I recently reviewed the Townshend Audio Allegri autotransformer passive preamp in a mainstream UK hi-fi magazine and gave it five stars for sound quality and the same amount as an overall verdict. But I wasn’t so generous when it came to the build quality rating which got three stars. This is not because the Allegri is poorly built but because you can get significantly better presented products for the £1,899 asking price of this component. It will always be difficult for small companies to compete on fit and finish when they only build small numbers of components and don’t have the facilities to produce slick casework. This product was also created to bring the qualities of the £8,995 Townshend Glastonbury Pre to a wider audience, features had to be sacrificed along with fancy casework.
I didn’t have a great deal of time to produce the review but subsequent experience has further increased my regard for this product which is extraordinarily revealing and devoid of the shortcomings usually associated with passive preamps. This was brought into stark relief when I was loaned a £6,000 passive TVC preamp from one of the foremost marques in the sector. I could tell without comparison that it lacked the Allegri’s transparency but what really knocked me sideways was how much more energy it produced by comparison. It makes the more expensive controller sound positively flat and lifeless, so much so that I don’t think that its difficult to find anything positive to say apart from nice casework.
High end audio is often a form of male jewellery so it’s inevitable that the more sexy a component the more likely it is to succeed. But if you are into this hobby for the musical rewards then it pays to listen rather than look. To get the most transporting results I recommend listening with your eyes closed that way you won’t be swayed by the shiny boxes or lack thereof.