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Unison Research Unico CDE CD Player Review Print E-mail
Friday, 13 July 2012
Article Index
Unison Research Unico CDE CD Player Review
Set Up and Listening Cont.

Before you get the impression the CDE was best suited for acoustic music and voices only, let me tell you this player can rock. I pulled out the sublime Jimi Plays Berkeley CD, an album that documents Jimi Hendrix’s amazing second show from May, 1970 at the Berkeley Community Center. The show was mixed from the original multi-track analog tapes by Eddie Kramer, Hendrix’s original engineer and archivist.  

When I hit play, I experienced one of the most hair-raising listening sessions I can ever remember. When Hendrix steps to the mic and addresses the crowd, then plays the first few notes of “Pass It On”, I can honestly say for the first time that I had a glimpse of what a colossal sound he produced with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox on that stage. All of the energy and focus of this amazing performance came through shockingly. Believe me, this is no teetotaling CD player.

Digital input:

I used the coaxial digital input briefly with my Squeezebox Touch as the source.  I used a DHLabs D-75 coaxial cable. It performed beautifully as a DAC, with the same qualities described above. The only limitation is that the input can only handle up to 44.1 Khz standard CD resolution material, which at this price point raises a bit of an eyebrow. None the less, a very nicely engineered digital input.


Italian company Unison Research has dazzled me in the past with their Unico line. I was highly impressed with the CDPrimo, as well as their Primo hybrid integrated amplifier. However, I was not prepared for the level of performance and musical purity the CDE brought to the table.

Ultimately, what separates special source components, amplifications, and speakers from the rest is their ability to allow you to experience a performance rather than just listening to a recording. The CDE was the most impressive CD player I have heard in this regard.  I would recommend the optional DAC board. It brings the price to $4120, not too much higher than the $3895 stock model, but according to Unison Research, a substantial upgrade. If shopping for a CD player in the $3500 to $4000 price range, I would say an audition of the Unison Research Unico CDE is mandatory.  If I was building my system from scratch, the CDE would be my disc player of choice.  


Unison Research Unico CDE CD Player:
$3895  for silver.
$255 optional upgraded DAC board.
Technical characteristics
●    Transport: TEAC CD5010A
●    Digital interface: Crystal CS8420 – reduced clock jitter
●    - audio data correction
●    D/A Converter: Crystal CS4392, 24bit, 192kHz
●    Conversion: 24bit / 96kHz
●    Digital standard: AES3, IEC60958 (S/PDIF) e EIAJ CP-1201
●    Digital input (Ext): 44.1kHz
●    Digital output: 96kHz
●    Output stage: Dual triode cathode follower in Parallel
●    Valve complement: 4 x ECC83 (12AX7)
●    Line Outputs: 1 RCA, 1 XLR

Review System 1

CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Densen B310
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Belkin Gold (USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack

Review System 2

CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh  MA6600
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber Hero HB,  DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genisis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Pangea Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold


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