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Astell&Kern Kann Max puts a lot of power in a little hi-res music player

15Vrms = small audio dynamite

A&K Kann Max Hot Stuff

When we think about socks-knocked-off levels of audio power output, we’re picturing a ribcage-shattering speaker stack at Fabric – not a music player so dinky it’ll fit in the pocket of your 501s. Luckily the high-end digital music mavens over at Astell&Kern see things differently, which is why they’ve put the Kann Max out into the world.

The fourth and newest entry in the company’s Kann range lives up to its Max name by cranking up power output to a frankly bonkers 15Vrms, meaning it can drive pretty much any set of headphones without the need for any additional external amplification. And, much as audiophiles might love spending money on extra things to plug their expensive cables into, we think they might appreciate the simplicity that brings.

That the Kann Max pulls this off while remaining lightweight and pocket-sized is perhaps its greatest achievement; it tips the scales at just 305g, measures a trim 117 x 68.3 x 23.6mm and carries the brand’s signature angular look.

On board is 64GB of storage (expandable to 1TB thanks to a microSD slot) and a battery serving up 13 hours of music playback. That comes courtesy of an ESS ES9038Q2M Quad-DAC, which A&K say delivers ‘exceptionally clear and balanced sound’.

Hi-res files up to 32-bit/768kHz are supported via wired connection, while wireless headphone users can experience up to 24-bit quality thanks to support for the aptX HD and LDAC codecs. There’s also Wi-Fi support to make transferring your tunes to the player that bit simpler.

It’s running Android underneath, so there’s no shortage of streaming services available to sideload. Plenty of ’em now support hi-res audio, or at least offer a quality tier above the low bitrate mush that once passed for digital music.

You’ll be able to buy the Astell&Kern Kann Max from mid-June, priced at £1199/$1300/€1499.