Astell&Kern KANN Alpha Music Player Review

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 

/> balanced headphone jack. This is something that  
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.

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