Some believe a preamp is no longer needed since volume controls are commonplace in digital sources. That’s true, but on the one hand, you see them much less often in phono preamps, and there are still a few vinyl fans; on the other hand, I have to say: In all these years, my (classic passive) system has not had an excellent integrated level control, can completely replace a dedicated preamp in terms of sound. Something is always missing: pressure, resolution, space, etc. But admittedly, this is also a question of system planning and, last but not least, money. The high-level preamp we are discussing here is called Alluxity Pre One and is priced at 7,950 euros.
“Alluxity – I don’t know it!” you say. Do you know, or haven’t you read, our test of the Danes’ integrated amplifier? But you should, because there is a bit about the company and its history.
Founder Alexander Vitus Mogensen is now not only the mastermind and CEO of Alluxity but also of Ava Group A/S, based in Herning, Denmark, the umbrella company that also has Vitus Audio under its wing. Yes, precisely the high-end brand that his father, Hans Ole Vitus, launched in the mid-1990s – and has enjoyed an excellent reputation ever since. So the statement that Alluxity has good genes can be taken almost literally.
Asked for further information about his precursor, Alexander Vitus Mogensen is quite taciturn, but nevertheless, a few fundamental design decisions can be mentioned.
The Alluxity Pre One is built in double mono, as a look inside reveals. It is a symmetrical circuit design, which with an upper cut-off frequency of 800 kHz (-3 dB), appears relatively broadband; there is no global feedback. Discrete components, especially those of the SMD type, are often used – and the volume control was implemented with relay-switched resistors.
If you are a very tactile person, it could be that you only buy the Alluxity Pre One to pick it up now and then and nod in satisfaction with it with your knuckle: The housing of this preamplifier has been turned from the solid, the thing weighs a whopping 14 kilograms, there are weight plates that seem more susceptible to resonance – it’s just awesome! Or, to put it more seriously: the processing quality and solidity of the Pre One are excellent.
Appropriately and almost more importantly, the Furutech connection sockets on the back also look rock-solid. And while we’re at it: It’s not complex here. It has five high-level inputs, three of which are balanced, the amplified signal can be tapped via cinch or XLR, and an unbalanced bypass option and an RJ45 socket for firmware updates – that’s about it.
The centered touch display on the front serves as the user interface, which does not react as sensitively as a smartphone, but can be operated intuitively with light pressure. However, there is not much to adjust. Input selection, level, mute, that’s everything. Okay, you can still choose from different brightness levels and colors of the display or switch it off completely. But there is no “consumer stuff” like balance, treble, bass, or loudness controls. The Alluxity preamp is pretty much pure teaching. You could also say: Spartan equipped.
The Pre One comes with what I consider to be the best-designed of all remote controls, namely the Apple Remote (aluminum). Very nice. It only gets annoying if you have an Apple TV running in the room simultaneously and are now using both synchronously, which you rarely want to do… Couldn’t you change the infrared channel here or something like that?
And while I’m creating a wish list for the next (firmware) update: I think it’s great that you can switch off the display of the Pre One. But if I set something via the remote control, I also want to get visual feedback; a few seconds is enough, then I’d be happy to do it again. However, the touch display only reports when you touch it. Last but not least: The volume control knows 34 steps; in the upper range, it is with 1.5 dB increments, in the middle with 3 dB, and in the lower with 6 dB. The gradation may be fine for an 83 dB/W/m speaker, my acapella but it is 10 dB more sensitive, and so in the end, I only have about ten steps between very quiet and very loud. I can deal with that, but I prefer a little more sensitivity. How about 1, 2, and 3 dB steps?
So, grumbling grandpa has complained enough; now music should finally play.
Alluxity Pre One: Hearing test and comparisons
For several years, I listened happily to the Octave HP300 Mk2 tube preamp, whose spatially generous and finely dynamic, brisk sound has its charm. The Octave was finally replaced by a Pass XP-12, which I kept after the test – along with the X250.8 power amp. In terms of sound, the Pass of the Octave is superior if you apply classic hi-fi criteria: tonally more neutral, which means in particular blessed with more power in the bass, also better resolution and more concrete, more precise, more opaque in the image, but perhaps not quite as extensive. Well, that’s how it has to be; after all, it costs about twice as much at just under 8,000 euros.
