The Power House
KANN ALPHA, the third product in the KANN series, which is loved by audiophiles around the world, was designed to solve the problem of providing ultra high power output in a digital audio player, while ensuring a compact design.
While the goal of the Astell&Kern KANN line is to provide high power output to drive any headphone or IEM, KANN ALPHA has not forgotten the essence of being a portable DAP, so you can enjoy a near-perfect sound experience wherever you are.Powerful 12Vrms ultra-high output Complete separation of balanced lines to provide noise-free output Crosstalk of 141dB and top notch audio performance through a new, complete circuit redesign
Astell&Kern’s first DAP with support for 4.4mm balanced output 14 ½ hours of continuous playback Support for the latest version of Bluetooth 5.0 and 24-bit Bluetooth codecs (aptX-HD, LDAC) Artistic design and ultra-precision metal shaping technology perfected by Astell&Kern
Astell&Kern’s First DAP to Feature 4.4mm Balanced Output Port, Completely Noise-Free
The newly introduced feature of the 4.4mm balanced output port is exciting, however, the most important part is how we implemented it.
Unlike other manufacturer’s products, KANN ALPHA has physically separated the 2.5mm and 4.4mm outputs using micro relays.
When 2.5mm and 4.4mm structures are connected to the general mute circuit they do not prevent noise interference that may occur because each signal is not properly blocked.
KANN ALPHA boasts noise-free output because we built in an independent structure that completely blocks interference from outputs that are not being used and to be switched off therefore preventing the noise from occurring.
KANN ALPHA L Channel, R Channel Circuit Design
Other Manufacturer 2.5mm/4.4mm Balanced Circuit Structure
Gold PVD Coating Method
In addition, to minimize contact noise from the output, a gold PVD coating method is applied to the headphone connector instead of the typical rings used by other products. This improves both design and function.
By adopting NDICS' Pentaconn 4.4mm connector, KANN ALPHA not only satisfies the requests of users, but the implementation boasts excellent quality and durability.
The Highest Level of Channel Separation (Crosstalk)
KANN ALPHA boasts excellent performance measurement for crosstalk. Channel crosstalk is how much signal leaking there is between the L and R channels.
The higher the crosstalk number, the better the separation between channels and the deeper and wider the sense of space that can be felt.
As evident with the newly developed audio circuit design, KANN ALPHA features a never before seen Crosstalk measurement of -141dB (high gain), which is unmatched by any other portable audio products in its class.
KANN ALPHA L Channel, R Channel Circuit Design
Powerful 12Vrms Output With 14 ½ Hours of Continuous Playback
KANN ALPHA supports the same powerful 12Vrms output as the existing KANN CUBE, however the player has been optimized to be more compact.
This is achieved through the miniaturization of numerous parts such as resistors and capacitors, by rearranging various components and through circuit optimization. This resulted in the modification of more than 60 parts during the development process.
The new design allows us to provide maximum power output in a smaller, more compact portable device without compromise.
A stable power supply is extremely important with the added power output to not affect the sound of a high resolution audio device.
If vibration or noise is produced when power is supplied to the player, the sound becomes adversely affected by power noise.
Ultra-small tantalum capacitors, which were developed exclusively for Astell&Kern through a collaboration with Matsuo Electric in Japan to meet our high performance requirements, supply stable power to the player and suppress electrical noise.
This redesigned power circuit used in KANN ALPHA also allows us to achieve 14 ½ hours of continuous playback.
*Playback time is based on 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC file, volume level 80, EQ & LCD turned off, amp on low gain setting
Equipped With Bluetooth 5.0 and Support for Wireless 24-Bit aptX-HD, LDAC Codecs
KANN ALPHA is the first Astell&Kern player to use Bluetooth 5.0. The latest Bluetooth version provides high sound quality with the convenience of wireless playback to headphones and IEMs.
Bluetooth 5.0 features faster transmission speed and greater range compared to Bluetooth 4.2, therefore providing a more stable wireless connection.
Both LDAC and aptX HD is supported to provide audiophiles with the best wireless sound possible.
The high-quality sound that Astell&Kern is known for can now be heard when using Bluetooth earphones, headphones, and speakers.
Bluetooth Code Bit-Rate Comparison (kbps)
Bluetooth Version Comparison
*Numbers may vary depending on actual usage conditions.
Customize Your Sound
With KANN ALPHA, you can enjoy the fun of creating your own customized sound by selecting among various DAC filters provided by the DAC manufacturer.
Real-Time Information Confirmed by Light
KANN ALPHA features a LED volume wheel which displays various playback information, including volume level and bit-rate of the track currently playing.
*LED light can be turned on/off according to user settings
Astell&Kern's Unique Manufacturing Technology Taken to a New Level
Astell&Kern products are often compared with art sculptures in that they feature colorful facets and angles that cannot be found in other products. This is accomplished through the use of extremely precise metal manufacturing technology that has been perfected by Astell&Kern over many years.
Like other Astell&Kern DAPs, KANN ALPHA also applies an incredible level of metalworking technology.
The first generation KANN used an extrusion method to form the aluminum body where the KANN ALPHA uses precise metal manufacturing to create a luxurious and detailed design.
