Heavy hitters

Astell & Kern Kann Alpha x Audeze LCD-2 Classic

Important update

Oct-10-2021 — After going through three (3) different Kann Alpha, I’m returning the third and last one I received due to wifi connectivity issues. All my troubleshooting efforts and results have been shared with an Astell & Kern representative. The only users who seem to have been impacted by such issues are in Europe.
While I still believe that the Kann Alpha is an outstanding DAP with nothing even remotely coming close to it on the market as of this writing… should you be interested and live in Europe, you might want to ensure you can return it in case you face similar issues.


Audeze LCD-2 Classic

If I were to add all the statements I read on the Audeze LCD-2 Classic and turn them into numbers, the result would be nada, zero, zilch, nothing, emptiness — swallowed into a black hole. The LCD-2 Classic, in fact, do not exist and you’re not reading these lines.

Whether too [insert a statement contradicting the next one] or too [insert another statement contradicting the previous one]; I finally cracked under great self-inflicted pressure and bought a pair (it was on sale — sue me).

Cable, Comfort & Build

The cable is great, good length, no micofonics and terminated in 6.35mm so don’t forget an adapter.

I’ve got huge, 7cm long, ears — thanks Mom, thanks Pop — and most headphones’ earcups (yes, most) are too small for me so I’ve made damn sure the Audeze wouldn’t be an issue — they weren’t.

At more than half a kilogram, they’re heavy but their suspension system is great and, in all honesty, they’re very comfortable for their weight.

Worthy of note is the headband’s adjustment system which is stepped. I’m lucky, one of the steps is right on — others might not be so lucky.

Otherwise, the overall build is sturdy and solid, in every sense of the term.

Sound

Paired with an Astell & Kern SR25 in line out via a Schiit Vali2+, right out of the box, the LCD-2 Classic were a go for me.

Clearly a dark/warm sound signature, but not overly so, with an amazing soundstage. We’re in “everything’s there” territory and if you don’t A/B them with other headphones (which is pointless in my opinion as you have to spend a good amount of time with each instead of jumping back and forth), you’ll walk out a happy wo/man.

In turn, this meant I wanted to go with them… in my living room, on the couch, etc. — you get the picture.

Enters the Astell & Kern Kann Alpha.

Astell & Kern Kann Alpha

Build & UI

It’s an Astell & Kern. There’s not much more to say. You like it, or you don’t. I like it. A lot. Compared to the SR25, it’s as “fast” due to the Android 9 base and the bigger screen size is more than welcome. It’s also heavy, though less than what I expected.

Sound

I’m not going to mince words here. The Alpha Kann is an Astell & Kern DAP with a proper amplification section. They chose a good DAC and tuned it natural/neutral in order for it to go with pretty much everything. My main worry was how it’d stack-up against the SR25 x Vali2+ combo.

Well, not only does the Kann Alpha drives the LCD-2 Classic effortlessly, the resulting synergy is better than the SR25 x Vali2+ combo. The SR25 already being on the smooth end and despite the stock Vali2+ being renowned to be not as tubby as one would except from, well, a tube amp; it seems that the Kann Alpha pulls the LCD-2 Classic a bit out of the darkness all the while retaining the musicality, thickness and warmth I like.

Conclusion

The only disappointment I have is that I didn’t expect the Kann Alpha to work so well with the LCD-2 Classic and had Woo Audio’s WA11 Topaz in mind as an alternative. Once a gearhead, always a gearhead I guess. With that said, stacking never really worked for me and I love “holding music in my hands” — if that makes sense.

The Astell & Kern Kann Alpha x Audeze LCD-2 Classic make a great pair, have an amazing synergy, and can only be a highly recommended duo as far as I’m concerned.

[ BACK ]