Hey, Ricky from Moon Audio here. Today we’re going
to be taking a look at the latest in Astell&Kern’s
KANN lineup, the KANN Alpha music player. The
goal of the KANN line has always been to provide
ultra-high power output to drive any headphones
or IEMs. The KANN Alpha packs a lot of power,
and that power comes at the cost of weight.
This is a heavy music player. The first thing
you’ll notice is that the Alpha is much smaller
than the previous KANN Cube. This is especially
impressive considering the fact that the Alpha
has the same power output as the Cube. The KANN
Alpha supports 12 rms voltage, or vrms, output,
the same as the Cube. More than 60 parts were
miniaturized throughout the development process,
and Astell&Kern also rearranged various components
through circuit optimization. It’s quite
impressive when you see the size difference
from the Cube to the Alpha. We tested this with
a variety of headphones from the Audeze LCD-1,
the HIFIMAN Ananda, the Meze Empyrean, and even
the Focal Utopia. The KANN Alpha had no issues
powering even the most power-hungry headphones.
Let’s talk about one of the highlights of the KANN
Alpha, the 4.4-millimeter headphone jack. Along
with the 2.5 and 3.5-millimeter headphone jacks,
the Alpha includes the brand new 4.4-millimeter
we wanted on a portable music player for a long
time. The connection is just more robust, and
we get issues all the time with the 2.5-millimeter
connections for DAPs, especially when people carry
them around in their pockets. Astell&Kern has
physically separated the 2.5 and 4.4-millimeter
outputs using micro relays, meaning that outputs
not being used are switched off and can’t create
any additional noise or interference. Another nice
update is that the Alpha supports Bluetooth 5.0.
5.0 has been out for some time now, and it’s
really nice to see that it’s being implemented
in the latest music players from Astell&Kern.
The latest Bluetooth version provides great
sound quality, faster transmission speeds,
and greater range compared to Bluetooth 4.2.
LDAC and aptX HD codecs are also supported for
high-resolution audio. The Alpha is configured
with a new independent right and left channel
circuit design which minimizes channel crosstalk.
The DAP has superb measurements in this regard
with great separation between channels and a
deeper and wider sense of space. In our review for
the KANN Alpha, we talk about the fact that the
Alpha uses the same dual DAC chips as the SE200.
However, don’t think that they sound exactly the
same. The way the SE200 was designed, the 9068AS
chips were great for more analytical listening,
whereas the AKM DAC chip gave you a great option
for warmer and more musical listening experiences.
The Alpha is the best of both worlds, right smack
in the middle, giving you more warmth than the
SE200 design of the 9068AS chip but with a single
configuration. Like the SE200, the Alpha includes
options for DAC filters which allow you to
fine-tune your sound profile. The technological
advancements made to the Alpha has also given
it an average of 14 to 15 hours of battery life,
whereas the Cube only gets about eight to ten. The
KANN Alpha doesn’t make the Cube obsolete, but it
gives the consumer the option for a more portable
powerhouse that can actually be pocketed. The Cube
is going to be your office or home option, whereas
the Alpha should be more like your daily commuter.
With extended battery life, a smaller size,
added DAC filters, a great sounding DAC,
the KANN Alpha might be the new DAP to beat in
terms of the combination of sheer power and number
of features. Be sure to check out our review
of the KANN Alpha, which we’ll link to below.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any
questions, and, as always, thanks for watching.