Monday, May 23, 2022
Home Reviews The iPod Is Dead, but You Can Get This Thing for $1,300

The iPod Is Dead, but You Can Get This Thing for $1,300

Although the new KANN MAX loses an hour-and-a-half of battery life compared to the previous-gen KANN ALPHA—13 hours compared to 14.5—it actually manages to be smaller and lighter while boosting the power output from 12Vrms to 15Vrms. That allows the KANN MAX to work natively with more higher-end headphones that require their own power source to work, without the need for an additional amplifier. For comparison, the iPods’ headphone jacks delivered around 2-3V.


The KANN MAX comes with 64GB of storage onboard, which might seem like a lot given the original iPod shipped with just 5GB, but the device is also compatible with high-resolution digital audio files up to 32-bit/768kHz quality. These contain a lot more information and take up considerably more space than MP3 or Apple’s AAC files. The KANN MAX’s storage can, thankfully, be expanded to up to 1TB using a microSD card, while a clever feature called BT Sink allows high-res music files stored on other devices, like a laptop with a large external drive, to be played through the KANN MAX over Bluetooth, without the introduction of audio compression.

The most notable update for the KANN MAX is the use of four ES9038Q2M digital-to-analog converters, with each one dedicated to one of the MAX’s four amplification channels. Astell&Kern promises this approach means that the “depth and realism of the sound source can be expressed to the fullest” while “music output is expressed as the original sound without distortion.” As with a lot of audiophile-grade gear, the marketing speak does a lot of heavy lifting, but with some high-quality source files and even higher-quality headphones physically plugged in, even the most casual music fan will certainly…probably…be able to hear the difference between the KANN MAX and what their beloved iPod was capable of pumping to their ears.

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