Centaur II 500 is an unexpected but very happy result of our upgrade from the original Centaur to Centaur II. When they designed the upgrade, our “dream team” of the world’s finest audio engineers ended up with an amplifier they knew could deliver far more than its rated power, if only the power transformer could provide enough voltage. As an experiment, they installed one of the transformers from our Reference Series Hercules II into a Centaur II Stereo chassis. The experiment worked even better than they imagined, producing Centaur II 500: a stereo amplifier with the same power rating as two Centaur II monoblocks.
With 500 watts per channel into 8 ohms, doubling to 1,000 watts per channel into 4 ohms, Centaur II 500 commands complete control of any speaker, allowing every speaker it is used with to achieve its best, most musical performance.Of course, a few changes were necessary to achieve this extraordinary power. While the number of power supply storage capacitors is the same, the maximum voltage of each capacitor increases by 30 percent in Centaur II 500. We did this in order to handle the higher rail voltages necessary for the higher power rating, but it has the nice additional benefit of further increasing total energy storage.
The end result is a fully optimized design in which every component works in concert, with performance uncompromised by any other component’s limitations. Centaur II 500 effortlessly delivers the most extreme dynamic peaks, even when used with the world’s largest, most demanding speakers.
Despite its elevated power rating, Centaur II 500 preserves all the detail and delicacy of our other amplifiers – and indeed, all the detail and delicacy of the most revered single-ended amplifiers. This is because Centaur II 500 is a single-ended amplifier. Our unique Balanced Bridged topology combines numerous 125-watt single-ended amplifier modules in one amplifier, so it sounds like a small single-ended amp, yet its muscle matches or exceeds that of practically any audiophile amplifier (Hercules II excepted).Centaur II 500’s incomparable output stage design and exceptionally robust power supply can reach their potential only when they receive an audio signal that is equally superb. This is why, for Centaur II 500’s input stage, we used the same Line Stage Gain Module topology found in all of our preamps. The Line Stage Gain Module uses ultra-low-noise FETs and a unique servo circuit to maintain an essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal, even if the signal from the source device is not perfectly balanced.
If you use Centaur II 500 with any Constellation preamp, you can bypass the Line Stage Gain Module by using the amplifier’s Direct input, which forms the Constellation Link. Because the preamp has its own Line Stage Gain Module, the one in the amp is not needed. Thus, it can be removed from the signal chain to increase overall system transparency to a degree conventional preamp/amplifier combinations cannot equal.When Centaur II 500 is added to an audio system, compromise is removed. No matter what speakers are used, or what music is played, Centaur II 500 will always be up to the dynamic demands, while reproducing all the musicality and detail of the very finest high-resolution recordings.
Centaur II 500 borrows one of the colossal power transformers used in the Reference Series Hercules II, our flagship amplifier. The transformer’s size allows it to deliver incredible peak output, while its toroidal design keeps its magnetic field well-confined.
Centaur II 500’s huge transformer and increased supply capacitor voltage achieve output power of 500 watts per channel into 8 ohms, doubling to 1,000 watts into 4 ohms. Even 2-ohm loads are no problem for Centaur II 500. Whatever speakers you own, Centaur II 500 lets them give their best possible performance.
Because Centaur II’s output stages and heat sinks were so heavily overbuilt, our engineering “dream team” was able to double the power for Centaur II 500 while keeping the chassis size the same.
Like all of our amplifiers, Centaur II 500 is built from multiple single-ended modules using only N-type output transistors. This unique approach delivers the “best of both worlds”: all the finesse and delicacy of the finest small, single-ended amplifiers with the awesome power of the largest audiophile amplifiers. The fully balanced design, with separate circuits for the positive and negative halves of the signal, doubles the slew rate and broadens the frequency response, making Centaur II 500 ideal for reproducing DSD and high-sampling-rate PCM.
Maximum fidelity of all incoming signals, even unbalanced ones, is assured by Centaur II 500’s Line Stage Gain Module input stage, the same circuit used in our preamps. The module’s unique servo design maintains a perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal, preserving even the tiniest details in the music without distortion or coloration.
Centaur II 500’s circuitry is fully balanced from input to output, with separate circuits used for the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. Only discrete transistors and other components are used in the audio path; we do not compromise by passing the signal through integrated circuits.
Because our preamps already have Line Stage Gain Modules, Centaur II 500 allows you to bypass its Line Stage Gain Module using the amplifier’s Direct input, which forms the Constellation Link. By taking one gain stage out of the chain, audio transparency is elevated even further.
Our Balanced Bridged output stage design is inherently stable, so it does not require a Zobel output at its network to damp high-frequency energy, as many high-end power amps do. This means fewer components and a wider frequency response.
Constellation Audio’s Centaur II 500 Stereo Amp and Inspiration Stereo Amp were named Stereophile’s Recommended Components 2020 in their April 2020 edition.
Constellation Audio’s Centaur II 500 Stereo Amp and Inspiration Stereo Amp were named Stereophile’s Recommended Components in their Oct 2020 edition.
Constellation Audio’s Centaur II 500 Stereo and Inspiration Stereo Amp were named in Stereophile’s Class A Recommended Components list in their April 2021 edition.
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