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01-10-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,549
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 18866
Reply to: 18866
Orion Phono Preamplifier
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There is a new company out there that make some electronics. I do not know them, never heard anything that they do and do not know anyone who use their products. They have a phonostage that might be interesting.

http://www.constellationaudio.com/ca/reference-series/orion/orion-overview

It looks like it is a fully active SS phonostage with RC filtration. The CONTINUOUSLY adjustable source impedance made me wonder how they did it, not to mention if it even sensory. I can see somebody another idiot reviewer playing his TT in spa and pontificate how different Debussy’s “La mer” was when he change the cartridge loading from 47R to 49.6R.

The digitally condoled selectable record EQ curves is certainly good but lately I do not feel that selectable fixed curves is such a great aider and they very little comply with standards. I would rather to have optional and easy accessible RIAA override that would allow me to make my own judgment what EQ shall be.   My experience with flattener of response suggests that I by hearing can tune music myself to much higher degree of accuracy then any compliance or not compliance to the industry standards.

The specification of the thing is pretty much empty but I do anticipate high gains of 85dB  and very low noise.

http://www.constellationaudio.com/ca/reference-series/orion/orion-specs

What attracted me in this phonostage is that they look like try to build it in the same way how Germans Rohde Schwarz or American Watkins Johnson built their UHF equipment in past - with compartmentalisation and expensive shielding of individual sections. For sure it helps to noise and have very little to do with Sound, still I feel that it is commendable way to do if it not lead to a too much extension of signal path.

If some of you have a reasonable opportunity to hear that thing then it would be interesting to hear what you feel about it.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-10-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
N-set
Gdansk, Poland
Posts 454
Joined on 01-07-2006

Post #: 2
Post ID: 18867
Reply to: 18866
John Curl
fiogf49gjkf0d
Let's see if this design of him will get such an enormous feedback on diyaudio as his BlowJob preamp (no idea on the sonics of both though,never heard them)



Cheers,
Jarek
01-10-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,163
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 3
Post ID: 18868
Reply to: 18867
Audio Marketing 101A
fiogf49gjkf0d
Well, they got John Curl's name on it, and it's "machined from a billit", 2-chasses, yadda, yadda.  It also features the "new wave" balanced/presumed- differential topology and a "mystery"/proprietary (presumed discrete) first stage.  Likely, it will not be long before lots of other offerings will be similarly described.  Nice noise specs, anyway.  Some pro gear mfgs. have touted this general topology for some time now.

In fairness to the blurb writers, what can/does one say about something that should be judged primarily by ear, and then by convenience, and then by durability/lifespan?  It takes deep pockets and brass balls to make/market something like this.  I suppose they might have said it was designed through countless hours of listening to Bruckner...

Let's hope for future owners that the mgfs. did not stinge on the relays...


Paul S
01-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,549
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 18869
Reply to: 18868
A 'brass balls' phonostages
fiogf49gjkf0d

 Paul S wrote:
Well, they got John Curl's name on it, and it's "machined from a billit", 2-chasses, yadda, yadda.  It also features the "new wave" balanced/presumed- differential topology and a "mystery"/proprietary (presumed discrete) first stage.  Likely, it will not be long before lots of other offerings will be similarly described.  Nice noise specs, anyway.  Some pro gear mfgs. have touted this general topology for some time now.

In fairness to the blurb writers, what can/does one say about something that should be judged primarily by ear, and then by convenience, and then by durability/lifespan?  It takes deep pockets and brass balls to make/market something like this.  I suppose they might have said it was designed through countless hours of listening to Bruckner...

I do like the brass balls metaphor and I disagree with anything else. Of cause it is pure marketing blur but any statement in the website, particularly for the company proud that they recognized by Robb Report would be just a marketing haze. What audio practitioners shall do it looking behind the marketing and see what the subject is.

The park of good quality SS phonostage is not large. Most of good phonostage are tube but we do see some ridicules SS phonostages that in contrast of all rules do sound ridiculously good. Boulder 2008 come to my mind that had no typical SS thinness and had surprisingly rich sound.

Back in time John Curl had Vendetta SCP-2 phonostage that was reportedly interesting. I never had it and the people who did have it were not the people whose judgment I value but from what I remember it had very interesting design and innovative construction. Some of the design was a bit controversial, like DC-servo for each stage and use of a potentiometer for cartridge loading but the proof in the pudding and the Vendetta reportedly sounded acceptable. It had very low noise, somewhere around 90dB, but not too high gain, of I am not mistaken then it was somewhere around 68dB. My “End of the Life Phonostage” has 88dB noise with 85dB gain, which is good but it has 26dB transformer in it. The Vendetta was all active, the different animal all together. The new phonostage output 2V at -100dB noise but what signal it was driven? It is was 0.1mV then the noise number is phenomenal but if it was with 100mV at input then it is what absolutely nothing special. The gain number shall be published and the facts that they did not published made me to wonder if any stink is going on. I do anticipate that it will have high gain, let say 75 and up. Otherwise it would not be interesting or noble attempt.

