, musical tuning. The AK70 to me sounds more lively and it has better clarity and precision. The AK70 is also a musical sounding DAP but its presentation is less smooth, making the detail better audible. The AK70 is more precise with more detail and a better separation. The voices sound more natural than how the KANN is doing them. It’s clear that the 2016 DAP of the year performs better looking purely at sound quality. Their UI is about the same but KANN does have the unbeatable battery and power delivery. And then there’s the USB-C, Line-out volume setting, etc.
The Fiio X5III sounds more clear than KANN but it also has more noise in the back. The Fiio X5III, just like KANN, has a smoother kind of presentation as well. The X5iii’s top end is more detailed and extended. KANN’s bass is a tad bigger, voices sound thicker and more forward but K’s layering and depth do is better. The X5iii is very versatile as its running a customizable Android version. KANN however easily wins on power, UI and battery life. Fiio’s X7 with the balanced AM3 module in place, just like its little brother has more noise from the balanced output. The sound is a little cleaner and more clear with better detail in the upper mids and treble (compared to KANN). KANN’ (bass) body is a little bigger, but the X7’s treble does extend further. The X7 has a more balanced sound from bass to treble. The voices in both DAPs are very much alike.
Unfortunately the Luxury & Precision L5PRO doesn’t have a balanced output but it still easily is one of the very best sounding players I’ve ever heard. The KANN beats the L&P L5PRO in all possible ways except for one: pure sound quality. If you just want the very best sound, check out L&P. If you care about UI, firmware, etc, the L&P players for now, aren’t the ones for you. The Cayin i5 is a tad tighter and faster than the KANN. The i5’s sound is cleaner and the detail level is about the same as KANN’s, but the i5’s upper mids and treble are more extended. The i5’s sound is a little more “in your face”, bass reaches lower but the voices are very much alike. Of all the players I tried the i5 comes closes to KANN’s sound signature, it’s just a bit cleaner and extended the higher you go.
I was surprised to see I liked the Sennheiser HD800 most with the amp set to Normal when using the balanced output. Not only does KANN have enough power in Normal mode, it actually also allows a better volume setting as the High mode gets too loud too quickly. The HD800 certainly doesn’t sound bad straight out of the KANN, but I’ll have a desktop amp like the LaFigaro 339 or the Auris HA2-SE over KANN anyday.
KANN certainly had no issue whatsoever driving the Kennerton Odin with the amp level set to Normal. Bass in the Odin isn’t the tightest but that’s not Kann’s fault. You get a very musical and big bodied sound with a smooth presentation. Treble is very soft though. I sometimes find the Hifiman HE-1000V2 to sound a little bright but with the KANN there’s no such feeling and of all the full sized high end headphones I tried with the KANN, the HE1000V2 easily is my favourite. Great bass, a lovely airy presentation, good extension and a very natural sound with sublime vocals.
I really love the synergy between the PlusSound Prism, a dual BA driven 3-D printed universal IEM. Bass has full body and good impact and the mids are rich with very natural sounding (yet slightly forward) voices. Treble logically is a little softer but the Prism is lively and energetic enough, so it has some margin.
The custom Warbler Prelude has great extension and clarity but this isn’t my favorite combination because of the voices being a little too sharp for my preference. You do get a clean sound with a very good level of detail, where bass is nicely present. The mids are a little more in the back and because of that the voices draw a little too much attention to them. I really like this 1-driver custom, but the KANN isn’t its ideal source.
The VE ZEN 2.0 is notorious for being hard to drive, the KANN however does it perfectly fine in Normal mode and I have to say I absolutely love this combination, like if they were made for each other. KANN delivers the body, bass and musicality and the ZEN the detail, spacious sound and lovely extension. Try it! Audeze’s iSine 20 is very easy to drive and like the ZEN, this combination is really good. In fact the iSine sounds excellent with about anything. The combinations delivers precision, detail and musicality with the perfect amount of bass and very natural voices. The iSine 20, best IEM of the year?
If this is your first experience with a high end DAP, the KANN will blow you away with its detail, spacious sound and musical presentation. KANN certainly is good but I personally still prefer the AK70 and the TOTL models sound wise. This is the first DAP however with excellent battery life, more power than you’ll ever need and it even has an adjustable output volume. For $999 that simply is an incredible (portable) package.
KANN’s full SPECS can be found on Page Four