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Unison Research Unico P

 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9400
Registered: Feb-05
Here are some of my thoughts on the Unico.

Unison Research Unico P

System used for audition:

Rega R5 speakers
Rega Apollo cd player
Rega P3-24 turntable w/Dynavector 10x5
All van den Hul cables.

I've been living in my usual state of audio dissatisfaction for quite sometime. I enjoyed my all Rega system but something has been lacking. It felt kind of gray or uninteresting to me. I've tried various speakers without enhancing my overall level of happiness...oh sure one speaker had better imaging or better bass response but in the end it wasn't long before I was reaching for the old familiar R5's. So now what...can't afford any new gear and I really, really don't want to make another lateral move....oh well, live with it.

Then enters the Unico P.

So I'm talking with my friend of mine who is familiar with my gear and he says "it ain't gonna improve until you bid farewell to the Mira 3"....but I love my Mira 3, it matches my Apollo and has a fabulous phono stage..."so be it". So I'm browsing a used HiFi store's online inventory when I see this Unico P for less than I figure my Mira 3 is worth...hmm, I've heard good things about those...I wonder. I shoot 'em an email and his reply was;

"Thanks for your email. We were listening to the Unico on Saturday and heard a distinctive hum in both channels so I am going to have my technician check it out this week. If it get's a clean bill of health, I'll email you right away. For now, I'll remove it from the website."

Thus began the saga of the great transaction...a couple of days later it was;

The Unison is in the hands of our best surgeon right now. I think a tube simply went but we want to check the bias and make sure everything it okay. It will be 2 weeks until it's available again as he wants to test it under extreme hot and cold temperatures. Sorry for the delay.

Hmm...so I waited 2 weeks and called...."I'm sorry but our tech has been out with personal issues..." oy vey!

Finally and at long last I got the call, "we're shipping it down for your audition" Yippie!

Moments of disappointment quickly turn to excitement, followed by disappointment, followed by excitement and finally contentment.

When I arrived home from work last Thursday (½ hour early...I was fortunate enough to have a power outage at work) there sat a box on the front porch...Unico Research clearly legible on the box. Excited as I was I had promised my wife and that we would go to dinner with her daughter and granddaughter. So I slipped the box into the house and split.

Two long hrs later I was ready to start the listening. It took me all of 10 minutes to switch out the amps and prepare for listening.

Disappointment

First impression was that of a rather warm presentation but a bit dense with poor imaging but decent timbre. It had promise but that promise wasn't realized yet...then I remembered a review I read while waiting for the unit to be repaired. The reviewer stated;

"This amp scored a clear hit with all our listeners. It seems to have ticked all the boxes, and what's more the impression it made started well but got better. The praise began cautiously, with a warning note about slight veiling, but by the third track comments were uniformly positive."

http://www.techradar.com/reviews/audio-visual/hi-fi-and-audio/amplifiers/unison- unico-p-278302/review

So I felt that some patience might be rewarded...but dadburnit patient I'm not!

Excitement

As the first evening wore on the amp sounded better and better. I was very impressed by now...however I had no idea what was to come.

Night number 2..by Friday night the unit had been on 24 hrs and it was time to begin listening to music that has been giving my system a hard time. Music that I enjoy but that requires something special to really bring it out. What I was expecting to do is listen for sibilance, brightness, timbre, soundstage, imaging and all of those other audiophile goodies....what caught me by surprise was something altogether unexpected.

Remember this if nothing else about this amp...it communicates music and it flat boogies. This reminds me of what Frank Abela said long ago about the Mira 3, it has pace and timing but lacks Rhythm when compared to Naim...uh yeah and now compared to the Unico P. The sense of rhythm that I experienced with the Unico is part of another phenomenon with this amp that blew my mind...it's ability to articulate every line in a piece of music and weave it together where it all makes sense both individually as expressions of an artists ability and together as a coherent piece of art. Music that I liked before I now love as I can hear and more importantly feel all of it. I can now follow all of the lines in a piece of music while still tapping my toe to the overall piece...what a joy!

A great cd to listen to to feel what I'm talking about is the Luciana Souza's Brazilian Duos disc. When it's right she sounds dynamic with an incredible ability to communicate, her voice like the body of a gymnast moves with speed and cat like precision and her timbre is rich.

Lucinda Williams often sounds sibilant and her lyrics brilliant but a bit difficult to understand...not with the Unico P. Late night listening Friday to Lucinda's World Without Tears cd revealed and amp that is able to convey the difficult emotions that are always a part of Lucinda's music. Her lyrics were easy to hear and better yet to feel and the music made sense as part of the whole

I didn't leave vinyl out....I tried one of my favorites..don't laugh...The Ozark Mountain Daredevil's It'll Shine When It Shines. I turned the volume up so that it was like one of my summer late night listening sessions and it sounded fabulous. Rich and warm with plenty of detail. In this area alone it was not a lot better than the Mira 3 but was at least as good.

Oh yeah and I guess I forgot to mention bass extension and hi end and all of that, so what. It's excellent but that is so much not the point with this amp. It's all about musical communication...that's what's important isn't it?!

Diasppointment

Hum...oh no, I HATE HUM!!!

Wait a second...don't panic.. So how much hum? In a quiet room you have to put your ear within' 18 inches or so to hear it. But is it just mine, is there something wrong? No. I emailed other owners and they stated that they too have the hum and that it bothers them not a bit. OK...keep in mind that I'm trading my 2 year old amp that has the same retail value as this amp...and did ya read other comments here, ya I'm keeping' it!

