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AXPONA 2014: Kharma and Constellation, times two

CT6A6476 Kharma and Constellation Audio teamed up on a pair of rooms at AXPONA, and if you were a fan of hi-fi sound, they would have been like manna from heaven, weaving webs of light and space around the stars spinning in your eyes. In "The Big Room", the $54k/pair Kharma DB-11s loudspeakers were driven by a full suite of Constellation gear, including three Centaurs amps -- one stereo ($27k) driving the lows and a pair of monos ($54k/pair) on the highs. Heh heh. Heh heh. A $25k Virgo II preamplifier (with the $4k DC filter) was fed by a $32k Cygnus DAC/Media Server (also with the DC filter). Argento cables were used throughout and Grand Prix Audio provided the rack.

In “The Small Room”, the $17,400/pair Kharma S-7 loudspeakers were driven by the new Constellation Argo, a $22,500 integrated. The Argo, which is shipping now, is modular — a pair of slots are ready to accept the future DAC and phono boards. And yes, that pair of Sennheiser HD-800 dangling in front means that there is a headphone jack — it’s on the rear of the case. A Resolution Audio Cantata Music Center provided the tunes.

Aside from the new Argo, Constellation was also showing the newest line, the Inspiration. The succinctly-named Preamp 1 and Amp 1 are scheduled to be released soon, and are targeting a $10k (each) price. Yes, you heard that right — a mega-priced brand is actually moving down market, and doing so aggressively. Personally, I think that’s great news.

Constellation is getting praise from all corners as being an incredible merging of tech and finesse, and here driving the Kharma loudspeakers, I can totally see why the press is all aflutter. The casework alone is enough to separate the brand out, but the sound quality has a transparency to it that is like removing, not cleaning, glass. I have a suspicion that just about anything in this lineup is going to be hell on your crap components. Ahem.

As for Kharma, this is one of those brands that don’t really have much of a track record with me. I mean not that it’s bad, it’s not, it’s just not there. Their hiatus from the US market pretty much coincided with my dive into the deep end of the pool, so I don’t have much in the way of history to judge them by. But from the look of the workmanship, I can honestly say that I’m happy that they’re back. The finish on the big speakers was like a gravity-defining pool of ink, suspended and inert. The white wasn’t any different, with a startling depth and luster. Someone is really loving on these cases. As for sound, I think fans would probably happily compare them to Magico and YG, and that’s fair. Detail, air, space and speed were all on display here — PRAT all over the place.

Very impressive demos in both rooms — which says nothing but good things about both brands, in my book.

UPDATE: Irv Gross, the Director of Sales for Constellation, just sent me a press release with some additional info on the new, upcoming Inspiration Series:

AMP 1.0

  • Power Output: 200 W/ch. into 8 Ohms, 400 W/ch. into 4 Ohms @ 0.2% THD+N
  • Bandwidth: 10Hz-80 KHz @ 0.5% THD+N
  • S/N ratio: >95dB, A-weighted
  • Inputs: Constellation Direct, XLR Balanced, RCA Unbalanced
  • Output: 1pr. Binding post/Banana socket/channel Features: 12V trigger, USB control
  • Power consumption: @idle = 110W, @full power TBD
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 17” x 8.5” x 19”; 43.2 cm x 21.6 cm x 48.3 cm Weight: 55 lbs.; 25 kg.

MONO 1.0

  • Power Output: 400 W/ch. into 8 Ohms, 800 W/ch. into 4 Ohms @ 0.2% THD+N Bandwidth 10Hz-80 KHz @ 0.5% THD+N
  • S/N ratio: >95dB, A-weighted
  • Inputs: Constellation Direct, XLR Balanced, RCA Unbalanced
  • Output: 2 pr. Binding post/Banana socket/channel
  • Features: 12V trigger, USB control
  • Power consumption: @idle = 110W, @full power TBD
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 17” x 8.5” x 19”; 43.2 cm x 21.6 cm x 48.3 cm
  • Weight: 60 lbs.; 27.2 kg.

PREAMP 1.0

  • Bandwidth: 10Hz-100 KHz @ 0.1% THD+N
  • S/N ratio: >105dB, A-weighted
  • Output = 17 Volts RMS
  • Inputs: 3-XLR Balanced, 3-RCA Unbalanced
  • Output: 2pr XLR & RCA/channel
  • Remote Control: Volume, Balance, Home Theater Bypass, Mute, Phase Features: internal power supply, 12V trigger, USB control
  • Power consumption @50W
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 17” x 5.25” x 15”; 43.2 cm x 13.3 cm x 38.1 cm Weight: 25 lbs.; 11.3 kg.

Pricing and Availability: The US retail price of the AMP 1.0 is $10,000, the MONO 1.0 is $20,000/pr., and the PREAMP 1.0 is $9,000.

Deliveries worldwide will begin in June 2014.

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About Scot Hull (979 Articles)

Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

1 Comment on AXPONA 2014: Kharma and Constellation, times two

  1. These, in my mind and ears, were the 2 best rooms… Yes, there were bigger speakers delivering mind boggling sound, BUT the simplicity and design of the pieces was simply stunning.. The S-7s were especially sweet sounding.. Sitting I the Seville chair listening to Norah Jones was just beautiful.

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