Astell&Kern’s new KANN MAX high-resolution digital audio player achieves a higher power output in a more compact design

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, reveals the KANN MAX portable digital audio player (DAP), the 4th model in its acclaimed KANN series. Adored by audiophiles all over the world for its performance focused on high output and ultra-clear sound, the KANN MAX achieves a higher power output (15Vrms) than its award-winning predecessor, theKANN ALPHA.

By applying advanced design and audio technology, this newfound power is also housed in a more compact and lightweight chassis. The result is an even wider variety of headphones, including sophisticated high impedance models, can be optimally driven without the need for additional amplification. Music fans can experience the original studio-quality sound without compromise – anywhere, anytime.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX key features at a glance:

  • Features 4-step gain level with maximum 15Vrms output to support a wider variety of headphones without distortion
  • Innovative circuit design with ultra-high output and low noise in an even smaller-sized player
  • Equipped with ESS ES9038Q2M Quad-DAC for exceptionally clear and balanced sound
  • Features proprietary TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology
  • Supports playback of high-resolution digital audio files up to 32-bit 768 kHz/Native DSD512
  • Bluetooth 5.0 and 24-bit wireless codec (aptX™ HD, LDAC) support
  • Replay Gain function uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

Innovative circuit design = low noise levels

As the power output increases, so does the noise level that adversely effects the audio performance. Through innovative integrated circuit design, Astell&Kern is able to achieve a low noise-level while hitting the new 15Vrms ‘Super’ output setting.

First, an analogue volume controller is applied to deliver a rich dynamic range without any loss. Next, the power supply integrated circuit for each audio section (divided into DAC, volume, and amp) is separately configured so the interference ripple noise caused by the DC-DC power supply (the shaking noise phenomenon that occurs when power is supplied) is removed. Audio noise that can be heard amplified like audio sound in the operational amp is also minimised. Lastly, by dividing a printed circuit board (PCB) the same size as the larger KANN ALPHA into 12 layers, the smaller physical size of the KANN MAX is achieved.

Quad DAC and playback

The KANN MAX is the first player in the KANN series to be equipped with four ES9038Q2M DACs for a high-output performance. By employing Quad DACs – one DAC can each be fully allocated to four individual amp channels – the depth and realism of the sound source can be expressed to the fullest.

Combined with Astell&Kern’s amplifier circuit technology that naturally and delicately raises the strengths of the DAC, its precise decoding capabilities delivers the original studio-quality sound without distortion.

The KANN MAX also plays files up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512, while supporting 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphones connections for accommodating a greater variety of headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM). In order to minimise contact noise from the output jacks, a gold PVD coating method is applied to the headphone connector instead of the typical rings employed by other products. This improves both design and function.

The KANN MAX also adds Replay Gain functionality to the mix. This automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

KANN MAX featuring TERATON ALPHA technology

The result of extensive research and development, Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound.  It effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion (DAC) takes place – audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.


A BT Sink function connects the KANN MAX to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the player. Elsewhere the KANN MAX boasts Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

Alongside Wi-Fi support, the KANN MAX features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient.

Battery and storage

Although smaller in size, all power-related components and the power circuit been developed to achieve 13 hours of continuous playback. The KANN MAX harbours 64GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can carry thousands of hi-res albums with them at all times.

Powerful streamlined design

Continuing the bold design concept of the KANN series, this player boasts a more streamline profile, emphasised by the hexagonal top line that narrows sharply from the bottom up, and the hairline treatment on the back that expresses both a sense of speed and power.

The Astell&Kern KANN MAX is priced £1,199 / $1,300 / €1,499 and is available mid-June 2022 from

The Astell&Kern KANN MAX cases come in three colours: black, blue and beige, priced £109 / $110 / €129 and are mid-June 2022 from

General Specifications

Body Colour: Anthracite Gray

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280 touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample Rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 768kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1bit 11.2MHz)
  • DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level:

  • [Low] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load),
  • [Mid] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load),
  • [High] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load),
  • [Super] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 15Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9038Q2M x4 (Quad-DAC)

Decoding: Supports up to 32-bit/768kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback

Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & MAC)


  • Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Optical Out (3.5mm)
  • Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported | 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 2.68-inches (68.3mm)[W] x 4.6-inches (117mm)[H] x 0.92-inches (23.6mm)[D]

Weight: about 10.76oz (305g)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Audio specifications*

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.026dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) –
  • Balanced
±0.035dB (Condition:20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.072dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced


  • 114dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced


  • -124dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • -135dB @ 1kHz, Balanced


  • 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Balanced


  • 0.0007% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced
  • 0.0007% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Output Impedance:

  • Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1ohm)
  • Balanced Out 2.5mm (1.6ohm), 4.4mm (1.6ohm)

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

*Audio specifications based on Low Gain.

Storage capacity

Built-in Memory: 64GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)


Capacity: 5,600mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 3.5 hours (9V 1.67A Fast Charging) | 5.5hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 13 hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.40, LCD Off, LED On, Low Gain)

Supported OS: Windows 7,8,10(32/64bit) MAC OS X 10.7