Centaur II 500 is an unexpected but very happy result of our upgrade from the original Centaur to Centaur II. When they designed the upgrade, our "dream team" of the world's finest audio engineers ended up with an amplifier they knew could deliver far more than its rated power, if only the power transformer could provide enough voltage. As an experiment, they installed one of the transformers from our Reference Series Hercules II into a Centaur II Stereo chassis. The experiment worked even better than they imagined, producing Centaur II 500: a stereo amplifier with the same power rating as two Centaur II monoblocks.
Complete control of any speaker
With 500 watts per channel into 8 ohms, doubling to 1,000 watts per channel into 4 ohms, Centaur II 500 commands complete control of any speaker, allowing every speaker it is used with to achieve its best, most musical performance.
Of course, a few changes were necessary to achieve this extraordinary power. While the number of power supply storage capacitors is the same, the maximum voltage of each capacitor increases by 30 percent in Centaur II 500. We did this in order to handle the higher rail voltages necessary for the higher power rating, but it has the nice additional benefit of further increasing total energy storage.
A fully optimized design
One thing our "dream team" did not, fortunately, have to change is the size of the chassis. Centaur II's overbuilt output stages and upgraded heat sinks easily handle the increased demands presented by the doubled power rating, so Centaur II 500 effectively delivers the power of two Centaur IIs from one Centaur II chassis.
The end result is a fully optimized design in which every component works in concert, with performance uncompromised by any other component's limitations. Centaur II 500 effortlessly delivers the most extreme dynamic peaks, even when used with the world's largest, most demanding speakers.
A perfect balance
Despite its elevated power rating, Centaur II 500 preserves all the detail and delicacy of our other amplifiers - and indeed, all the detail and delicacy of the most revered single-ended amplifiers. This is because Centaur II 500 is a single-ended amplifier. Our unique Balanced Bridged topology combines numerous 125-watt single-ended amplifier modules in one amplifier, so it sounds like a small single-ended amp, yet its muscle matches or exceeds that of practically any audiophile amplifier (Hercules II excepted).
Centaur II 500's incomparable output stage design and exceptionally robust power supply can reach their potential only when they receive an audio signal that is equally superb. This is why, for Centaur II 500's input stage, we used the same Line Stage Gain Module topology found in all of our preamps. The Line Stage Gain Module uses ultra-low-noise FETs and a unique servo circuit to maintain an essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative halves of the audio signal, even if the signal from the source device is not perfectly balanced.
If you use Centaur II 500 with any Constellation preamp, you can bypass the Line Stage Gain Module by using the amplifier's Direct input, which forms the Constellation Link. Because the preamp has its own Line Stage Gain Module, the one in the amp is not needed. Thus, it can be removed from the signal chain to increase overall system transparency to a degree conventional preamp/amplifier combinations cannot equal.
When Centaur II 500 is added to an audio system, compromise is removed. No matter what speakers are used, or what music is played, Centaur II 500 will always be up to the dynamic demands, while reproducing all the musicality and detail of the very finest high-resolution recordings
Stereophile 2021 Recommended Component
"The Constellation provided "a transparent window on the acoustic of the Amsterdam hall where the recording was made," with stable and appropriately scaled imaging of solo instruments. The Constellation offered "superb" dynamics: "The timpani blows . . . rocked me back in my chair"
- Inputs - 2 XLR (1 for Constellation Link), 1 RCA, 3.5mm jack for 12V trigger, USB control jack
- Outputs - metal binding posts
- Power output
- 500 watts per channel, 8 ohm (1 kHz @ 0.05% THD+N)
- 1,000 watts per channel, 4 ohm (1 kHz @ 0.05% THD+N)
- 1,600 watts per channel, 2 ohm (1 kHz @ 0.05% THD+N)
- Gain - 14 dB (Constellation Direct), 26 dB (balanced & RCA)
- Output noise <70 ?V, 500 kHz BW, -116 dB @ 250 watts
- Damping factor (8Ω load) - 160
- THD+N <0.05% (1 kHz @ rated power)
- Input impedance (direct) - 100K Ω
- Input impedance (balanced) - 10K Ω
- Input impedance (single-ended) - 10K Ω
- Output impedance - 0.05 ohm
- Weight - 150 lbs / 68 kg
- Dimensions (W x H x D) 18.75 x 11.5 x 24.25 in 476 x 292 x 616 mm