The Centaur is the only stereo amplifier in the world that can deliver the power of a large solid-state design with all the delicacy and detail of the finest single-ended triode tube amplifiers.
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 bridged 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.
Of course, the signal emerging from the Centaur can only be perfectly balanced if the incoming signal is perfectly balanced. This is why we condition incoming signals using the same Line Stage Gain Module found in the Vega preamp. Thus, no matter what preamp you use, the signal that the Centaur provides to your speakers will be perfectly balanced. Customers who own a Vega or Altair preamps, which already put out a perfectly balanced signal, may use the Constellation Link interface to bypass the Centaur's gain module.
The Centaur could only achieve its outstanding performance with a clean, abundant source of power. To this end, we have equipped it with a large toroidal transformer with separate windings for left and right channels, as well as massive storage capacitors and fully regulated supplies for line-level circuits. We designed the Centaur to meet the needs of any and every audiophile, no matter what their tastes in music, what volume they prefer, what speaker they use, and what type of sound they like. It is the first stereo amplifier that simply leaves nothing to be desired.
250 watts per channel into 8 ohms
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.
Balanced bridged circuit design
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. Modular amplifier design 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.
Fully discrete circuitry
The audio circuits inside the Centaur are constructed using discrete components only, with no analog audio ICs.
1,600-watt custom-wound toroidal transformer
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.
Inherently stable design
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.
Large heat sinks with carefully engineered ventilation
The high thermal mass of the Hercules' huge heat sinks, combined with hundreds of large ventilation ports, assures low airflow impedance and effective cooling.
Line Stage Gain Module
This same balanced preamplification stage found in our Vega 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.
Constellation Link balanced interface
The Constellation Link interface assures the best possible sound quality from Constellation Audio components. It carries the perfectly balanced signals from the Vega 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.