I do not think that anybody designed this new corrector countless hours of listening to Bruckner. As far as I know that people from Curl’s circles they are dead musically. From what I remember about John Curl when I dealt with him last time he had no interest in any listening or any “fine” materials of human awareness but he was heavy on cocaine and the only challenge he had was to wake up next morning. From another perspective I have no idea how much involvement John Curl had with this phonostage. They dropped his name but this is meaningless. He could draw for them a circuit on the napkin and it does not mean that the final product has any integrity to what Curl was trying to express in his design, if he ever intender or even able to express anything meaningful.

I do not think that this phonostage will be able to see a light of objective and independent review, at least from beginning. Vendetta phonostage was distributed within a close circuit of people who proved themselves by years of dick sucking to the clan that produce it. You can’t expect any impartiality, independence or integrity from those types of people.

Saying all of it I do think that Vendetta might be a worthy phonostage and I do think that the new Constellation Orion might be a worthy phonostage. Which some subjects where I have expertise I can with high degree of accuracy to predict result or at least to express my doubt. In the case of SS phonostage of unknown design and unknown implementation I would not risk to make any guesses, neither I need to. I am not in market for any phonostages but I think the attention to this newcomer phonostage has to be given as it was made to be not just another internet fart but to be a “brass balls” phonostages.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,549
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 5
Post ID: 18870
Reply to: 18869
A Follow up....
fiogf49gjkf0d

I just did a quick Googleing of the found the following info in their Norwegian dealer:

http://www.acoustictuning.com/Downloads/Brosjyre/ConstellationAudio/Orion.pdf

So, the phonostage has 40dB, 60dB, 70dB (selectable) gain.  The the noise at 70dB is VERY good, still a phonostage is not only noise numbers. In fact the nanovolts of noise are in a way irrelevant even it endeed is VERY hard to accomplish, even with SS design. I am sure that idiots out there who will review it will make the nanovolts of the noise is “relevant” by claiming that with Orion phonostage they cannot hear surface noise anymore. That train was never late…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,163
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 6
Post ID: 18871
Reply to: 18870
"Active" LO MC Stages
fiogf49gjkf0d
Yes, it is anybody's guess how an active SS-only phono stage would sound with a low output MC, since this is usually a recipe for death (of Music).  My own cartridge, for example, only puts out .125mV.  I'm not so sure even the 2008 would work for my cartridge; in any case it is the ONLY one of its kind that I actually liked (a lot...).

Leaving aside the Luck Factor, I think the success of the Boulder was largely due to high-tech gain parts and knowing how to use them.  With op amps (like the Boulder), part of the "secret" is tons of feedback.  The way Orion "describes" their circuit, it sounds to me like, in addition to using the latest parts, it also employs a topological noise cancellation strategy.  Anyway, I would like to play with it...    in my own system.


Paul S
01-14-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,549
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 7
Post ID: 18891
Reply to: 18866
Some thoughts about the 'Constellation Noise'.
fiogf49gjkf0d

Sine I read about the new Orion phonostage I was thinking about the whole story behind it. The whole Constellation Audio as the company that started  2-3 years back strike me as  some kind of combined efforts of a group of dealer and distributors to create a fictional audio awareness and trade it  using unadulterated high-snobbism marketing. Some things that they do looks like very showy, not that any manufacturer does not want to be showy, but something does bother me in that whole story. Let look at the Orion phonostage as an example.

Constellation commission John Curl to made for them a phonostage. They commission him or juts paid him off to use his name is never will be know but as a result a new $70K phonostage out there and promoted by Robb Reports as the only phonostage that you have to use on your luxury yacht while you are being blown by Cosmopolitan model. Why that phonostage is such special? Because it has .4nV per square root hertz, a twice better then contemporary ultra low op-amps. Well, on surface it is for sure is very commendable to have such a phenomenally low noise phonostage but let look at the meaning behind the glossy covers of superficiality.

Constellation did not write the noise numbers in dB per gain that still would be impressive but they use nanovolts per square root hertz. For sure the nanovolts is impressive but it makes absolutely no since. Voltage per frequency is the scale that is used to portray noise projected to bandwidth. In the Constellation case the bandwidth is known – it is the RIAA corrector. It is not that one devise has 20-20K bandwidth and another run into gigahertz region and we try to compare the noise levels. All RIAA correctors have the same bandwidth that is described by the RIAA standards and therefore to use the noise per hertz measurement is juts to do a cheap showing off.

