|Argo / Integrated Amplifier / Overview
At Constellation Audio, musicality is always our primary concern-and our secondary and tertiary concern, too. But we do realize there are times when practicality is required. This is exactly why we created the Performance Series Argo integrated amplifier.
Argo Integrated Amplifier
The Argo combines the Line Stage Gain Module concept of our Altair II and Virgo II preamps; the balanced bridged modular concept used in our Hercules II and Centaur amplifiers; and convenience features found on no other Constellation Audio products (yet). The sum of these stellar parts is a 125-watt-per-channel integrated amplifier that delivers the musicality of our larger components, yet is surprisingly compact-and yes, quite practical.
With the addition of several new features and connections, the Argo is almost an entertainment system unto itself. It accommodates four analog audio sources (two XLR, two RCA). Two slots in the back accommodate optional USB digital-to-analog converter and phono preamp modules. Simply connect a pair of speakers and you have a complete music system. Or plug in a set of headphones and enjoy the sound of the Argo on a more intimate scale. All told, the Argo is something quite unprecedented in high-end audio: the incomparable quality of Constellation Audio, with the convenience of an A/V receiver.
It was especially important to us that the Argo, despite its compact design, deliver the musicality for which numerous publications worldwide have praised our other products as among the best-if not the best-on the planet.
To assure that the Argo would maintain the excellence of its forbears, we began with the same Line Stage Gain Module schematic that forms the basis of our Altair II and Virgo II preamps. This module is a fully complementary preamplifier circuit that uses servo circuits and hand-selected, ultra-low-noise field-effect transistors (FETs) to achieve essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. With no musical details buried in an imperfectly balanced circuit, every tiniest sonic nuance is revealed.
Argo Rear View
Volume adjustment is accomplished through a digitally controlled resistive ladder. There are no potentiometers in the signal chain, thus none of the signal degradation and channel imbalance that even the best potentiometers can cause.
From the Line Stage Gain Module, we route the perfectly balanced signals into our balanced bridged modular amplifier, built using the same single-ended 125-watt circuit module used in our state-of-the-art, 1,000-watt Hercules II monoblock amplifiers. These modules receive an abundant supply of clean power from our custom-wound toroidal transformer and substantial storage capacitors. The same distinctive (and highly effective) passive ventilation system used on the Hercules II and Centaur amps provides ample cooling.
Even though the Argo packs a great deal of technology into its compact chassis, it maintains full dual-mono operation. Only the power supply transformer is shared. The amplifier and preamplifier circuits are laid out in a mirror-image arrangement that reduces interaction between the channels to a bare minimum.
As with our preamps, a 432 x 230-pixel high-contrast touchscreen provides a comfortable, intuitive method of control as well as detailed information about operating status and adjustments. A machined aluminum remote control provides quick access to the Argo's most-used functions.
Is the Argo the most meticulously designed, lavishly constructed integrated amplifier in the history of audio? Probably. Is it the only way to get the musicality of Constellation Audio in a compact, living-room-friendly component? Definitely.