Astell&Kern Kann Max
Astell&Kern reveals the Kann Max portable digital audio player (DAP), the 4th model in its acclaimed Kann series. By applying advanced design and audio technology, this newfound power is also housed in a more compact and lightweight chassis. The result is an even wider variety of headphones, including sophisticated high impedance models, can be optimally driven without the need for additional amplification. Music fans can experience the original studio-quality sound without compromise - anywhere, anytime. As the power output increases, so does the noise level that adversely affects the audio performance. Through innovative integrated circuit design, Astell&Kern is able to achieve a low noise level while hitting the new 15Vrms 'Super' output setting.
First, analog volume control is applied to deliver a rich dynamic range without any loss. Next, the power supply integrated circuit for each audio section (divided into DAC, volume, and amp) is separately configured so the interference ripple noise caused by the DC-DC power supply (the shaking noise phenomenon that occurs when power is supplied) is removed. Audio noise that can be heard amplified like audio sound in the operational amp is also minimized. Lastly, by dividing a printed circuit board (PCB) the same size as the larger Kann ALPHA into 12 layers, the smaller physical size of the Kann Max is achieved.
The Kann Max is the first player in the Kann series to be equipped with four ES9038Q2M DACs for high-output performance. By employing Quad DACs - one DAC can each be fully allocated to four individual amp channels - the depth and realism of the sound source can be expressed to the fullest. Combined with Astell&Kern's amplifier circuit technology that naturally and delicately raises the strengths of the DAC, its precise decoding capabilities deliver the original studio-quality sound without distortion.
The Kann Max also plays files up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512, while supporting 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm headphones connections for accommodating a greater variety of headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM). In order to minimize contact noise from the output jacks, a gold PVD coating method is applied to the headphone connector instead of the typical rings employed by other products. This improves both design and function. The Kann Max also adds Replay Gain functionality to the mix. This automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.
The result of extensive research and development, Astell&Kern's patented Teraton Alpha sound solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound. It effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analog signal conversion (DAC) takes place - audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.
A BT Sink function connects the Kann Max to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the player. Elsewhere the Kann Max boasts Bluetooth 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality. Alongside Wi-Fi support, the Kann Max features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program on the same network to make music management even more convenient.
Although smaller, all power-related components and the power circuit have been developed to achieve 13 hours of continuous playback. The Kann Max harbors 64GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can carry thousands of hi-res albums with them at all times. Continuing the bold design concept of the Kann series, this player boasts a more streamlined profile, emphasized by the hexagonal top line that narrows sharply from the bottom up, and the hairline treatment on the back that expresses both a sense of speed and power. The Astell&Kern Kann Max is priced at £1,199/$1,300/€1,499. Info and photos by Astell&Kern.