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The Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Pushes Back

DAPs are dead? The $1299 Astell&Kern KANN MAX portable DAP is thinner in size but offers higher levels of performance.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP

DAPs are dead, right? Don’t mention that to Astell&Kern. They have just announced their fourth portable digital audio player (DAP) in the KANN Series called the KANN MAX. For $1,299, the Astell&Kern KANN MAX boasts a more powerful built-in headphone amplifier, which allows it to drive any headphone, including high-impedance headphones, without the need for a separate amplifier. If you are a user of high-impedance planar or dynamic headphones — this might be the DAP for you.

Update: See our full review of the KANN MAX here! Or continue reading our original news story overview below.

Users can select between four levels of gain — low, mid, high and super gain modes for up to 15 Vrms output to provide the precise output required to drive even the most demanding headphones.  

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Up

As the output increases, so does the noise level. By separately configuring the power supply IC for each Audio Block divided into DAC, Volume, and AMP, KANN MAX is designed to stably supply the power required for each Audio IC. Through this design, the interference ripple noise of the DC-DC power supply (the shaking noise phenomenon that occurs when power is supplied) is removed. The allows the KANN MAX to provide high output with low noise.

The Astell&Kern KANN MAX features ESS ES9038Q2M DACs in a Quad-DAC configuration. By using Quad DACs, one DAC can be fully allocated to one channel, so the depth and realism of the sound source can be expressed to the fullest. KANN MAX supports native 32bit/768kHz and DSD512 playback and full support for MQA.  

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Headphone Jacks

Connection options include a 3.5mm unbalanced, 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced headphone outputs. KANN MAX features Bluetooth 5.0 which features faster transmission speed and greater range compared to Bluetooth 4.2, therefore providing a more stable wireless connection. Both LDAC™ and aptX™ HD are supported to provide audiophiles with 24-bit audio playback wirelessly.

Other features found on KANN MAX include:

  • ReplayGain, which allows the player to automatically adjust the volume between tracks and maintain a consistent playback level.  
  • BT Sink allows KANN MAX to connect to an external device via Bluetooth, and function as a Bluetooth DAC. Music from an external device, such as a smartphone can now be played back in high-quality, taking full advantage of the hi-res audio decoding in the player.
  • With AK File Drop, transferring your music files from a computer or NAS is even easier and more convenient.  Using AK File Drop, you can freely transfer files wirelessly through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network.  Music file management is now possible with a cableless, wireless solution.
Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Front Angle

KANN MAX includes a 4.1-inch 720×1280 HD touchscreen, 64GB of internal memory with support for microSD cards up to 1TB, Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, USB digital audio output, USB-C for data transfer and fast-charge support, and the ability to use KANN MAX as a USB DAC for your Mac or Windows-based PC.  KANN MAX includes support for the most popular music streaming services including Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. 

Roon Ready support will be available via a future firmware update pending testing and certification of the player by Roon Labs.  

Astell&Kern KANN MAX DAP Cases

Price & Availability

KANN MAX will be available in June 2022 at authorized Astell&Kern dealers in the US/Canada for $1,299. For more information:

Three cases for KANN MAX will also be available in June 2022, made of high-quality vegetable leather from CONCERIA WALPIER and BADALASSI CARLO for $149 at Amazon.

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Where to buy: $1,299 at Crutchfield | | |

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ORT

    May 15, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    I must admit that with the new Android and iPhones out there I can find no real reason for a DAP other than I want one.

    I own two (and have given away two more) Echobox Explorers that I got for $100 each from Drop. They look sooooo cool! They play my music just fine and I loaded my Pandora, Amazon Music and SiriusXM onto both of mine in the even I wanted to walk around our home wearing headphones or one of my two Bose Soundwear. I also have them in rotation on one of my small turntable/DAP set ups and they look totally bitchin’ in their matching stand/charging stations.

    People told me I was stupid to buy the Explorers. They said they sucked and that their batter did not last long and they were use less for (UGH!) “streaming”. Wrong on all counts.

    So if you folks out there want one of these sweet looking A&K Kann MAX DAPs, I say fine! It is your life, your money, your happiness and your music. I do not have the money to buy one but that does NOT mean others with the wherewithal and desire should not do so. They look pretty cool too, albeit not nearly as sweet as my Explorers with their wood flask design!

    I am listening to Wes Montgomery’s “Green Peppers” right now. I like music. I bet you do too!


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