Constellation Audio Pictor preamp and Taurus Stereo power amplifier

Equipment+
Categories:
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers
|
Products:
Constellation Pictor ,
Constellation Taurus Stereo
Constellation Audio Pictor preamp and Taurus Stereo power amplifier

Constellation Audio needs little introduction but a lot of explanation. The products were famously made by a ‘dream team’ of designers given a blank sheet and the lone requirement of “make the best one you always wanted to, if price were not a consideration”. These basic circuits form the core of every range of Constellation Audio. You get more and better the further up the Constellation Audio range you go.

This has two big advantages; there is a consistency of sound and upgrading is easy. You can pick and mix a system from different ranges (up to a point – using the Hercules power amps from the Reference series with the Inspiration Preamp 1.0 isn’t going to benefit either product) without ever leaving the Constellation ecosystem (perhaps that should be ‘universe’). Revelation is Constellation’s middle range, comprising the Pictor preamp, both a stereo and a mono version of the Taurus power amplifier, and the Andromeda phono stage. Above Revelation are Performance and Reference ranges, and below is Inspiration and the still-to-be-launched Leo system in the upcoming Dominion range. There are phono stages in everything above Inspiration and the Performance range includes Constellation Audio’s lone digital source, Cygnus.

Revelation was launched in 2017 to fill the space between Inspiration and Performance, and both the Pictor line preamplifier and Taurus Stereo power amplifier do that in a visual and audible sense. If anything, they lend themselves more toward the Performance; no mean feat as Performance is considerably more demanding and built to a standard few can attain. While it would be both wrong and dismissive to paint the Pictor as a Virgo III in Preamp 1.0 livery, or the Taurus Stereo as a Centaur II in a Stereo 1.0 chassis, there’s more than a grain of truth in the notion. That’s no compromise – the touchy-feely of the Pictor and Taurus Stereo are exceptional… until you start to run your hands over the Virgo III or Centaur II. The Pictor/Taurus feel smooth almost like the shell of an Apple product, where the textured feel of the Virgo/Centaur is like some kind of polymer metal that James Cameron could base a movie around. The modular nature of the original circuit designs means that the Revelation series models retain much of the, erm, performance of the Performance line, just with a few of the extremes smoothed away. 

Take the Pictor, for example. It uses the same Line Stage Gain Modules found in the Virgo III and originally designed for the lofty Altair II; a unique design that uses a servo circuit to monitor and maintain the balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. This means when Pictor is used with a Constellation power amplifier, the Constellation Link may be employed, maximizing sound quality by bypassing the power amplifier’s gain stage. It also uses the same basic circuit topology and even the same separate power supply module as the bigger preamp. Internally at least, the main change is fewer inputs, with three RCA and three XLR inputs in place of the four each in the Virgo III. 

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