Inspiration Series
PREAMP 1.0 / Line Stage
Preamp 1.0 / Line Stage / Overview
When we created our original Reference series Altair line stage, our “dream team” of top engineers and designers asked themselves, “How close can we get to perfection?” Pretty close, according to many leading audio critics. So when it came time to create a line stage for our new Inspiration series, we asked ourselves, “How close can we get to Altair?” Once again, pretty close.

It's remarkable how much of the technology from the Altair II and Performance series Virgo II preamplifiers is preserved in the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0. The core audio circuits are the same. The power supply retains its triple-transformer design. The dual mono design is there, too. The chassis is built from CNC-machined aluminum slabs, crafted in the same metal shop that builds the enclosures for the Reference and Performance series components.

We like to say the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 is distilled, not diluted. It embodies the essence of our earlier work while retaining the subjective musicality and objective performance that won so much acclaim for our previous preamps.

Preamp 1.0 Line Stage
The most vital technology in our preamps is the Line Stage Gain Module, a fully balanced amplification circuit that uses servos to maintain a pristine balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. The Line Stage Gain module in the Inspiration uses the same schematic as our other preamps, and almost all of the same parts, too. The Inspiration includes the Constellation Direct interface, which bypasses the input stage of Constellation Audio amplifiers to create a more direct signal path. As with other Constellation Audio line stages, we take great care in the Inspiration to ensure that the audio circuitry is protected from external vibration. The audio circuit board is suspended on isolators made from a soft, pliable material. The power supply is isolated from the audio circuits by a thick aluminum plate, then connected only with wires, rather than being built onto the same board as the audio circuits. Minor shocks and ground-borne vibrations do not affect the performance of the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 in the slightest, nor do any vibrations coming from the power supply.

Speaking of the power supply, it may come as a surprise to see how closely the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0's layout follows the example of its more costly brethren. Like the supply used for Altair II and Virgo II, the one in the Inspiration employs separate R-core transformers for left and right channels, and a third transformer to power the control circuits. Not only are left and right channels kept completely separate, the audio supplies are isolated from the control circuits to prevent interference. The biggest difference between the Inspiration and our other preamps is that the Inspiration's power supply is built into the front of the unit, where it is shielded to protect the audio circuits.

Preamp 1.0 Line Stage
At first glance, the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 looks very much like the Altair II. And at second and third glance, too. This is because the key components that form the Inspiration's chassis are CNC-machined from aluminum, just as with our more expensive preamps. A unique joinery system, combining stiff steel buttresses with a system of notches that work much like the tongue-in-groove joints used in fine woodwork, assures a chassis that is almost as robust and vibration-resistant as if it were machined entirely from solid aluminum. The thick aluminum chassis walls also help shield the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0's audio circuits from electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference.

As has become our tradition, the Inspiration is controlled through a convenient front touchscreen or through a machined aluminum remote. A polysilicon resistor array provides precise volume control, with none of the channel imbalance and taper inconsistency found in almost all potentiometer-type controls.

Of course, the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0's most important characteristic is its sound, which in every way lives up to the reputation established by the Altair II and Virgo II. The slightest subtleties in every musical performance come through unaltered. No conventional balanced-topology preamplifier can equal the detail retrieval, delicacy and musicality the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 effortlessly achieves. The gear disappears, and all that's left is you and your music.

Inspiration Series Index
Integrated 1.0
Preamp 1.0 Line Stage
Stereo 1.0 Stereo Power Amplifier
Mono 1.0 Monoblock Power Amplifier

Performance Series Index
Argo Integrated Amplifier
Virgo III Line Stage
Cygnus Digital File Player/DAC
Perseus Phono Preamplifier
Centaur II Power Amplifier
Centaur Mono Monoblock Power Amplifier
Centaur Stereo Power Amplifier

Reference Series Index
Altair II Line Stage
Orion Phono Stage
Hercules II Mono Power Amplifier
Hercules II Stereo Power Amplifier

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