However, there is a bigger fish to fry. I question how much noise is sensible to have in phonostage? The regular good design methods allow having 75-80dB noise that is very good number and totally not detectable. Do not forget that we deal with analog records that have incomparably higher noise than that. In addition it is analog noise, something that is not modulated by amplitude as digital noise is and something that has no harmonic structure of any kind, so the subjective tolerance to this kind of noise is very very high and I would not be surprise that minus 20-30dB of noise is not truly a big deal, after all that what we have with reel tape hiss…

Well, the Constellation and John Curl went good 20-30dB lower in noise then anything out there. It is truly a great engineering accomplishment but do we really need it? As a husband of a physician who believes that chemotherapy is a universal cure from anything I always think about the side effects. So, how Constellation-Curl got their great noise numbers? The quality of construction and use of low nose elements is unquestionably estimable but your do not go with 70dB RIAA gain into the realm of over 100dB with FET transistors and extruded aluminum encapsulation. To go there Curl most likely used a lot of FET paralleling in the gain stages and run a lot of global feedback. I do not insist that feedback and active paralleling are bad but they are questionable. The most important however is that they are questionable but necessary ONLY to benefit the marketing people to scream about the ultra low noise number. I absolutely insist that there is no person in the face of planet who would distinct the noise between two phonostage that play a real life record in one  phonostage has -80dB noise and another has -100dB of analog noise.

I would certainly not discard the Constellation phonostage juts because the stupidly-low noise.  The low noise is not bad at all but I would like to hear from Constellation about the sound of that thing. Neither Constellation nor John Curl are known as people who care about sound too much. Well, they might do but for them sound is mostly a byproduct of design efforts or a tradable commodity. So, I do not feel that there is anything human in the Constellation phonostage, or even in the whole Constellation Company. They look like were formed as marketing alliance and they look like conducting the life as marketing entry.  So far all that I know about them is the metaphor about that “Constellation noise”…

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-14-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,163
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 8
Post ID: 18892
Reply to: 18891
70k
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First order of business is to sell them at a high price; so, if their approach and their spiel seem familiar...

Again, this sort of "balanced", "ultra-low-noise" circuitry has been around in the pro sound market for a while now, but NOT for phono stages (to my knowledge), apart from the 2008.  Boulder has been VERY secretive about their particular implementation, to the extent of potting things; but the generic outline is "out there".  Although it only makes sense that anyone else attempting it would have to listen to it at some point, whether this would help in the end is anybody's guess.  And based on the "introduction", my guess is, it would not help all that much.  So, as is too frequently the case, it's down to crossing fingers, and the real part of the $70k advertised price.


Paul S
01-15-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
decoud
United Kingdom
Posts 241
Joined on 03-01-2008

Post #: 9
Post ID: 18902
Reply to: 18892
The tyranny of false objectivity
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They chase numbers because numbers is the only thing you can unambiguously compare. The model for evaluating feedback equipment ought to be musical instruments: that it is not perhaps tells us that most of the time audio equipment is not used to reproduce music.
There is also here surely a fetishization of technology that does not make sense even technically. What could possibly be the rationale for optocoupled variable resistors in the volume control? The noise of the two devices will inevitably sum, and to argue that avoiding a contact makes that necessary means you could avoid it by soldering one connection further up the chain.
01-15-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,163
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 10
Post ID: 18904
Reply to: 18902
Relays, and SOTA in General
fiogf49gjkf0d
Decoud, I think the "idea" they are miming is to have the controls isolated, "out of the signal path", via "relays".  This is not new, of course, but it is "modern" and "high-tech", and it also creates a way for the "digital interface" (tres chic...), which I'll bet is the first thing that goes haywire on the unit.  Also, as a marketing consideration, one supposes the young and/or forward-thinking perfectionist would hate not to have this feature if it was available elsewhere.

Best regards,
Paul S
01-18-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
ArmAlex
Iran
Posts 82
Joined on 02-15-2009

Post #: 11
Post ID: 18922
Reply to: 18891
Rating Constellation
fiogf49gjkf0d
I have no experiance of Constellation sound, but I think it should not be something special. In CES they shared a room with Magico which is unbelievably unlistenable.Best regards, Armen
01-19-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,549
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 12
Post ID: 18923
Reply to: 18922
Room sharing
fiogf49gjkf0d
 ArmAlex wrote:
I have no experiance of Constellation sound, but I think it should not be something special. In CES they shared a room with Magico which is unbelievably unlistenable.