Now the Alluxity Pre One is in the rack, and when I compare it with the said pass, formulations come to mind that would also apply to the pass/octave comparison.
But not in all areas – for example, not when it comes to overall tonal coordination. Compared to the Octave and Alluxity, the pass precursor is suitable in the middle. While the Octave is light-footed and airy, the Alluxity is more grounded and earthy. It can’t be assumed to have an accurate list, but in the treble, it seems relatively mild than really “airy,” in the fundamental tone, bass, and deep bass there is more power than with the Californian amp, not to mention the Baden one.
When it comes to the deep bass – considered on its own – I would say that the Danish preamp is the most neutral of the three, i.e., it reaches the deepest, even more, profound than the pass. Example: Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin “Modul 15” (Album: Randori) I let it run in every test because the e-bass solo at the beginning, no matter how simple, reveals a lot about the lower level of the respective component. It seems more balanced over the Pre-One since more energy comes at the bottom. At the same time, the Pass offers the comparatively “louder” upper bass impulse, which can come across as beautifully dynamic, but perhaps also a bit one-sided. In any case, the Alluxity not only delivers more bass substance in general – that too – but also develops depth, which makes the electric bass appear more broadband in this piece. By the way, both preamps are contoured, although not bone dry, in the bass range, but the Danish one ultimately brings it across as more well-founded, fuller, and just more profound.
The slightly stronger gait in the basement continues in the fundamental tone, so the Alluxity Pre One appears sonorous in the mids, which is also helped by the slightly milder high tone. The whole thing has been executed with such a delicate hand that there are no masking effects in the mid-band; even a voice like Leonard Cohen’s does not become muddy, but rather its natural warmth is only accentuated.
The Alluxity’s slightly earthier timbre is more noticeable with female voices; a Julie Byrne breathes a tad less overtly ethereal and materializes more physically believably between the speakers if you know what I mean. Got something. Similarly with instruments – the timbre balance of a cello leans more towards the wooden body than towards the strings, the overtone range of a violin comes out a little more cautiously, and in combination with the well-nourished lower mids this results in a smooth, rounder violin tone than live from a distance of three meters … which should suit most classical music listeners.
More concrete, plastic, and 3D – these terms accumulate in my listening notes when I switch to the Alluxity preamp. The wonderfully physical image quality should be a fundamental reason audiophiles succumb to this preamp’s charm. And that reminds me, as mentioned above, of comparing the Octave with the Pass, only that it is now the preliminary stage, which is comparatively (!) cloudy.
One might think that the more resonant, bass-heavy device reproduces sounds more prominent. The opposite is the case. With the Alluxity, I think instruments and voices are drawn more compactly but with sharper edges. But it’s not just about precisely framed edges; with the Pre One, the third dimension, the “depth” of the individual sounds, also seems more elaborate than I’m usually presented with.
This is the unique strength of this preamp – it can be experienced well, for example, with the live version of “Con toda palabra” by Lhasa de Sela (live in Reykjavik;): Not only does Ms. de Sela stand in front of me as if sculpted, but also the audience noise ( clapping, shouts) “hang” more vividly in space, blurring less into a kind of background noise, to put it exaggeratedly. The whole piece thus seems more accurate; the illusion of being there is easier to achieve. That’s something central, I think.
The Alluxity preamp is spacious in terms of room dimensions. The virtual stage usually starts at or slightly before the stereo base. The aforementioned pass marches a little further and stretches the panorama a few centimeters wider – the Alluxity scores with the more clearly understandable depth gradation. The three-dimensional, concrete drawing of the individual sounds also ensures a transparent view to the rear. A trump card for listeners of high-quality jazz and classical music.
