The Cygnus is designed for the way audiophiles listen to music today—and the way they will listen to it in the future. It combines an advanced digital-to-analog converter with digital file access and browsing capabilities. Audiophiles can easily access music files stored on hard drives or USB sticks, and can use the Cygnus to achieve truly extraordinary sound from digital sources as diverse as satellite radio, cable and satellite TV set-top boxes, and of course the traditional CD player.
No matter what the source, the Cygnus's digital-to-analog conversion circuitry will reproduce it with the fidelity exceeded only by that of our Sirius Reference series HD digital audio source. The 32-bit/192-kilohertz DAC easily accommodates the most high-resolution audio files available today. The Cygnus actually contains four 32/192 DACs in a stereo balanced configuration, with separate DACs used for the positive- and negative-going signals of the left and right channels.
A DSP-based digital filter of our own design not only achieves optimum performance from the 32/192 DAC, it also allows the user to fine-tune the sound by selecting different filters. Numerous filter profiles, such as minimum-phase, phase-perfect, Bessel and Butterworth, are available. Although it probably sounds very technical, there's no engineering knowledge needed—just try the different filters and pick the one that best suits the system or the music.
The USB jack allows connection of any USB-compatible hard drive or USB stick. The 432 x 230-pixel front screen displays artist/album/track information and allows easy browsing by artist, genre, etc. Alternatively, you can browse digital files through an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone or tablet.
An optional computer-compatible USB input extracts digital audio files from computers then converts them to pure I2S format, with separate data and clock signals for much lower jitter and far better sound than one would expect from computer audio.
Five traditional digital audio inputs—AES/EBU, two SPDIF coax, two TosLink optical—allow connection of practically any type of digital audio source device.
The output stage of the Cygnus is the same Line Stage Gain Module found in the Vega preamp, in a fixed-gain version. The Line Stage Gain Module is a fully complementary preamp stage that uses mirror-imaged circuits—one for the positive half of the signal, one for the negative half—for superior noise rejection, faster slew rate and wider frequency response. The audio circuit is built entirely from discrete components, with no ICs used for analog audio functions.
The internal construction of the Cygnus resembles that of no other DAC (except, of course, our own Sirius HD digital music source). The circuitry is built on a "raft," a plate that floats on an elastomeric suspension to maintain a tranquil environment for the sensitive audio circuitry. The top of the raft hosts the analog audio circuitry. Digital and control circuitry is suspended under the raft, and the plate isolates the audio circuitry from interference.
A separate power supply provides two separate power feeds: an analog circuit based on an R-core transformer to power the analog circuits, and another power supply circuit to feed the digital and control circuitry. High-quality Hypertronics cables, originally developed for demanding aerospace applications, conduct power from the supply to the digital file server. Machined aluminium enclosures with a minimum wall thickness of 8.2mm bars electromagnetic interference from entering the chassis and affecting performance.
As its name suggests, the Cygnus is so far beyond the capabilities and quality of a standard DAC or disc player that it belongs in its own product category. It is sure to be emulated, but unlikely to be equalled.
USB input for digital file playback
The Cygnus plays digital music files stored on any USB hard drive or thumb drive. FLAC, WAV and AIFF files are supported.
Legacy digital inputs
Five inputs are provided to connect digital source devices such as CD players and satellite radios.
Optional USB computer input
Interfaces the Cygnus directly with a computer for playback of files stored on the computer's hard drive.
Quad 32-bit/192-kHz DAC
In a fully complementary arrangement, the Cygnus uses two 32/192 DACs per channel: one for the positive half of the audio signal, the other for the negative half. This balanced design delivers even the subtlest details of any recording—details most DACs tend to obscure.
Custom digital filter
In order to deliver the best possible quality from the quad 32/192 DAC, we developed our own DSP-based digital filter. The listener can choose from several filter profiles, whichever best suits the music.
Fully balanced digital and analog circuitry
From the digital inputs to the XLR outputs, the audio signal is fully balanced. Using Constellation Audio's Line Stage Gain Module allows us to achieve perfect balance of the positive and negative halves of the audio signal for maximum fidelity.
Separate Power Supply
In order to isolate the sensitive analog audio circuits from interference emanating from the digital circuits, the Cygnus uses a separate power supply enclosure. The power supply actually houses two separate supply circuits: a high-quality linear supply with an R-core transformer to feed the analog circuits, and another supply to power the digital and control circuits.
Browse digital music files from smartphones and tablets
Constellation Audio provides apps for Apple iOS and Android devices, so you can browse the digital files on a USB drive using your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android. It's as convenient and user-friendly as an iPod—but vastly better-sounding.
Full front-panel control
The 432 x 230-pixel front screen allows browsing of digital files from a USB drive, and also provides access to all of the user adjustments available on the Cygnus.
Machined aluminium chassis
The Cygnus' precision circuits are housed in a solid machined aluminium enclosure with a minimum wall thickness of 8.2mm. Only an enclosure wall this thick can block interference from 50/60 Hz household circuits. The mass of the heavy chassis also helps damp external vibration that might affect the Cygnus' precision audio circuitry.