Constellation Audio has created the Performance Series Argo integrated, it’s first single box amplifier. The Argo combines the Line Stage Gain Module concept of the Altair II and Virgo II preamps; the balanced bridged modular concept from the Hercules II and Centaur amplifiers; and convenience features found on no other Constellation Audio products (yet). The sum of these “stellar” parts is a 125-watt-per-channel integrated amplifier that delivers “the musicality of our larger components, yet is surprisingly compact—and yes, quite practical.”
The Argo has four analog audio inputs (two XLR, two RCA) and slots in the back to accommodate optional USB DAC and phono preamp modules, it also has a headphone amp onboard. According to Constellation’s Peter Madnick “It was especially important to us that the Argo, despite its compact design, deliver the musicality for which numerous publications worldwide have praised our other products as among the best—if not the best—on the planet. To assure that the Argo would maintain the excellence of its forbears, we began with the same Line Stage Gain Module schematic that forms the basis of our Altair II and Virgo II preamps. This module is a fully complementary preamplifier circuit that uses servo circuits and hand-selected, ultra-low-noise field-effect transistors (FETs) to achieve essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal. With no musical details buried in an imperfectly balanced circuit, every tiniest sonic nuance is revealed.”
The Argo uses a digitally controlled resistive ladder for volume adjustment and eschews potentiometers in the signal chain. Peter continued; “From the Line Stage Gain Module, we route the perfectly balanced signals into our balanced bridged modular amplifier, built using the same single-ended 125-watt circuit module used in our state-of-the-art, 1,000-watt Hercules II monoblock amplifiers. These modules receive an abundant supply of clean power from our custom-wound toroidal transformer and substantial storage capacitors. The same distinctive (and highly effective) passive ventilation system used on the Hercules II and Centaur amps provides ample cooling.”
The Argo is fully dual-mono operation, only the power supply transformer is shared. The amplifier and preamplifier circuits are laid out in a mirror-image arrangement for minimal interaction between channels, and a 432 x 230-pixel high-contrast touchscreen provides control as well as information about operating status and adjustments. A machined aluminum remote control provides access to the Argo’s most-used functions.
UK retail price of Argo is £22500, distribution by Absolute Sounds