Yes, this preamplifer together with the Plinius SA-REF power amplifier is very expensive, very heavy and about as environmentally friendly as an oil tanker – however, we can't help but love it.
At £18,500, this combo sits in the highest boughs of the amplifier tree, but it justifies every penny. There are many great high-end pre/powers that cost less, but none comes close to matching this pairing for clarity, dynamics and insight.
Used in a similarly capable and pricey system, the Tautoro/SA-Ref sounds wonderful. It delivers Timbaland's Shock Value with all the brutality it demands while rendering something delicate such as Tracy Chapman's debut album with utmost care.
You'd expect any quality amp to play a wide range of music well, but it's the way this set-up combines force with finesse that really impresses.
Quality moving magnet/moving coil phono stage
The Tautoro is a great preamp. Like the power amp, it's very well made and simple to use, while incorporating all the essentials: balanced and unbalanced connections, a quality moving magnet/moving coil phono stage and a fine headphone output.
Most headphone outputs are mediocre afterthoughts, yet the Tautoro's is as clean as the standard output. The preamp also comes with one of the Plinius's lovely solid metal remote controls.
For all the amplifier's bulk, it's so fuss-free in use. It's common to find similar high-end products that hum or click when swapping inputs, or that have cheap control buttons. The Plinius pair suffers from no such shortcomings, which bodes well for long-term use.
We listened to this amp extensively, yet never failed to be sucked in by its excellence. It makes for a hugely enjoyable experience that, in terms of value for money, almost makes sense. Almost.