Professional musician and audiophile Rafael Todes “recommends without question” Max Townshend’s new Allegri Reference. “I never tired of this preamp’s ‘revelatory’ quality; everything you play somehow sounds different to before… [it] gives preamplifiers at any price and of any type, an almost impossibly hard time in terms of sound.”
“The role of a hi-fi preamplifier is an interesting one,” writes Todes. “At its most basic, it’s both a volume control and a switch – but the difficult part is by far the former.” He then goes on to map out some of the pros and cons of the various possible design approaches that strive to get around a preamp’s key challenges, with varying degrees of success.
These include the passive preamp, which uses variable resistance to deliver the right volume level. “You can liken this to driving your car flat out and then using the brakes to set your speed. It’s inexpensive but sub-optimal. Then there’s the transformer preamplifier which you might say has the effect of a far more sophisticated passive pre, using a transformer’s windings and taps to control output to the power amplifier.”
Townshend’s new Allegri Reference preamplifier is the latter: in fact to be precise it’s a microprocessor-controlled, passive, autotransformer volume control (AVC) preamplifier, crafted for both the discerning home hi-fi enthusiast and the professional user. Designed with the goal of absolute signal purity, it’s wired throughout with Townshend’s proprietary Fractal™ cable, with full remote control, a detailed and clear LED display and the latest Seismic Isolation (another Townshend innovation).
As an audiophile and a professional musician, Todes is particularly well-placed to put the Allegri Reference through its paces. (A gifted violinist, he is currently a member of the Allegri String Quartet and was previously in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle; he also teaches at London’s Junior Royal Academy).
To say that he is impressed would be an understatement.
“The most obvious thing about the Allegri Reference is its overall transparency… [it] beats all [other high-end preamps] into a cocked hat.”
“The physical size and scale of the recorded acoustic is vast. There’s a beautifully defined soundstage, the system suddenly dropping back yards more than I am used to.”
“Tonally, it’s practically translucent… It keeps this clarity in the time domain too – it’s so fast and unfettered that to my ears it’s quite outstanding.”
“This is an expensive preamplifier, but so right on so many levels. It makes the solid-state ones I’ve heard sound slow and mushy, and the valve designs seem fat and bloated. Also, it’s way more open than any passive design, and head and shoulders above digital volume controls. Compared to the other transformer preamps I’ve heard, it is faster, cleaner and more three dimensional. The Townshend Allegri Reference is then, a game-changer.”
Discover more at www.townshendaudio.com/allegri-reference-preamplifier/
Read the full review online at www.stereonet.co.uk/reviews/townshend-audio-allegri-reference-preamplifier-review