Excitement

The next day I start to play my favorite music and...no you're kidding...it sounds better yet. Holy smokes how long can this continue? Honestly I don't know. Everyday it sounds better, it hasn't been turned off since I first fired it up. It just keeps getting better and better.

By now as you may have guessed I've boxed up the Mira 3, thanked it for 2 years of unfailing service, and bid it farewell.

Contentment

That's where I'm at today. Content in the fact that every piece I play sounds like music, real music. It's a process of rediscovery as every cd I play sounds better than I've heard it before.

Well that's about it, sorry not much in the way of audiophile stuff. Just an emotional journey for me and one I'm glad I undertook.

Thanks to all of my friends here at Ecoustics, Bill (Cableguy) from Audiokarma and Dale from Eugene HiFi. It's been real...musical!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 2420
Registered: Jun-07
Wow!! Congrats so much on the trade. Gotta love a straight trade for a better amp.

The Hum is definitely normal.

Enjoy it all man.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9407
Registered: Feb-05
Thanks Nick, I'm lovin' it!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 13499
Registered: May-04
.

If I remember correctly, the tubes are simply in the line stage of the pre amp and the phono section runs through the tubed line stage for a few dB more gain after passing through a solid state phono pre amp. If that's the case, you might try some different tubes in the unit. This would be a natural swap if the tubes in there now are the stock OEM tubes. OEM tubes are not always chosen with sound quality as the highest priority. I certainly can't promise anything but it might be worth spending about $30-40 to try.

.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2145
Registered: Nov-05
Nice write-up Art. It really is great to experience some sort of revelation in this music hobby. I was looking at some Unison Research products here on an Aussie retail site. They ain't that cheap here (like just about about all decent components) but they read and are reviewed very well. So how long before the Unison upgrade? (grin)
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9410
Registered: Feb-05
A friend at another forum is going to send me a couple of tubes that have worked well with this amp for him.

Thanks MR...quite sometime before the Unison upgrade..lol!
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 747
Registered: Jun-08
Wonderful to hear your impressions Art and your emotions come across and say it all, just like the music.

Getting something you like much more with no additional cash outlay is a win-win for both you and your dealer.

All the best.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9504
Registered: Feb-05
This continues to be an awesome amp for me. I've done some tube rolling and am sticking with the EH for now.

Big change for me is switching from van den Hul speaker cable to Gutwire. The Gutwire Basic 2 flat mopped up the floor with the D352...as it should as it cost nearly twice as much. I hadn't even thought of trying the Gutwire speaker cable as I've tried the IC's and they pretty bad...dull and lifeless with little detail...the exact opposite is true of the speaker cable, I'm using a single wire run with the Gutwire Synergy 2 jumpers (which retail for damn near as much as the vdH D352). The synergy with this speaker wire and the vdh IC's and power cords seems excellent. The whole system sounds coherent and beautiful. The Gutwire has changed the fruit of my loom...ouch!
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 1905
Registered: May-06
Art, I'm having a similar experience moving from the 7300 to the 240 mono-blocks. The all tubes is a trade off of sorts but you stated it very well, you are so pulled into the music the other qualitative traits, which are all there, become so secondary. The pics I put up yesterday are my quick set up. I am going to redesign the placement of my gear and will eventually try my DIY speaker wires with very short runs to see if it changes things for the positive or not.

Just think Art, if you liked what tubes did for you in a hyrbrid imagine how much you might like a full tube set up.


Sorry, LOL, I just had to do that to you!
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2175
Registered: Nov-05
And if that doesn't do it, then just get a Musical Fidelity A5 and wallow in the splendour of muscial nirvana.

 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9510
Registered: Feb-05
I saw the pics of your aweseom new amps Mike...delicious.

I had an all tube setup with the Prima Luna - not a Mac mind you - and it didn't have the overall quality of sound that the Unison does. Maybe I like the hybrid approach, or perhaps I've not owned a Mac yet!

Still lovin' that MF are ya MR...excellent!
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 550
Registered: Jul-07
Delighted to hear the new amp is working out Art. Definately try some different tubes, as the right combination might find you a whole other gear. There is nothing like the pleasure of rediscovering your music collection, and the secrets hidden within.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2177
Registered: Nov-05
Yes Art I am and I'm pleased you like the Unison.
I came close to buying a tube amp the other day (just for the heck of it), but we are going away for a holiday at the end of the week and I decided I was being a little selfish so the cash will come in handy. Darn it :-(

BTW - the MF is even better since I put it on an inch thick cutting board with brass cones to isolate it from the glass shelving. Same as I ended up doing with the Apollo. Music now is more satifying than I've ever heard.

 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9511
Registered: Feb-05
Very good MR!

One bit of clarification. I bought the Gutwire cables on clearance for less than 1/2 retail. The comparably priced vdH is better by a distance than the Gutwire...I just didn't have the scratch for it and they don't make a jumper. vdH is still the best cable that I know of at any price point. My opinion ofcourse.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2180
Registered: Nov-05
VdH is the best I've tried as well, Art.
The CS122 Biwire and the D102 Mk111 were Ebay acquisitions and were won for a reasonable price. Worth much more than I paid imo.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9513
Registered: Feb-05
I have a friend who just picked up the CS122 and is very pleased with it. I used to have the D102 MkIII...both excellent cables.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 10766
Registered: Feb-05
Just in case anyone is interested I am selling the Unison Research integrated. PM me if you have any interest.
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