Like a sculpture, fine lines enhance the luxury look and feel of the player.
A precision mold is then separately manufactured for the high-gloss ceramic top cover. Astell&Kern then uses more than seven different processes including low-speed machining to form the ceramic top cover and prevent cracking.
Unlike other manufacturers, a ring is not simply inserted into the ceramic top where each audio terminal is located, instead a gold PVD coating is applied to minimize noise. A special coating is also applied to the ceramic surface to prevent fingerprints and smudging.
Astell&Kern's proprietary aluminum body design suppresses noise to improve sound quality, while providing the best signal transmission to the audio circuits. With our laser ground extension technology, you can achieve the best sound possible.
The vibration-free processing machines used by Astell&Kern are the same ones used by expensive Swiss luxury watch manufacturers. This is reflected in the crafting of the volume wheel which is processed precisely like the crown of a luxury watch for the best operating feel.
Independent machining processing is applied to individual areas to create each small pattern.
Most manufacturers say that they know and do metal processing, but Astell&Kern’s years of expertise and special attention to details shows in the final product.
Support for MQA 8x Rendering and MQA-CD
MQA hardware rendering is built into the ES9068AS DACs and supports MQA 8x rendering.
MQA-CD playback is also supported on KANN ALPHA when playing MQA-CDs using the AK CD-Ripper. You now do not need special, expensive equipment to play back master quality audio CDs.
Enjoy the original master sound through the dedicated hardware renderer installed in KANN ALPHA.
MQA and the Sound Wave Device are registered trade marks of MQA Limited. © MQA Limited 2016
Qualcomm® aptX™ HD is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
Qualcomm is a trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated, registered in the United States and other countries.
Qualcomm® aptX™ HD is a trademark of Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., registered in the United States and other countries.
The design of KANN ALPHA shows the beauty from the combination of delicate details and the substantial weight from its powerful performance.
Asymmetric triangles that resemble the identity of Astell&Kern surrounds the volume wheel on the solid, sturdy, bold and column-like body of the player.
Considering the hexagon as an extension of a triangle, we started with the top side of the player based on the hexagon. The altered shape of the top section was created by pressing the hexagon shape together. The subtle change of the hexagonal angles provides a better grip on the KANN ALPHA.
The back side of the wheel protection surface of KANN ALPHA was lifted around the volume control to create a design like the fender of the car, which surrounds the car wheel.
Just like the fender's ability to block the sand, stone and mud that pops up when driving a rugged and strong off-road vehicle, the fender on the player protects the volume wheel of the strong, powerful KANN ALPHA.
A gold PVD coating line was added to the ceramic surface around the 4.4mm balanced output. The gold coating minimizes contact noise from output and also adds a beautiful contrast to the all black finish.
This gold PVD coating is also applied to the 2.5mm and 3.5mm outputs to create an overall sense of unity.
Package contents include:
- KANN ALPHA Device x 1
- USB Type-C Cable x 1
- Quick Start Guide x 1
- Warranty Card x 1
- microSD Card Slot Cover x 2
- Protective Film (Front x 2, Back x 2)
KANN ALPHA User Guide
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - English
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - Japanese
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - Russian
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - French
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - German
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - Chinese (Simplified)
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - Chinese (Traditional)
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - Spanish
- KANN ALPHA User Guide - Korean
KANN ALPHA MAC OS Driver
KANN ALPHA is compatible with MAC OS X 10.7 and up. In order for a Mac computer to communicate with our device a MTP program will need to be installed.
How to install the program for file transfer:
- Disconnect Device from PC
- Download the file transfer driver at Android File Transfer site: http://www.android.com/filetransfer
- Install the file downloaded according to the provided directions on website.
- After successful installation, connect the device with the computer.
KANN ALPHA USB DAC Driver
Driver File: KANN ALPHA USB DAC Driver
- This is an integrated USB Audio driver for AK Devices. The previous USB DAC driver will need to be deleted from the AK Device prior to installing the new driver. To delete the previous driver, connect the AK Device to the computer and the previous Driver can be located in the "Contents" folder.
- This driver is for Windows 7/8/8.1/10 (32/64bit). For MAC OS, the driver is automatically recognized without needing to be manually installed.
- Once the driver is installed for Windows PC, the device will be recognized automatically.
- To use the AK Device USB Audio as the default device, you may need to change the default output device option in the computer's Settings Menu.
- For high quality sound playback on Windows PC, it is recommended to change the default format to "24-bit, 192000Hz" for the AK Device in the Control Panel - Sound menu.
- For Native DSD playback, the music playback program must also be capable of Native DSD playback. Depending on the music playback program, you may need to change the audio device to AK Device USB Audio in Settings menu.
- For more information on using USB Audio, please refer to the AK Device's product manual.
How to Install the Driver
- Click the Download button on this page to download the USB DAC driver for your Windows computer. After running "setup.exe" file, click the [Next >] button.
- The installer will display the path of the driver to be installed.
- Click the [Install] button in the installer to complete the installation.
- When the installation is complete, the AK Device's USB DAC device driver is automatically installed. Click [Next >] → [Finish] button of the installer to complete the installation.
- Connect the AK Device in USB DAC mode to listen to music.