The Allegri Reference is a microprocessor-controlled, passive, autotransformer volume control (AVC) pre-amplifier, which is ideally suited for both the discerning home hi-fi enthusiast and the professional user. It is wired throughout with Townshend’s proprietary Fractal™ cable, with full remote control, a detailed and clear LED display and the latest Seismic Isolation. Designed with the goal of absolute signal purity, it is the optimum solution for the heart of your system. It is exactly what every serious audiophile has been waiting for.

Enjoying Townshend Audio’s renowned crystal-clear treble, open, lucid mid-band and subterranean bass, as delivered by the Allegri+ preamplifier, the Allegri Reference amazingly delivers another level of sound quality, with truly high resolution. It reveals enormously deep and wide sound stages that fill the room with holographic-like sound images, whilst unveiling previously hidden fine detail. It is the ultimate, timeless, state-of-the-art, purely analogue, passive, stereo audio volume control.
Townshend Allegri Reference back panel

"This is quite something - my advice is Try it, Buy it, Keep it. The Allegri Reference is an audio masterpiece." 


There are 129 individual 0.5dB steps, which give very fine volume adjustment at all listening levels. This incredibly wide range can accommodate very high source levels and very high sensitivity power amplifiers enabling refined volume control at very low levels, which is ideal for late-night listening. This is a 'first' for an AVC. In use, the control is seamless with no discernible steps. The Allegri Reference is the Holy Grail of audio preamplifiers.

The autotransformer configuration is employed for the Allegri Reference, as in the “stunning” Allegri+, because it has been shown to give by far the best sonic result when compared with conventional transformers (TVCs). The AVC also allows for a smaller core size, which has lower leakage inductance, which gives a far better transient performance and flatter frequency response. The AVC, is also much better than a resistive passive volume control, because of the very high input impedance and low output impedance.

The winding of each transformer comprises a single, unbroken, 260m (845 feet) length of 0.1mm (42SWG) Fractal™ wire, looped out 48 times around 48 pins, which are connected directly to the reed-relay pins. A short run of Fractal™ wire connects each of the signal in, signal out and ground, between the input/output connector board and each transformer relay board. Here is a clear case of less is MUCH more.
The laminations are 49 % Nickel, 51% iron mumetal, which gives the best bass performance and lowest overall distortion (less than 0.001%).


This purely passive autotransformer design is wired throughout with Townshend Audio’s unique Fractal™ wire, which was developed over many years of critical listening, by the most discerning audiophiles and is audibly superior to plain copper, silver and even DCT copper wire. The result is the most accurate, uncoloured and open-sounding preamplifier possible, offering astonishing transparency and resolution of the finest details.

To realise the full potential of the Allegri Reference, it is most important to use Townshend Audio F1 Fractal™ interconnects for both input and output, as just one metre of inferior interconnect can noticeably degrade the sound.


The left-hand front rotary control selects the inputs, 1 to 5. When the control is pressed, the menu options are activated. The right-hand control adjusts the volume. When the volume control is pressed, the sound is muted. A second press puts the unit in standby.


With the remote control, you can operate volume change and mute, select any one of the five inputs and program a specific pre-set offset volume level. Display blanking is also switchable from the remote.

One press of the volume button, up or down, changes the volume by one step of 0.5 dB. If the button is held down, the volume steps will be spaced at half-second intervals at first and then the stepping amount will increase. This allows for large volume changes in a relatively short time, with the entire range from 1 to 129 in covered in 10 seconds. In use, it feels just right.

To equalise the often widely varying output levels of different source components, all inputs may be pre-programmed with your chosen volume level. The range is +/- 30 steps or +/– 15dB.

All inputs may be also be set at maximum volume fixed, or zero dB, for home cinema bypass. This feature allows the Allegri Reference to effectively "disappear" as it directly connects the AV receiver to the front left and front right power amplifiers. The volume is then controlled by the AV receiver. The mute function remains active. The mute function also doubles as a standby control.

The remote is an Apple-style remote control. It is very sensitive, so it is not necessary to point it directly at the unit. There is a convenient magnet attachment to store the remote under the front of the unit.


The display is an easy-to-read seven-segment, white LED array, mounted behind a grey panel. LED displays are employed and are powered by interference-free DC. If a common LCD type screen were used, the sound could be compromised by the continuously running refresh clock.

