Author Topic: Astell & Kern KANN  (Read 1003 times)

Offline Wolvebain

Astell & Kern KANN
« on: August 18, 2018, 10:58:13 AM »

Last night I finally got to unwrap and use my my A&K KANN DAP that was delivered to my home earlier this week, when I was in the Cape for work.


On initially listening, I could tell it is not a reference DAP... but oh, so musical!
From the reviews of others, I knew this, and it was a selling point for me and my use case: using it at client sites, out-and-about.  Definitely not situations that I can do critical listening or pure music focused listening.

Next aspect I tested was the interoperability of it within my setup.  Roon doesn't do DLNA, but my LMS server plays well with it.  Making the envisioned next use case possible; The KANN as my BT source to the pair of Sony SRS-XB20 speakers at my CPT apartment, driven my LMS on my Pi.
 

Now, for the sound...
The Kann is not perfect.. I'm a reference person.. and as I mentioned earlier, I could tell from first listening it's definitely not ref...  It is, however, very musical :)
Since I still need to re-wire my 2.5mm TRRS to 4-pin female XLR adapter for the A&K pin-outs, the impressions given below (from my whatsapp chat) are from the single-ended output only, and via my Shure SE846 and Sennheiser  HD650.

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Very impressed with the Kann.. smooth, detailed, great stereo imaging.. Case and point, playing R.E.M's Tongue from their Monster album, to single-ended HD650 headies...
The song's initially starts with light tambourine, then melodic piano intro that spans and sweeps between the left and right channel...  The Kann does this so very well!
The song then builds, adding more instruments... ,  soft singing of Stipe, then drums, bass, guitar, bongo drums, synth/organ.. and some harmonizing backing vocals sweeping in at times... all whilst the piano melody continues...

The Kann plays it so very well, with all the layered timbre of the song... and that's on my HD650...

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BTW.. listening to the DSD version of Satriani's 'Strange Beautiful Music' album...
DAP does a good job here too... There is a noticeable slowness in the HF, that works well with songs like Sleep Walk and You Saved My Life... but removes the edge in certain fast paced sections of songs like Chords Of Life.. still very musical tho, north of 'warm'.. but that could also be the HD650 and the single-ended connection...

I'll update this thread when I'm wired for the HD800S, LCD-4, etc. and when my 512Gb SD card and 2.5mm MMCX cable from Amazon arrives.
Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war...

Offline canman1971

Re: Astell & Kern KANN
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2018, 03:58:57 PM »
Congrats on the DAP  :thumbs:

Offline Wolvebain

Re: Astell & Kern KANN
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2018, 11:34:16 PM »
Thanks.. it's pretty awesome :2thumbs:

Bit of an update on the Kann...  not much, as I have been using it A LOT as a source for my HD650, Shure SE846 and Shure SRH1540's... I love it!!!
I did test out the balanced 2.5mm output of the KANN on my LCD-4 and HD800S's yesterday evening... bit under whelming as I'm used to so much more from these headies on my NOS11 (with and without my LD mk6+)
Below are the comments I made yesterday in the Centurion Headphone WhatsApp Group:
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It does provide an additional layer of clarity, and the 'presence'  is definitely more.. bass, in particular

It really shows how the HD650's can shine...
The HD800S on the other hand, shows the limitations of the DAP.

Same with the LCD-4

Separation and detail is still great... its the HF delay, over-emphasized focus, that slows things down.

And finally  ;)
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Eager to hear Adam's R2R2000....


As a USB DAC, it's AWESOME too!!
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Works great as a USB DAC..
:D
The DAP / DAC has more than enuff power to drive 300Ω headies too.. Nice for an all-in-one DAC/DAP +HeadAmp combo

It's not perfect.. but it sounds great!
Love the fact that I can use it as a DAP and USB DAC, both with using the built-in amp to enjoy and push really hard to drive headies...

Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war...

Offline canman1971

Re: Astell & Kern KANN
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2018, 06:54:07 AM »
Thanks.. it's pretty awesome :2thumbs:

Bit of an update on the Kann...  not much, as I have been using it A LOT as a source for my HD650, Shure SE846 and Shure SRH1540's... I love it!!!
I did test out the balanced 2.5mm output of the KANN on my LCD-4 and HD800S's yesterday evening... bit under whelming as I'm used to so much more from these headies on my NOS11 (with and without my LD mk6+)
Below are the comments I made yesterday in the Centurion Headphone WhatsApp Group:
And finally  ;)

As a USB DAC, it's AWESOME too!!
It's not perfect.. but it sounds great!
Love the fact that I can use it as a DAP and USB DAC, both with using the built-in amp to enjoy and push really hard to drive headies...

Welcome to the high-end DAP brigade  :giggle:  TOTL DAPs do offer a a different (intimate listening experience), short signal path, battery power, give it some run in time  :), try out some snake oil - on HD800 and HEKV2 im down to 700mm cabling.

R2R2000:

SQ is bliss however you would not be impressed by UI - doubt the UI is more than 10mb, its very minimalistic like Hi-End HiFi out of late 90s and 2000s.

My findings are as follows and a guide for others:

On the warranty card there is a down load link for windows to use the R2R2000 as a USB DAC and the manual. On Mac this was not required as it picks up the kernel immediately on plug-in, furthermore on Mac you can disable the power at the USB port therefore no data signal and power (charging) within the same cable.

I used experience and electronic common sense for the below:

Before use without in-ear or headphones connected:

1. Select balanced output or single ended via UI (very important - high speed transistor circuit is enabled or disabled, this is audible from the device when placed next to your ear), power down the unit and re-power with IEMs / Headphones connected the volume on UI will show 12 - meaning full current / voltage draw on class A OPAMPs (to stabilize the output stages for peak performance)
2. Do not unplug and plug headphones on the fly when the unit is on - power down and take note of the SE or Balanced setting on the UI.

I am of the opinion that not adhering to the above will cause irreparable damage, shorting out 3.5mm trrs balanced output with a 3,5mm SE jack will blow the output stage and a chain reaction would blow the PCM1704K DACs as these are current output to OPAMPs.

Other:

1. I use Mac to charge the unit / clean battery power charging, not chargers.
2. The unit takes 1hr to charge, 8 hours playback on HE1000V2.
3. When not in use / one click the power on button, the unit will go into standby mode (keeps DACs powered and shuts down output stage), standby is 35hr on a full charge.
4. When loading music files on microSD remove album artwork from the file - some of the HDtracks files have a rather large PDF booklet attached to the album - the R2R2000 will show non supported file format should these not be removed.
5. Absolutely no loss on 24/96 files over BlueTooth.
6. 3.5mm SE, 3.5mm Balanced, 4.4mm Balanced line out option as stand alone USB DAC on battery power or USB DAC on charge.

Finally:

This is the one liner received from Texas Instruments who bought out Burr Brown: The "old" chip cannot be produced one to one without design changes.