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Inspiration Preamp 1.0
Inspiration Preamp 1.0

Constellation

Inspiration Preamp 1.0

We like to say the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 is distilled, not diluted. It embodies the essence of our earlier work while retaining the subjective musicality and objective performance that won so much ...

Brand: Constellation
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£11,998.00

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We like to say the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 is distilled, not diluted. It embodies the essence of our earlier work while retaining the subjective musicality and objective performance that won so much acclaim for our previous preamps.

Triple-transformer power supply

The design of the power supply in the Inspiration borrows heavily from the Altair II and Virgo II. We chose R-core transformers to power the audio circuits because of their inherently low noise and low radiated magnetic energy -- and because they worked so well in our previous designs. There are separate R-core transformers for left and right channels. A conventional EI transformer powers the control circuits, so the sensitive audio circuits are well-isolated from the noise of the control circuits.

Line Stage Gain Module

We use our Line Stage Gain Module circuit in all Constellation Audio products, from the Inspiration series to the Reference series. This unique topology uses servo circuits to achieve an essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. The result is, simply, a more lifelike sound, one free of the colorations that conventionally designed balanced preamp circuits can impart.

Fully balanced audio circuitry

Like our more costly preamps, the Inspiration line stage employs fully complementary balanced circuitry, in which the signal is amplified by two identical, mirror-imaged preamp circuits, one for the positive half of the signal, one for the negative half. This arrangement cancels interference while doubling the slew rate, yielding an impressive 100-kilohertz frequency response.

Double-supported chassis joints to minimize vibration

The thick, machined aluminum panels that make up the Inspiration Line Stage's chassis are assembled using a unique combination of steel buttresses and a CNC-machined joinery system somewhat like the tongue-in-groove structure found in fine woodwork. The result is a chassis far stiffer and less prone to vibration than in most preamps in this price range.

Mechanically isolated circuit boards

To prevent microphonics and other vibration-induced distortions in the Inspiration Line Stage's sensitive audio circuits, we isolate the circuit boards from the main chassis using a pliable material. All connections from the power supply are made through cables that float freely between the power supply and the main preamp board, so they can't be affected by external disturbances and so they won't carry vibration from the power supply into the preamp circuits.

Home theater bypass mode

For those who don't want to sacrifice sound quality, yet want to enjoy two-channel music and home theater surround sound in the same system, the Inspiration Line Stage offers a home theater bypass mode. One of its inputs can be configured to receive the left and right channel signals from a surround-sound processor. In stereo, the signal passes only through the Inspiration line stage and the connected amp, so two-channel performance is completely unaffected by the home theater equipment.

Constellation Direct interface

Like the Altair II and Virgo II preamps, the Inspiration Line Stage features the Constellation Direct interface. This interface routes the high-level, perfectly balanced audio signal from the preamp's Line Gain Stage Module straight into the voltage gain stage of a Constellation Audio amplifier. It bypasses the amplifier's own Line Gain Stage Module, removing one amplification stage from the signal chain and achieving even greater musicality in the process.

Machined aluminum remote 

Because the Inspiration line stage's elegant chassis comes from the same machine shop that builds our Reference and Performance series products, we simply couldn't use a generic remote. Thus, the Inspiration line stage's remote, like all of our others, is made from machined aluminum and has a suitably gratifying heft and feel.

Full dual mono construction

The Inspiration line stage's left and right audio channels have their own isolated, separate power supplies, each channel with its own low-noise R-core transformer. The preamp circuits and even the input and output jacks are arranged with the left channel components on the left side and the right-channel components on the right side. This arrangement delivers extraordinary channel separation, resulting in spectacular imaging and soundstaging.

