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Unison Unico P and Anthem 225

 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1135
Registered: Dec-06
Continued from the Integrated Bargains! thread...

I'll run over things as briefly as I can. Over the last year or so I grabbed a few pieces to try out (stuff that was either used or demo/clearance). In addition to the Unico I grabbed the Anthem 225 and also a pair of Studio 20. Finally, I also picked up a used Naim CD5X. I traded in the Unico and Studio 20 just yesterday for the demo TB2i that High End Audio Exchange had. I still have the CD5X and 225, but I see myself likely selling the 225 and trying a Nait 5i with the CD5X. And I will either keep the Naim setup or my current gear. I could hang onto the 225 however, if it is most impressive with the PMC.

Okay, so getting on to the Unico. Of the three amps, I believe it sounded most like live music. The clarity and dynamics were a cut above. Drums had a livelier snap to them, higher notes on the piano shimmered as they should, and all piano notes sounded like a percussion instrument when the note was struck. Where it came up lacking against the 2010s2 was in terms of excitement, PRaT, the feeling that music was always moving forward and in proper time with the various parts to a song interacting with each other. Perhaps it's a synergy thing, the Exposure simply matches up beautifully with my MOON player and speakers. Not just that, but I got my speaker cables as an ideal match to the Exposure amp...run a different amp and maybe different cables would be called for to get the best out it.

The 225 brings prodigious power. It sounds extremely clean and clear and doesn't lose much in terms of PRaT, and the sound is a little more open and effortless. I think all three amps are excellent however, and which sounds best will depend on associated gear and preferences. No amp walked away with a clear decision, and at various time I changed my mind on what I thought I liked best. What I'm not crazy about with the 225 is the volume control. A light tap on the remote up or down moves the volume knob too far. So tiny adjustments while you listen cannot be made. You have to get up and adjust for this on the amp itself. Not a big deal if you don't tinker with the volume level often, but I do.

To me the 225 and Unico sounded better with the Naim player. Just an overall better balance. The Exposure sounded really thin when connected to the Naim, so I guess the Unico and 225 seem to have a bit more weight to their sound. Of course, I'm probably not hearing the full potential of the CD5X unless it's in an all Naim system.

Quick note on the speakers...I had the 20 break in for about 100 hours. I was prepared for a bright sound (going by comments online) but I found it wasn't bright at all. Paradigm measures flat, so I think that's right. It was very forward though, which I thought I'd like, but it was a little too much. Putting the grills on (as Paradigm suggests) alleviated this greatly. It was now much easier to listen to and excellent overall, but the grills come at the expense of focus and imaging. I preferred my Castles, but did not really get a chance to play around with the toe in of the Studio 20 and overall placement. I think I could probably get them to sound better to my ears if I had, but I jumped at the chance to get the PMC instead. The 20 did sound best with the 225 though. It is not as easy a load as the Castle. With the Castle the various amps would produce very little heat, but significantly more when powering the Paradigm. The 225 seemed to produce a less congested sound when the volume was turned up. The Unico and 2010s2 are fine for reasonable levels though, as neither amp really struggled (I don't need to turn the volume up that much in my small room to get to pretty high levels).
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3591
Registered: Jun-07
Dan, thanks for the great review. I am looking at taking the plunge on a integrated amp that can musically make me as happy as the Nait 5i has, but offer the features I am currently looking for, like multi-room control and B speaker support. The Anthem may be on the short list. My dealer got back to me today stating he would give me the Cambridge 840a for 1000 taxes in new. Thats the V2 model (latest). It has all the features I want, but can it match the Naim's sense of music? What is keeping me on the bend is with this promo/special order I can demo it then return it. I do not want to downgrade in pure enjoyment sonically just for features. That has always been what I have been against. I have my system in a fair sized room now, so a subwoofer connection would be a safety net for the future. It is great to hear your opinions of those amps, as I have had my eye on the beefy Anthem, and also on the 80 watt per channel version of the Unison Research Unico amp. I can pick up used for 1000. That is my price range roughly.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1136
Registered: Dec-06
Hey Nick. What speakers are you running? If I recall right, you bought David's Sttafs. Naim are a good match with Totem from all I've heard, but I'm not sure about the others. I wouldn't be surprised if the Unison does well with them, plus you can always roll the tubes if you want a different presentation. But does the Unison give you all the features that the Anthem or CA does?

You may be able to email Vince at Totem directly. I believe he answers questions. He might have a recommendation from the ones you are considering.

But I would say if you can demo the 840 in your system, you may as well do it. That way you know for sure if it'll sound right.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3592
Registered: Jun-07
Hey Dan. Yeah currently using Totem Sttafs, with Naim Nait 5i and MSB DAC. Its the most content I have been, and am loving the sound. Again, what is killing me with the Naim, is wanting a few extra features that are simply not there. Usually I would not care about features but my priorities have changed slightly. Down the road I may want to combine movies and music into one two channel system, perhaps with an A/B speaker setup with four Totems and a sub down the road. Or maybe, I will keep the Theater, in which I never use anymore.lol. I am really undecided.

I just purchased a 840a from my dealer today. He gave it to me for 869.99 plus taxes which comes to 1K all in. Great deal considering this amp is over 2K retail for the last 5 years. Reviewers in every magazine have been raving about this amp for the last few years ever since the version 2 came out. Apparently its not your typical Cambridge amp, sort of like how the new NAD 375bee is not your typical NAD amp, but in fact holds their own sonically to amps two to three times their cost. Well I take reviews lightly as, associated gear and room has everything to do with how the amp does, so I will heavily A/B it against the Naim. Winner stays, regardless of features. From what I hear, the Cambridge is also a awesome match with the Totems, as the Naim has been.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1137
Registered: Dec-06
Killer deal, Nick. Regardless of features is right, as you have to love the sound. If you don't you won't listen, and there's no point in owning a system if you don't listen to it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3597
Registered: Jun-07
Absolutely Dan. LIke David said before, people find it hard to believe a CA amp can out due the big dogs simply due to the badge it carries. It doesnt have the bragging rights. I am ok with that. I really dont care to be honest. I have heard big badged "High End" brands that I consistently have not been impressed with. Everyone has different preferences but Dave has owned more amps then anyone I know ranging from budget to awesome high end and the CA amp (correct me if Im wrong Dave) is the only amp he really kept on loving, to the point where he came back to it. Dave can hear with the best of them too, and I trust his ears. To me, that warrants the CA entering my domain. lol.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1445
Registered: Jul-07
Nice pick-up Nick. The 840 is highly regarded. I'm also one that doesn't give a toads posterior what name is on the box. I own what I own because it sounds good to me, and it didn't cost me an arm or a leg.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3599
Registered: Jun-07
Thanks Chris. I completely agree bud!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4876
Registered: Feb-07
You're right Nick. I've gone full-circle with the 840A.

I even put it up against a Mac integrated with your Sttafs, and liked the CA better than the Mac.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3602
Registered: Jun-07
Doesn't surprise me at all David. Finally got word from my dealer and should have the CA within a few days.
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