It’s been a busy week for high-end portable audio brand Astell&Kern, with the launch of the fourth member of its Kann performance line of digital audio players plus a new pair of in-ear monitors in collaboration with Campfire Audio.

Supporting even the most demanding high-impedance audiophile headphones, the Kann Max boasts a power output of 15 Vrms, which is higher than the mighty Alpha launched in 2020, yet comes wrapped in a more compact and lightweight – though still trademark angular – chassis.

The 2.68 x 4.6 x 0.92-in (68.3 x 117 x 23.6-mm) performance-focused digital audio player is reported to be the first in the Kann series to boast four ES9038Q2M digital-to-analog converters, one for each of the device’s amp channels, and includes a circuit redesign aimed a low-noise delivery despite the increase in power output.

Astell&Kern’s Teraton Alpha sound technology has also been cooked in, for the promise of “audio playback close to the original sound.” The Kann Max can play locally stored high resolution audio files up to 32-bit/768-kHz PCM resolution, and native DSD512 too. And there’s a function that levels out volume levels across songs up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

The Kann Max DAP is the first in the performance line to feature four ESS DACs
The Kann Max DAP is the first in the performance line to feature four ESS DACs

Astell&Kern

For the wireless generation, Bluetooth 5.0 with 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC high resolution codecs has been included, and there’s 802.11n Wi-Fi too, for direct content streaming and to facilitate wireless drag-and-drop file transfer from a PC or mobile device.

Listeners can plug in via 2.5-mm or 4.4-mm balanced or 3.5-mm unbalanced gold-PVD-coated audio ports, playback is controlled via a 4.1-inch 720×1,280 touchscreen display, a knurled volume wheel offers LED bit-rate indication, processing brains come courtesy of a quad-core CPU, and there’s 64 GB of onboard storage plus microSD expansion.

Users can look forward to continuous playback for up to 13 hours before the 5,600-mAh Li-Po battery needs topping up, with fast charging supported.

The Kann Max will go on sale from the middle of next month for US$1,300

Astell&Kern has teamed up with premium hand-built earphone maker Campfire Audio to release the Pathfinder IEMs, reported to be the first in-ear monitor to rock dual-chamber driver technology.

The hybrid design features dual-diaphragm Balanced Armature drivers and custom dynamic drivers. The former is said to offer a more natural reproduction in the mid-range, while also delivering “extended and smoother high-frequency sounds.”

If you need some fancy new in-ear monitors to go with your new Kann Max DAP, Astell&Kern has you covered with the hybrid Pathfinder IEMs
If you need some fancy new in-ear monitors to go with your new Kann Max DAP, Astell&Kern has you covered with the hybrid Pathfinder IEMs

Astell&Kern

Campfire Audio’s Radial Venting Technology makes its debut in these IEMs, housing the 10-mm dynamic drivers in a 3D-printed acoustic chamber and venting through an opening at the face of each driver for the promise of punchy bass and mids, as well as a broader soundstage for listeners.

The IEMs ship with three different cables, allowing users to plug them into any of the balanced/unbalanced audio jacks on the Kann Max, as well as a good selection of eartips in various sizes.

The Pathfinder IEMs will be available from mid-July for $1,900.

Product pages: Kann Max, Pathfinder IEM

Audio New Atlas