- Transport: TEAC CD5010A
- Digital interface: Wolfson Micro WM8804
- Sample Rate Converter: Burr Brown SRC4192
- Convertiter D/A: Wolfson Micro WM8524
- Sampling: 24bit / 96kHz
- Digital Standard: AES3, IEC60958 (S/PDIF) e EIAJ CP-1201
- Digital input (Ext): Isochronous-Out 16bit / 32-48kHz (USB-B)
- Digital output: 44.1kHz
- Output stage: solid state, Class A
- Outputs: 1 RCA
- Gain: Triode Class-A
- Valve: 1 x ECC82 (12AU7)
- Power conumption: 100W max
- Dimensions (la x lu x alt): 43.5 x 43 x 9.5 cm
- Net weight: 10 kg
The Italians have a reputation for unique design, and Unison’s Unico CD Primo CD player is not going to do anything to dispel it: it’s a most unusual design—dare I say ‘unique’? For me, the single aspect of the design that is most likely to polarise buyers’ opinions will be the large wooden ellipse with the metallic ‘UR’ initials that is inset in the front panel. You’re either going to love it or hate it. I may reveal my own thoughts on the matter further on in this review, but in the meantime, my first thought on seeing it was: ‘What were they thinking?’ That aside, a feature of the CD Primo that will be loved by all is that it has a USB input, so that if you have music files stored on your computer (32kHz, 44.1kHz or 48kHz sample rate only), you can use the Primo as an external DAC.
Despite its ability to be used as an external DAC, the CD Primo’s prime purpose is to play CDs, and it’s set up very well to do that, with a neat slot-loading CD tray at the left side of the front panel, towards the top. Located just off-centre to the right is a very large—and I mean very large!—front panel display. Off to the right of this display is a circular window that doubles as an infra-red receiver, to pick up commands from the supplied IR remote, and a light sensor that alters the brightness of the main front panel display according to how much ambient light is in the room.
The transport controls rather oddly, but very artistically, sweep downwards from the IR window, starting with the Eject button, and continuing through the Play/Stop button, then the Track Search (Reverse) and Track Search (Forward) buttons. As you can see, you only get the basics if you don’t use the remote! Actually, you don’t get a whole lot more control over the player even if you do use the remote, but it does add the ability to change the time display on the front panel, access the two repeat modes and get direct access to tracks by using numeric buttons to select particular tracks. One advantage of using the remote is that you won’t have to touch the front panel of the CD Primo. This is an advantage because I found the surface finish Unison Research uses on the black version picked up fingerprints very easily… yet they weren’t as easy to remove. The silver version is easier to keep clean!
The rear panel of the Unison Research is quite bare: just a single co-axial digital output connector (gold-plated RCA), a USB connector (device), a pair of gold-plated unbalanced analogue outputs (RCA) and a standard IEC 240V mains power socket.
Harking back to the fact that you can also use the CD Primo as an external DAC, it will also have another—fairly esoteric!—application in some systems that already have an external DAC, but one without a USB input. If this sounds like your system, you can actually add the CD Primo into this chain in such a way that your computer connects via USB to the Primo CD, after which you can link the Primo CD’s digital output to the digital input of your DAC! In other words, the Primo manages the USB-to-digital conversion and your external DAC takes care of the final digital-to-analogue conversion.
As you have no doubt gathered, this is a quirky CD player with a real personality (and look) that’s all its own but hey, it’s Italian, so think Alfa Romeo, Vespa, Ferrari, Ducati and… umm Peroni… and rejoice in the fact that this is a CD player that will make your CDs sound better than they ever have before.