The brightness of the display is controlled by an ambient light level sensor, so that the display is optimally readable when viewed in either bright light or total darkness. Display on/off is switchable by the remote control. The decimal point, on the input channel-display flashes with each input from the remote. This function is still active when the display is blanked. There is a further selectable option to have the screen blanked and then for the display to illuminate for five seconds, to five minutes, when a command is made from the remote control.


It is well known that digital clock oscillators degrade the fidelity of the fragile audio signal, so the sound-blurring internal clock is disabled when listening. The clock is only activated when the remote control or the front panel controls are operated.


The signal path is as simple as possible, with just four of the 102 ultra-reliable reed relays in the signal path at any one time. Reed relays are chosen for the tap switching as they are superior to all other switches. They have a life in excess of 30,000,000 operations, which is far longer than regular rotary switches, which tend to wear through the thin contact plating after a few thousand operations. Further, the relay contacts are in a vacuum, so there is no oxidation - and there is a slight rubbing action when the reeds close, which ensures perfect contact for audio. All internal connections are hard-wired with Fractal™ wire and there are no connectors in the signal path.


The phono circuits are unbalanced for simplicity and the XLR connectors are wired in parallel with the phono connectors. The configuration is pseudo-balanced with pin 2 of the XLR signal and pin 3 ground. This avoids the use of an extra balancing transformer with all the associated complications and degradations in sound. The Allegri Reference has five stereo phono inputs and two pairs of balanced XLRs, in parallel with inputs 1 and 2. There is a 3.5mm jack socket, on the front panel, in parallel with input 5. For output, it has two sets of stereo phonos and one pair of balanced XLRs. The result is a preamplifier that can perfectly match any “Red Book standard” source component to any modern power amplifier.


All microprocessor programming is done in-house, by Townshend’s digital team.


Seismic Isolation is fundamental to the design of the Allegri Reference. This gives isolation from vibration down to 3Hz in all three planes, which offers unmatched performance as a result. The four sturdy supporting feet contain fully-featured, highly compliant, air-damped Seismic Isolation modules. These block structure-borne vibration from the feet from reaching the autotransformers. This has a remarkable effect on the sound quality and is easily demonstrated by bypassing the suspension. When bypassed, the sound is exceptional by any normal standards, but when the suspension is incorporated the soundstage expands dramatically, with height, width and depth being greatly increased. With individual instruments, there is an easily discernible improvement in focus.


As a further part of the comprehensive vibration reduction, heavy mass-damped constrained-layer damping is employed in the structure of the chassis. This extra mass also greatly reduces the effect of external vibration, especially that introduced by interconnect cables.


The Allegri Reference casing is full depth at 380mm (15”) front to back. This is most convenient, as it places the controls of the unit at the front of a typical hi-fi rack shelf whilst the connectors are conveniently accessible at the rear.


The case and isolating feet are made of anodised aluminium and are available in either a natural silver or black finish.


Although the signal path is totally passive in the Allegri Reference, the electronics and display require 12V DC. A universal power supply is supplied, with the appropriate plug, to suit your country's mains supply. Power and music signal are always separate. There is no direct connection between the power supply and the signal conductors or ground.


To maintain the integrity of the Fractal™ wired transformers, it is strongly advised to use Fractal™ Interconnects for both the input and output cabling and to use Townshend Audio’s F1 Fractal™ speaker cable. This has been shown to give the best possible sound.

Townshend Allegri Reference

The table below illustrates the extremely wide volume setting possibilities:


Frequency response at -10dB: 10Hz, -0.03dB, 20kHz, +0.1dB.
Maximum signal level: 4V RMS 8Hz; 10V RMS 20Hz and up.
Maximum DC offset : 5mV (For undistorted 8Hz).
Distortion: 2V, 1kHz, -113dB, 0.0002%.
10V, 1kHz, -96dB, 0.0014%.
2V, 20kHz, -96dB, 0.003%.
2V, 10Hz, -86dB, 0.005%.
2V, 20Hz, -115dB, 0.00014%.
(2nd and 3rd harmonic only).
Intermodulation distortion: 19/20kHz, 2V. -86dB, 0.005%.
Channel separation: 20Hz-20kHz: Better than 110dB.
Impedance: At 0dB, input impedance is 20kohm. At -10dB (normal listening) input impedance is 200kohm, for a power amplifier load with 20kohm input impedance.
Inputs: Five pairs of RCA phono sockets (gold plated). Two pairs of XLRs in parallel with inputs 1 and 2. One 3.5mm stereo jack on front panel, in parallel with input 5.
Outputs: Two pairs of RCA phono sockets (gold plated) One pair of XLRs.
Dimensions: Width 234mm (5.3in), Height 100mm (4in), Depth 380mm (15in).
Weight: 9kg (20lb).
Input: 90-260V, AC 50-60Hz. Universal.
Output: 12V DC. 0,5W.

