As we reported in the spring during our Munich coverage, Astell & Kern launched four new products this year, of which all four are now making their west-coast American debut at Can Jam SoCal 2019.
Firstly the two new DAPs, starting with the Kann Cube which in person is a beast of a player. It’s heavy, it’s solid, and is oozes high-end in both looks and sound. Second, the A&ultima SP2000 which features a dual-mono DAC design, using AKM’s 4488EQ DAC chip-set. Third, the new SP1000 companion amplifier for the existing SP1000 DAP. This add-on component carries with it 3,700mA of battery power, to extend mobile playing time of the SP1000 DAP, along with the added sonic benefits of more power. Fourth, the forthcoming new IEM co-designed and tuned by Beyerdynamic exclusively for Astell & Kern, the new AK Ti9E headphones. Featuring 4N pure silver and 7N OCC copper hybrid cabling. The new IEM is a complete redesign that builds on the AK Ti8E platform.
The booth at Astell & Kern was busy one, but I had the chance to toy around with a few of the DAPs, and while pushing them through a speed trial in terms of UX, I was not let down. When listening to the new Kann Cube, I was thrilled by its power and control. Is the size of the new Kann Cube a deal breaker? No. In truth, it’s a plus. There are certain concessions I am willing to make in the pursuit of high-end power and sound. One of them being the weight and bulk associated with them. The build quality of the new Kann Cube feels tremendous in the hand, and if walking down a dark alley, I’m sure it would make a handy weapon and come out functional on the other side.
by Eric Franklin Shook