Unique flexibility and adjustability.
The Orion is likely the finest phono stage ever created: the first phono preamp manufactured with the incomparable quality and attention to detail found in Constellation Audio's Altair II and Hercules Reference Series components. Not only is the Orion the first component to bring Reference Series sound quality to vinyl records, it offers unique flexibility and adjustability that lets it deliver the best possible sound quality from any cartridge... and any record.
Conceived by our "dream team".
Like all Constellation Audio products, the Orion was conceived by our "dream team" of the world's best audio engineers and industrial designers. Its phono preamp section was created by John Curl, the world's most acclaimed phono preamp designer. Its line stage is based on the Line Stage Gain Module concept developed by veteran high-end designer Peter Madnick. Its chassis is the creation of Alex Rasmussen, perhaps the most prolific industrial designer in high-end audio. Each Orion is assembled by hand in our Newbury Park, California factory.
Adjustable record EQ curve
Of course, the Orion offers a precise reproduction of the industry-standard RIAA record EQ curve. However, it also allows manual adjustment of the EQ curve directly from the remote control. Not only can it accommodate pre-RIAA records mastered to different EQ curves, it allows the listener to compensate for mastering idiosyncrasies. Now every record can sound its best, even if its mastering wasn't the best.
Multiple-shielded for ultra-low noise
Because phono preamp signals are typically 200 to 2,000 times lower in level than line-level audio signals, they are especially susceptible to interference and noise. This is why the Orion's circuits are so extensively shielded, using a combination of machined aluminum enclosures around preamp circuits, a heavy sheet metal "raft" that supports the circuit boards, another heavy sheet metal shell around all of the circuits, and a thick machined aluminum outer chassis.
Adjustable load impedance and capacitance
The Orion can extract the best possible performance from any phono cartridge because its load impedance is adjustable for both moving-coil and moving-magnet cartridges, and load capacitance is adjustable for moving-magnet cartridges. For moving-coil cartridges, the load impedance can be adjusted in 1-ohm increments from the remote control, making it especially easy to experiment with different settings.
Discrete preamp circuit with low-noise FETs
We build the Orion's phono preamp circuit using hand-matched, ultra-low-noise FETs, to deliver performance and musicality unavailable from any other brand. Servo circuits maintain an essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal.
Fully balanced dual mono design
The Orion employs the best possible circuit design for a phono preamp. Left and right channels are fully isolated from each other through metal shields and separate power supply feeds. The positive and negative halves of the signal are amplified by mirror-imaged, separate circuits, a design that doubles the slew rate and thus achieves superior frequency response.
Machined aluminum remote control
Today's serious vinyl enthusiasts like to experiment with cartridge loading, EQ curves, and different cartridges and tonearms. The Orion's elegant machined aluminum remote lets them do this from their listening chair, without having to get up, flip DIP switches, disassemble the unit, etc. It's a level of convenience almost unheard of in phono preamps.
Separate triple-output power supply
With Orion, not only is the power supply isolated in a completely separate chassis to prevent interference, but dedicated internal supplies are provided for the left and right channels. Each channel gets its own audiophile-grade R-core transformer. A separate transformer and regulated supply is provided for the control circuits. Custom-extruded PCOCC cables, each one tipped with high-current Hypertronics connectors designed for aerospace applications, carry the separate power feeds to the main chassis.
Convenient LCD front touchscreen
The easy-to-read LCD touchscreen on Orion's front panel makes it easy to select inputs and adjust the many parameters available for each input. With its large, high-contrast fonts, the display can easily be read from across a room.
Floating circuit board assembly
Because preamp circuits are especially susceptible to microphonics (signal pollution caused by exterior vibrations), we mount all of Orion's audio circuits on a "raft" made from two layers of stainless steel sheet separated by a vibration-absorbing polymer. The raft is mounted on an elastomeric suspension that "floats" it inside the chassis, so vibrations coming from the ground or the air won't affect the operation of the preamp circuits. Custom-made, ultra-flexible wiring also helps prevent exterior vibration from reaching the audio circuitry.
Chassis machined from solid aluminum
Mere sheet metal cannot block the intense 50/60 Hertz interference created by household circuits and appliances, which is why we machine the Orion's aluminum chassis to a minimum thickness of 8.2mm. The sheer mass of the chassis also helps damp vibration - even if it does make Orion one of the heaviest phono preamps ever created, at 82 pounds.
10K ohm to 100K ohm, MM input
44.5 x 14 x 37.6 cm (whd), phono preamp
44.5 x 7.2 x 36.8 cm (whd), power supply