Rather than bulking up the Centaur by simply adding more transistors – and losing the delicious subtleties and microdynamics for which smaller, simpler amplifiers are treasured – Constellation Audio’s “dream team” of engineers decided on a different approach.First, we built a superb-sounding 125-watt single-ended amplifier. Then we designed it as a module so that we could achieve any desired power rating by simply adding more modules. The resulting 250-watt-per-channel stereo amplifier sounds exactly like that original 125-watt single-ended amplifier, just twice as powerful.
Like the Hercules, Constellation Audio’s top-of-the-line Reference series amplifier, the Centaur uses a balanced drive design, a unique, fully complementary circuit topology that achieves an essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of an audio signal. Other fully complementary amplifiers use different types of transistors for the positive and negative halves of the signal, so they are never quite perfectly matched. The Centaur instead uses matched single-ended amplifier modules employing only N-type output transistors. Thus, an ideal balance – and the best possible fidelity – is achieved.
With the current to deliver 500 watts into a 4-ohm load and 800 watts into a 2-ohm load, the Centaur has enough power to drive any speaker, even state-of-the-art full-range models.
Because the Centaur uses only N-type output transistors, it achieves essentially perfect positive/negative balance ? something no amplifier that uses half N-type and half P-type output transistors can match.
The Centaur is built from multiple 125-watt single-ended modules so it delivers the power of a large amplifier with the finesse of a small amp.
The audio circuits inside the Centaur are constructed using discrete components only, with no analog audio ICs.
A large toroidal transformer provides ample current for the Centaur’s power rails. To provide independent, stable power to the left and right channels, the transformer uses separate windings for left and right channels. Thus, high power demand on the one channel does not affect the performance of the other.
The modular design of the Centaur is inherently stable, so it does not require a Zobel network at its output to ensure reliable performance at high frequencies.
The high thermal mass of the Hercules’ huge heat sinks, combined with hundreds of large ventilation ports, assures low airflow impedance and effective cooling.
This same balanced preamplification stage found in our Virgo preamp is also used in the Centaur, to assure that the amplifier circuit receives a perfectly balanced signal. This fully complementary circuit is actually two preamps, one amplifying the positive half of the signal and the other amplifying the negative half.
The Constellation Link interface assures the best possible sound quality from Constellation Audio components. It carries the perfectly balanced signals from the Virgo or Altair preamplifiers to the Centaur and allows the user to bypass the Line Stage Gain Module on the Centaur, reducing the number of gain stages in the signal chain.
Inspiration STEREO 1.0, Inspiration MONO 1.0, Inspiration PREAMP 1.0, Centaur Stereo, Argo, Perseus, Virgo III, Altair II, Hercules II Mono have been awarded the Absolute Sound 2015 Editor’s Choice award.
Virgo II, Perseus, Centaur Stereo & Mono and the Inspiration Series STEREO 1.0, MONO 1.0 and PREAMP 1.0 have been awarded the Absolute Sound 2015 Editor’s Choice award.
Virgo, Perseus and Centaur Stereo have been awarded the Absolute Sound 2013 Editor’s Choice award
Centaur, Perseus and Virgo have been awarded the Absolute Sound 2012 Golden Ear Award
Editors Choice Awards from Issue #271 of TAS
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