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Astell & Kern KANN Cube vs A&norma SR15

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by LTD078, May 26, 2019.
  1. LTD078
    Hello all,

    I currently have an Astell & Kern KANN which I use mainly to provide me with on demand HIFI music from Tidal to my home stereo (Musical Fidelity M6Si / MA Gold 300), I also use it every couple of weeks for air travel. Due to where I live I am not always able to stream music from Tidal due to our local area network being loaded, so it's time to upgrade to a model that supports Tidal Offline & sell the KANN.

    So I am choosing between the A&norma SR15 & the KANN CUBE and don't want to loose sound quality into my amp, not so worried about headphones as my current ones don't require much power... The decision would be easy to make without much thought, however the CUBE is $2199 & the SR15 is $850 which is a big difference, I am wondering the CUBE is worth the extra cost. It seems to have development in feeding headphones that require large power, however I am not too worried about much more than feeding my home amp. So is the CUBE with the extra money when it comes down to what I'll be using it for? maybe there are some things I am not considering here... I don't want to settle for the SR15 if I am then disappointed with sound, DAC capability, battery life, etc

    ASTELL & KERN A&NORMA SR15 $850
    PCM: 24bit/192kHz
    DAC: Dual Cirrus Logic CS43198
    AK Connect: Supported Built-in
    Memory: 64Gb

    ASTELL & KERN KANN CUBE
    DAC: ESS ES9038PRO SABRE 8channel x2 (Dual DAC)
    Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback
    Outputs: PHONES (3.5mm) / Optical Out (3.5mm) / Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported)
    Built-in Memory: 128GB [NAND]
    External Memory: microSD (Max. 512GB) x1



     
  2. oncdoc
    I've got the same question
     
  3. LTD078
    Hello, I ended up buy the KANN Cube & I love it!
    For my application it's amazing & truly seems like the best choice for feeding my amplifier. It is notably clearer than my previous KANN, the operating system is obviously more up to date however the AK Connect app has limits which need to be rectified for the Cube to be perfect.

    Regards

    Scott
     
  4. gazzington
    Is it much better sounding than the sr15?
     
  5. artpiggo
    Kann Cube is more resolute and better soundstage, better mid, more energetic.

    I recommend Kann Cube if you are AK Fan.
     
  6. LTD078
    I agree with artpiggo 100% but in reference to comparison with the previous KANN. I bought the Cube because I need the features that the original KANN lacked however I was surprised to hear an increase in soundstage and mids that are so clear I was waiting to hear imperfections in the recordings.
     
  7. nekromantik
    is this really a fair comparison?
    SR15 is $600 and KAAN is over $1000
    Better comparison would be against SP1000M
     
  8. gazzington
    Fair comment, that would be more fair
     
  9. artpiggo
    I believe the intention of this question is "does kann cube justify its quality considering the price increment compared to sr15?"
     
  10. oncdoc
    Agreed anyone can compare?
     
  11. AlanU
    The battery life in my Norma simply sucks. However the refined sound quality and finesse makes up for this......

    The Kaan CUBE is MASSIVE and it's really more like a desktop permanent fixture. The Norma is small and fits in your pocket and is sufficient for my Andromeda's. The balanced amp in the Norma is a massive step up from the single ended cable.
     
  12. nekromantik
    yeah the battery life is not very good.
    i wish the player was size of fiio x5 so they could add bigger battery
     
  13. AlanU
    I tested the Kaan Cube today with a pair of Campfire Solaris with balanced fiio cable. The combination was sublime. The sound signature was rich and confident. My Norma with the same IEM's just sounded weak in comparison side by side.

    I just cant get over the size of the cube. It will fit in your back jean pocket but it's not very portable if your intending to lug it every day commute to work.

    A non scientific test but just playing around. The Solaris with single ended factory cable on the Norma still sounded better than the my Andromeda's with balanced cable the Kaan Cube. Putting the Solaris on the Cube with the single ended cable was quite a combo. Having the Solaris with the excellent budget FIIO balanced cable was an incredible match.

    At the end of the day the Norma will always be a great portable amp but it is NO COMPARISON to the sound signature of the Kaan Cube. The confidence the Cube has is so evident with my campfires. A fellow auditioning the cube still feels that the cube lacks while using the Focal elears.
     
  14. AlanU
    I was told the more expensive sp1000m has a very similar SQ to the Kaan Cube.
     
  15. DL67
    I purchased the CUBE on pre-order and received it last week. Here are my own observations so far... the size is a little bit of a shock when you first unbox it, however it's also clear that the difference in hardware easily justifies the upsizing - this DAP sounds absolutely amazing!... If you play DSD/DSF files the dynamics and spatial characteristics are second to none. This thing can easily drive ANY headphone or iem, I have mine set up for low gain using Acoustune iem 1551 CU's on iBasso balanced 2.5MM copper cable... you feel like you are THERE... right in the middle of the music. I've owned several DAPs including an AK240 and a SONY WM1 series... both of which sound really good, the CUBE has a lot more to it... the amp config with the 9038 PRO dual DAC setup is hard to beat. There are a couple of subtle misses (only in my opinion) - the bluetooth works fine however the level-out doesn't seem high enough - as with most DAP offerings the battery may not hit the (advertised) 9 hour mark.
    I've run the CUBE with SONY Z1R's, CA Solaris', HD 800's... and my favourites the 1551 iem's... each sound different, but the spatial and sound definition is extraordinary with each. As with many reviews the overarching factor with this DAP is if you load quality files (flac or DSD/DSF) you will hear EVERY nuance and characteristic of the recording; the great part is the depth and range are phenomenal - better than anything I have listened to on any player to-date.
    If I were asked - is it worth the 1500 USD retail price... a resounding YES, YES, YES... this DAP will serve as the core of my audio setup at home and as needed a portable. Quality and construction are A+++ and the OS runs a LOT smoother than other AK models.
    The only other concession - everyone goes on about 2.5mm vs. 4... that wouldn't be my concern... I'd rather see a variety of output cables for the 5-pin mini xlr port...

    If you want a DAP for your pocket choose another AK mid/high level player... if you want a DAP that is 99.5% in every area get a CUBE.
     
    AlanU likes this.

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