Astell & Kern’s KANN is befuddling on many levels. While we’ve seen them offer (more) reasonably priced, but essentially stripped down versions of their high-end players, KANN bucks the trend completely.
Granted, it is still an expensive player no matter how you look at it, but the fact is this player offers much of the technical specs that their more expensive players have, and more. It also has the largest battery ever fitted into an A&K player: 6,200mAh is amazingly huge, even when compared to the competition. This also means the KANN is amazingly huge as well, and perhaps that’s how they intend to differentiate it from their regular range. The KANN looks more functional and doesn’t have the same air of refinement.
Mind you, it’s still very well made, and is probably the bargain buy from the brand. It still has that distinct A&K sound and feels almost like a stripped down AK380. Apologies in advance – you don’t buy the KANN expecting it to sound like an AK380, but it is detailed, warm and engaging enough to justify its price; but it’s the other features that KANN brings to the table that makes it a unique proposition.
And my, are they extensive. It can play up to 32-bit/384kHz files, making it future-proof. In addition to the 64GB of storage, it is expandable to 832GB via an SD and microSD slot. It matches well with many headphones, and it offers you the choice of 2.5mm balanced outputs too. It has a USB-C port which supports fast data transfer – a must for high-resolution audio – and the battery lasts for about 13 hours or so with a single charge. Also, there’s Wi-Fi and DLNA support, and you can stream Tidal tracks if you wish. The only downside is that the 4-inch screen is anaemic and the operating system is slightly laggy. But it hardly diminishes its list of positives.
It’s pricey, but audiophiles will no doubt agree that if you have this amount to spend it’s perfectly OK to buy the KANN – it was probably created to shake up the market for audio players in this price bracket. The combination of sound quality and features for the price is a nice surprise, and we are the beneficiaries.