|Linn Unidisk 1.1 Universal Disc Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Saturday, 01 October 2005|
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The remote is slim and sexy on first impression, but falls flat when you start using it. The text of the buttons is too small for my poor eyesight and the buttons are not backlit, a serious shortcoming for a product designed to operate in dark rooms. The buttons do glow but fade quickly. The buttons are all the same shape, with the only notable size difference in the disc control and navigation buttons. All of the functions that control the Unidisk 1.1 are there and once you have the unit set-up, the only buttons you are likely to use beyond disc control and navigation would be the surround and audio adjust buttons, so arguably you only have to familiarize yourself with the basics.
The Unidisk 1.1 has no bass management for DVD-Audio, SACD, and DTS encoded high-resolutions formats. Linn is leaving that detail with the intended mate, the Kisto System Controller, which I will explore in my upcoming review of this component. If your preamp/processor does not have its own bass management and you want to have the ability to adjust your low frequencies with these formats, you will be frustrated.
In comparison to other, more recently designed high-end DVD players from companies like Classe and Meridian, the omission of 1080p video scaling is certainly a downside for the videophile. While you can use external boxes from companies like DVDo, many of today’s top DVD players come with powerful video scalers that do 1080p for half or less money than the Linn Unidisk. Being first to market, it’s understandable that this unit does not have an HDMI output but it does have a DVI connection that can take an HDMI adapter. Make no mistake, the picture that can be made by the Unidisk for traditional DVDs is very special and very satisfying
I am totally smitten with the Unidisk 1.1. This universal player is a great argument for those in the high-end circles who love their single-box solutions but long for simplicity and ease of use. For SACD, DVD-Audio and DTS-encoded music, the Unidisk 1.1 sounded lush and inviting. Never edgy or analytical, the Unidisk 1.1 had a way with some aggressive material that made it more listenable but not at the expense of the higher frequencies’ resolution or detail. Imaging was pinpoint accurate and there was a newfound presence to familiar discs that was captivating. The soundstage was wide and deep with two-channel material, while 5.1 music took on new character, capturing more of the inner detail of the recording. CD playback was simply superb. I found myself rejuvenated by the format. Pitch accuracy, transparency, macro and micro dynamics, spaciousness and three-dimensionality are the best I’ve heard in my system.
But you can’t forget all of the Unidisk’s other abilities. DVD-Video playback was also spectacular. Colors, black levels and resolution were stunning on my projector. Movies had a smooth filmlike look to them, without losing any detail. I found no stair-stepping effects, artifacts or any chroma anomalies that detracted from the image. Dark scenes benefited from the Unidisk 1.1 with sharper detail. The unit ran nearly flawlessly, with only one hiccup on a DVD-RW of a home movie that made the image hesitate. DVD-Audio, SACD, and DTS discs played faithfully and sounded the best I’ve heard in my rig. When all was said and done, the performance of the Unidisk 1.1 was unmatched and had me smiling from ear to ear. I recommend this player to anyone who wants uncompromised performance and the flexibility of a single box that plays everything.