  • Allegri Reference - HiFi Critic Lab review

    “With lab results at, or very close to, the state of the art..”
    Martin Colloms, Editor of HiFiCritic Magazine auditions the new Townshend Allegri Reference Preamplifier.

    [ Full Review ]


    SteroNET reviews the Allegri Reference

    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…  …gives preamplifiers at any price and of any type, an almost impossibly hard time in terms of sound.”

    [ Full Review ]

    So how about a non professional review? - Allegri Reference

    “I ordered one of the first Townshend Allegri Reference passive pre-amplifiers to give it a try. Sale or return so to speak

    Now at this point I could spin a few stories and flesh out my conclusion, but I won’t. Its just not fair to keep you waiting. After just two weeks I put my £25,000 world-class pre amp up for sale and learnt another important Hifi lesson, that less is more – especially when less is done well.

    Townshend have developed and pioneered the Fractal process and brought to market the fractal F1 interconnects. Just like my balanced power supply from z-axis I can’t explain how it works or what is even done to the copper and wire. All I know is that their interconnects done with this Fractal wire bested my eye wateringly expensive interconnects and the Allegri Reference did the same with my eye wateringly expensive Pre-amp.

    Now I understand that there are quite a few specialist hifi reviewers currently listening to the same Allegri Reference so I suspect the professional reviews will start to emerge soon.

    So how about a non professional review? Just simple feedback, in the form of pen to paper, from someone who listens – and I mean listens – to music.

    I have not been paid for this review. I will not benefit from this review and I will not buy another Allegri so I can call this as it is. No bullshit and no marketing team telling me some other company keeps the magazine afloat with its advertisements. Just me, and a pair of superb 22hz – 60khz Gamut speakers, a pair of very transparent world class Gamut monoblock amps, a class beating Totaldac D1 Direct DAC, a comfy chair and both my ears. Oh and a glass of Balvenie – the 21 year old port wood (another masterpiece)

    In such a case my review really starts here, and the fact I am in utter disbelief at what this unit has done to my system. How is it that when one removes a world class, beautifully made valve pre amp and replace it by a rather bland box (sorry Max), with some fractal cable and a volume control, it takes a huge step closer to being magical and real?

    The three dimensional sounds which emanate from my speakers can now easily be perceived as ‘whole’. Every song I played experienced some magic. There is not even a power supply as it is truly passive so i am not sure what it actually does, but I can tell you that it makes a big difference and leaves my source to deliver its signal to my speakers as naturally and purely as physically possible. I have ever enjoyed music in my living room as much as I do with the Allegri reference in place.

    After some thought I realised what had fundamentally changed – I am now smiling whilst listening to music. This is the best way to explain what this little unit has done, it makes me smile. It does this because it brings me closer to the real musicians and the real sounds and tones.

    It lets me visualise the breath resonating on the reeds on Daze Days from Manu Katche’s wonderful 2016 Jazz crossover album Unstatic.

    It lets me see the drum skins vibrate when the percussion is struck on Led Zeppelins classic Moby Dick

    And it allows me to imagine what it would be like to be standing in the smokey bar at Blues Alley whilst Eva Cassidy casts her spell.

    It is wonderful.

    There are some other other advantages also…. Being Passive i now have a spare outlet in my balanced mains unit, for a server maybe? I can also sell one of my expensive mains cables because the Townshend Allegri Ref does not need it.

    And, for the first time ever in my changing system, I am selling equipment and not losing money, even when factoring in the new Allegri Reference pre amp cost. This is not how it works in home audio. Lets face it, we all know that to get a better sound we have to fork out more money. Lots more money. Its’ the law.

    But no, I feel like this is an Audio Hack, as my 10 year old would call it. I have bettered my system and it will not cost me money.

    This is quite something – my advice is Try it, Buy it, Keep it. The Allegri Reference is an audio masterpiece.

    James Darbyshire