Dynamics & resolution
The general diction of the Alluxity preamp – slightly warmer plus very vivid imaging – reminds me of the Luxman C-700u for the same price, and the high resolution offered is another similarity. More precisely, this particular kind of “dissolution on second hearing”. In both cases, the presence and the treble are not exhibited nakedly or brightly illuminated but conversely organically integrated into the resonant tone of voice – yet nothing is swallowed up. The Alluxity Pre One paints tones of acoustic instruments in a beautifully opaque manner, but at the same time differentiated, it is anything but a homogenized warm mass. This resolution also pays off in the vocal range: Concrete, to the point, every breath and the whole rough and creaky back in Nick CavesThroat – like on “Higgs Boson Blues” (Album: Push the Sky Away) – the Danish preamp pulls it out. But casually embedded and not swaggeringly ostentatious.
Dynamically, however, the Alluxity preamp is ahead of the Luxman, which I mainly attribute to the emphasis and stringency in the deep bass. When “something is going on” – orchestral tutti, massive, heavy chords on the piano, sub-bass attacks in electronica – things are not only juicier but also more edgy and sudden.
Transients and impulses in the mid-band are realistic with the Pre One, but some competitors convey piano attacks, string cracks, horns, etc., even more pointedly. For example, a Moon Evolution 740P (about 9,000 euros) lets impulsive sounds through more undisguised and more brutal, while the Alluxity is milder. Of course, the two represent different sound philosophies anyway. In particular, the Canadian preamp has the tonal effect of the famous “piece of wire with amplification,” while the Danish preamp, as already mentioned, allows itself a slightly sonorous tone. While this is still a matter of taste, Alluxity has the edge in terms of the plastic quality of the image. In any case, I don’t remember such a catchy and concrete representation of the music from the Moon.
The overall package is right here: the preamplifier Alluxity Pre One is processed like a safe, has a timelessly modern look, and offers many tonal merits. The future owner should prefer a slightly sonorous tuning to a brighter one, but there should be such headphones that are not too scarce. One caveat: The Dane’s gait might be too subtle for real listeners because it’s all about nuances, not colors. Good this way.
In addition to the charming combination of good resolution and a warmer tone of voice, the catchy, concrete depiction of the music is the main strength of the Alluxity preamp. This quality provided me with classical music and well-captured jazz, folk – and with voices! – for moments of goosebumps. I can only warmly recommend a trial hearing if you feel addressed by the sound profile described.
Profile Alluxity Pre-One:
- Overall tonally on the slightly warmer side, the bass/fundamental tone has a bit more power, and the treble is milder.
- The bass goes very deep; qualitatively, one can speak of semi-dry – it can be even more contoured, but above all, even softer.
- The mids are not just sonorous but very nicely resolved. This wealth of detail fits the expectations in this price range. Still, it is particularly charming precisely because it is not served as if on a silver platter but is integrated in a downright “dignified” way. Voices and instruments, therefore, come across as particularly natural.
- The presences and the treble are an iota milder. If the rest of the chain tends in the same direction, there may be a lack of “tingling” at the top; in neutral systems, it ensures improved long-term listening suitability.
- Good dynamic behavior. Impulses come authentically, but some competitors get straight to the point.
- The virtual stage opens at or slightly before the baseline. Unobtrusive width of the image, excellent depth graduation. The fact that it comes across so well is also due to the main strength of this preliminary stage: the Alluxity reproduces in an extraordinarily plastic and concrete manner. Individual sounds do not just fade away but are modeled in 3D. And because all the musicians stand so accurately in their places, the staggering succeed convincingly. Class.
- Category: high-level preamp
- Price: 7,950 euros
- Inputs: 5 x high level (2 x RCA, 3 x XLR); RJ45 (servicing)
- Outputs: 2 x pre-out (RCA, XLR); Bypass (RCA)
- Dimensions & weight: 435 x 105 x 305 mm (WxHxD), approx. 14 kg
- Colors: black, grey, silver, orange
- Power consumption when idling: about 20 watts
- Other: remote control
- Guarantee: 2 years