Bored so I've ordered a Townshend Audio Allegri+ Pre Amp

Something I’ve been looking at for months now.

I’m currently using a dcs Bartok direct into dual power amps which means using the Bartok digital volume control. I admit, at lower volume levels, there is a hint of less clarity - something that I’ve started to notice once the honeymoon period has passed with the Bartok. So the combination of Bartok plus passive pre-amp (I’d call the Allegri an attenuator rather than a pre-amp) seems to be a recommended combination allowing you to run the Bartok at 0dB output (no digital attenuation).

Anyway the opportunity came for an Allegri+, from Townshend, at c. half price so I’ve gone for it. Delivery about 3 weeks (due to COV19) but that gives me time to sort out another issue. The Allegri is RCA in and out. The Bartok has both RCA and XLR for output so I can use RCA direct to the Allegri+. However the ATC P1 amps are XLR in for which I have a custom Chord XLR Y cable. I admit I could use the phono inputs on the P1 amps but that means more cabling and the ultimate aim is some active speakers which will be XLR only so, at some stage, I’m going to need to cross the issue of converting the RCA output of the Allegri to XLR. To that end, following the advice of Simon-in-Suffolk, I’ve ordered a proper unbalanced to balanced converter which is made by Sonifex and should be here in the next 1-2 weeks.

So the plan is RCA out of the Bartok into the Allegri+. Then RCA out of the Allegri to the Sonifex and then Sonifex to P1 amps (and, one day, active speakers) via XLR. The icing on the cake is the Allegri has two outputs so I can use the second RCA out to go to my Rupert Neve headphone amp though that will need buying another pair of phono interconnects. Another option is use the now surplus XLR out on the Bartok to goto the headphone amp. The problem there is whether the headphone amp can take the output from the Bartok when it’s output is set to 0dB. However that’s something to experiment with.

My only worry, okay it’s a ‘niggling issue’ rather than a ‘worry’, is the cabling will be a lot more extensive so I foresee, in the future, some stressful cable dressing. :wink:

Anyway just thought I’d share…

I also found when trying use the pre in the rossini that it was difficult to get the balance right with trying to keep the digital volume as high as poss and using the different output voltage to try and get the volume right etc. Hard to do and in the end i gave up.
I also found the digital volume needed to be at 0.0 or atleast 70% and once you went more the quality seemed to go a bit. As i was kind off hoping that i could do away with the 552 and maybe even the 500.
I was going to try a music first audio reference pre amp and a pair off their mono amps, why you might say, well because the pre has 2 sets off balanced inputs and i could run both my rossini and rega aura as they both have balanced outputs and the mono amps also have balanced inputs. It was all set up, but had to cancel due to whats going on, but i will re visit this once we get back up and running

The higher model Townhend pre-amp has balanced in/out but it’s a lot more money. :frowning:

Having the Bartok and going out to buy a new pre, i would want to go balanced as its the best way to go for quality

Going balanced all round was going to add quite a lot to the price for the solution but, I agree, it would probably be the best way to go.

Hi Steve,

Should be interesting. The 300DR works superbly with the Allegri …but then they are both SE.

With the Klimax I tried both the balanced and SE outputs into the Allegri and definetly preferred the SE, but I just used cable convertors and not a proper Balanced > SE converter.

Should be an interesting experiment, hope it works splendidly.


If you’re intent on a transformer based passive pre-amp and need to go balanced, there are a couple of companies not too far from where I live called Music First Audio and The Bespoke Audio Company who both make just such a thing. I don’t know how they compare to the Townshend, but they look nicely made and may be worth a look.

Cheers :slight_smile:

Has it arrived yet?

The Allegri+? No… they said early last week it was supposed to be here this week - still waiting :frowning:

I suppose they need an email but I don’t like to hassle people under the current circumstances. I’ll send an email now.

Update… Townshend are saying next week :frowning:

OK, thanks Steve - look forward to hearing how it goes.

I had a dabble with the Alergri + and whilst I found it promising I thought it wasn’t quite as good as the 552. It would be really interesting if Townsend gave the option to have Din outputs and inputs. That would at least give a level playing field for the same cable comparisons. I ended up using their fractal cables with phono’s and I think this may have skewed the results? According to Hi-Fi Critic the new Alergri is another step up on the plus version.

I’m wondering why you just didn’t get a Balanced preamp? Any number of excellent choices. Audio Research, Jeff Roland, Solution, Constellation, Dartzeal, Ayre. I’ve just never heard a passive attenuator that I cared for, especially if you decide to go active

I presume you have never heard the Allegri then …


No I haven’t. Good luck with it. Did you get a trial period? Every passive attenuator I’ve ever heard has lacked dynamics. That’s just my experience. Add to that all of the extra cables to try and run balanced. I’ll bet you could find a lovely ARC LS 28, or Ref 5 or Ref 3, a Pass Labs, an Aesthetix, lots of great balanced preamps that would drive active speakers and not have to kludge up some single ended to balanced cables, which is always messy. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

The real benefit of the Allegri is its price, around 3k. Nothing in common with Arc Ref 3 or 5 , Aesthetics, …prices.
However I agree with you, passive pre are very often anemic.
I don’t understand why Mr Colloms, always writing about Prat and dynamics, is so in love with the Allegri…
A mystery from me.
But of course, better have an Allegri than using Naim streamers direct into a power amp. And probably most streamers/ dacs with volume control.

I agree Roster. But there are plenty of really good preloved active preamps, if cost is an issue. The op is using a DCS Bartok it’s 15k in the US.

And in the end the OP will end up spending more in terms of wasted time or compromised SQ. And using some switch box to convert RCA to XLR? There’s always a right way and a wrong way. Wrong way usually costs less upfront but more in the long run. Just my opinion based on experience, but I could be wrong.

I’m demo:ing the EAR 868L line preamp this week. Balanced and 4-5k. Pleasantly surprised by it (driving Linn Klimax Twin). I have not tried a valve/tube preamp since the 80s :slight_smile:

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@jan they have changed a lot since the 80’s

I was quite interested in the Allegri Reference preamp because, amongst other things, it’s got remote control (I’m not too good at jumping up & down these days) & unity gain, which I really need for integration into my A/V system.

I dropped Townsend and e-mail, explaining my interest and asking for dealers etc., and asking if I could borrow one to try in my own system. Townsend couldn’t be bothered to reply, so that’s it for me, I shall stick to the 552DR.

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