Specifications

  • Inputs 3 XLR stereo, 3 RCA stereo, USB (for control)
  • Outputs 2 XLR stereo, 2 RCA stereo, 12-volt trigger
  • THD+N -  <0.001%, 20 Hz - 20 kHz @ 2V out 

<0.1%, 20 Hz - 20 kHz @ 10V out

  • Frequency response 10 Hz to 100 kHz, ±0.5 dB
  • Signal-to-noise ratio >-105 dB, A-weighted
  • Input impedance (balanced) 20 KΩ
  • Input impedance (unbalanced) 10 KΩ
  • Output impedance < 50Ω
  • Volume control resolution -  0.5dB from 0dB to -90 dBFS
  • Weight -  25 lbs / 11.3 kg
  • Dimensions - (W x H x D) 17 x 5.25 x 15 in (whd) 43.2 x 13.3 x 38.1 cm (whd)

When we created our original Reference series Altair line stage, our “dream team” of top engineers and designers asked themselves, “How close can we get to perfection?” Pretty close, according to many leading audio critics. So when it came time to create a line stage for our new Inspiration series, we asked ourselves, “How close can we get to Altair?” Once again, pretty close.
It's remarkable how much of the technology from the Altair II and Performance series Virgo II preamplifiers is preserved in the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0. The core audio circuits are the same. The power supply retains its triple-transformer design. The dual mono design is there, too. The chassis is built from CNC-machined aluminum slabs, crafted in the same metal shop that builds the enclosures for the Reference and Performance series components.

We like to say the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 is distilled, not diluted. It embodies the essence of our earlier work while retaining the subjective musicality and objective performance that won so much acclaim for our previous preamps.

The most vital technology in our preamps is the Line Stage Gain Module, a fully balanced amplification circuit that uses servos to maintain a pristine balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. The Line Stage Gain module in the Inspiration uses the same schematic as our other preamps, and almost all of the same parts, too. The Inspiration includes the Constellation Direct interface, which bypasses the input stage of Constellation Audio amplifiers to create a more direct signal path. As with other Constellation Audio line stages, we take great care in the Inspiration to ensure that the audio circuitry is protected from external vibration. The audio circuit board is suspended on isolators made from a soft, pliable material. The power supply is isolated from the audio circuits by a thick aluminum plate, then connected only with wires, rather than being built onto the same board as the audio circuits. Minor shocks and ground-borne vibrations do not affect the performance of the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 in the slightest, nor do any vibrations coming from the power supply.
Speaking of the power supply, it may come as a surprise to see how closely the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0's layout follows the example of its more costly brethren. Like the supply used for Altair II and Virgo II, the one in the Inspiration employs separate R-core transformers for left and right channels, and a third transformer to power the control circuits. Not only are left and right channels kept completely separate, the audio supplies are isolated from the control circuits to prevent interference. The biggest difference between the Inspiration and our other preamps is that the Inspiration's power supply is built into the front of the unit, where it is shielded to protect the audio circuits.

At first glance, the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 looks very much like the Altair II. And at second and third glance, too. This is because the key components that form the Inspiration's chassis are CNC-machined from aluminum, just as with our more expensive preamps. A unique joinery system, combining stiff steel buttresses with a system of notches that work much like the tongue-in-groove joints used in fine woodwork, assures a chassis that is almost as robust and vibration-resistant as if it were machined entirely from solid aluminum. The thick aluminum chassis walls also help shield the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0's audio circuits from electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference.
As has become our tradition, the Inspiration is controlled through a convenient front touchscreen or through a machined aluminum remote. A polysilicon resistor array provides precise volume control, with none of the channel imbalance and taper inconsistency found in almost all potentiometer-type controls.

Of course, the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0's most important characteristic is its sound, which in every way lives up to the reputation established by the Altair II and Virgo II. The slightest subtleties in every musical performance come through unaltered. No conventional balanced-topology preamplifier can equal the detail retrieval, delicacy and musicality the Inspiration PREAMP 1.0 effortlessly achieves. The gear disappears, and all that's left is you and your music.

Constellation Audio

Constellation Audio was founded on the premise that one cannot create something extraordinary through slavish adherence to established methods. When tradition is the best path, we embrace it. When new technology is necessary to achieve the performance we want, we invent it. When we find a radical circuit topology that delivers a substantial advance in sound quality, we use it.