Room sharing at the shows is a complicated subject and I would not pay attention to it in context of sound. Room sharing might highlight some administrative and marketing objectives but it absolutely nothing to do with sonic objective. Coincidently it appears like Constellation and Magico are the companies with the same aim toward to flashy artificial results targeted to deaf people who drool over glossy promotions but the reality of the actual results for Constellation might be different. Anyhow, I would not discard Constellation juts because they are look like associated with Magico - the ugliest company in the whole industry. After all Walter Gieseking was Nazy’s  motherfucker but it does not remove him from the history as one of the greatest pianists. So, the association of the marketing efforts is not necessary has reflection to sound. Also, we do not know who set sound in Constellation. In Magico we know that the Israeli asshole Alon Wolf who is in the facade of the company is absolutely fictional figure who has no cultural, technical or sonic values. We do not know who is behind the curtain in Constellation. I heard that it was a group of dealers made own family  of products but it come from the sores that I do not particularly trust.


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-19-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Stitch


Behind The Sun
Posts 226
Joined on 01-15-2009

Post #: 13
Post ID: 18924
Reply to: 18923
Room Sharing II
fiogf49gjkf0d
Rooms are normally booked from Manufacturers or Distributors. Not all of them have a full line, so they look for Partners. Looking for Partners to share costs and/or to present a running System. A Turntable or Digital Manufacturers does not build amps or speakers, so looks to get them from another Manufacturer. That is normally done for free because the more you can see from a Manufacturers so more you get the impression THAT is good (because so man Exhibitors use it).
Next step is to find a Partner with well known Products. That makes life easier. No one cares for sound. That is one reason why you find so many awful sounding Systems at such shows (+ the majority from those who are deaf and are on drugs while telling you how great it is....). The goal is to combine the own product with something expensive which run through the press already. Lamm + Wilson is such a combo, Magico Speakers got the press so everyone is glad when he gets a Pair from the Manufacturer...
Those can be sold later as a Demo unit :-)Win/Win game.
As usual for the others, the interested listener is as always a loser...he will hardly find a good demo based on this "System Mechanism"...


Kind Regards
Stitch
02-13-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Serge


Russia
Posts 51
Joined on 09-21-2009

Post #: 14
Post ID: 18999
Reply to: 18866
Former Audio Alchemy
fiogf49gjkf0d
Isn't Constellation Audio run by Peter Madnick, formerly with Audio Alchemy?
His former colleague Mark Schifter has a very bad reputation I believe, don't know if I should extend it to Constellation Audio or not.



http://hifiblog.livejournal.com/
02-13-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,549
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 15
Post ID: 19000
Reply to: 18999
To me they are all the same.
fiogf49gjkf0d

 Serge wrote:
Isn't Constellation Audio run by Peter Madnick, formerly with Audio Alchemy?
His former colleague Mark Schifter has a very bad reputation I believe, don't know if I should extend it to Constellation Audio or not.

I do not know who is behind the Constellation Audio. There was an attempt a few years back from my best friend Mike Framer to write something about Constellation that gives some insides, at least the insides that they want to make public. I am sure the reality is much more cynic:

http://www.theaudiobeat.com/visits/constellation_audio_interview_one.htm

http://www.theaudiobeat.com/visits/constellation_audio_interview_two.htm

I do not particularly care about their current or formal “reputation”. They produce audio components that have specific sonic attributes. Those attributes might or might not be used. The industry freaks who stay behind it and who move boxes and count money arouse no interests in me. Go to a red-light district of your town and ask a well-seasoned prostitute what she feels about her clients. That is exactly how any industry freak feel about what they do and I have no use or interest in those people

Rgs, Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
02-14-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
steverino
Posts 302
Joined on 05-23-2009

Post #: 16
Post ID: 19004
Reply to: 18999
Audio alchemy gold to lead
fiogf49gjkf0d
Audio Alchemy was a maker of budget priced gear back in the mid 90s  that was somewhat better sounding than much equivalent gear. That would be enough to earn them enmity in the audio business. Of course they had virtually no quality control which hurt them but many other manufacturers have the same problem. I thought that Mednick and Shifter were just marketing types and that the tech guy in back of them was Dusty Vawter. After the collapse of Audio Alchemy Vawter went on to start his own budget line. I thought it was called Monolith or something like that which morphed into Channel Islands. I don't have any of his gear but it seems to have a decent reputation and he has stayed in business for about 15 years now so he is doing better than the others. My recollection is that towards the end of its existence AA came up with a somewhat more expensive DAC which was well regarded. Since I don't play CDs very much I wasn't interested but someone may know if it was in fact as good as ballyhooed back in the late 90s.
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