“It is several years – back in 2012 to be precise – since we reviewed the first compact Townshend line level control based on a ‘fractal’ miniature auto-transformer wound with cryogenically-treated wire,” writes Martin Colloms in the Jan/Feb/Mar issue of HiFi Critic. This was and still is the Allegri, which is still offered in Allegri Plus form as a six input, single-winding passive volume control or ATVC. Colloms continues to use the Plus as a reference. So how will the new Reference compare?
“After a few days of informal listening, comparisons began in earnest, the key question being whether Townshend has improved on the very fine Allegri Plus, notwithstanding the addition of remote control and the related automation circuitry,” writes Colloms.
“With lab results at, or very close to, the state of the art, it was to be hoped that the sound quality would be commensurate. It was: the feed from this level control is virtually indistinguishable from the input signal, an ideal result. It has almost no character of its own, so readily does it transmit all the valued qualities of the program source – such as exemplary pace, rhythm and timing with excellent stereo images, commanding all aspects including focus, width and depth. Exceptionally transparent, it provides a clear window into the sound stage.”
A/B comparisons with Colloms’ own much-loved Townshend Allegri Plus “showed just how transparent and neutral the manually operated Allegri Plus is, but time and again the Reference had the edge. At first sight hardly possible in the circumstances, it was found to be more dynamic and expressive, more transparent, more resolving of detail, of image focus, depth and width, and was equally (and excellently) upbeat and well-timed. Bass tunes were judged clearer and seemed to run deeper, and the Reference seemed more commanding in respect of dynamic expression and also in conveying the excitement of musical events. It portrayed space and atmosphere very well, such as the audience murmur at a live concert and that sense of being present at a performance.”
“It offers outstanding transparency and also strongly engages the listener; and who could possibly argue with that? A very worthy entry to the HiFi Critic Audio Excellence category.”
Read the full review in the Jan-Feb/Mar 2020 issue of Hi-Fi Critic
Discover more, including where to find your nearest dealer, at www.townshendaudio.com