Martin Logan Unison – Review
Having a dedicated listening room led me to buying a separate sound system for the living room for the TV. I just couldn’t enjoy the speakers embedded in the TV. Actually, at one point I was thinking of sacrificing the dedicated listening room to move the system in the living room. I have tested a few speakers in the living room and the acoustics just suck. Fixing that would be too expensive & time consuming, not to say that you need wife approved acoustic treatment.
The problems in the dedicated listening room were mostly fixed by the arc room correction feature included in the new Martin Logan ESL-11A. Before this, I fixed the issue manually, by measuring the room and applying eq correction. The ARC system in ESL-11 works better than I was doing, so I am very pleased by this feature included in the new Martin Logan speaker series.
I have recently noticed that they have released a few new products, one of them being Unison (wireless music streamer, pre-amp, room correction dsp). Looking at the price, the unit became even more interesting, as offering all of these in 400$ is really awesome.
Luckily, Cristi, the local Martin Logan dealer (www.jack-fi.ro) had one in stock and he was kind enough to lend a unit to me.
Looks & Presentation
The first thing you will notice, is that the size of the unit is quite small. The second thing would be that it’s made of plastic, and the third is that it’s really lite. Very a-typical for an audio pre-amplifier/streamer, right? In terms of looks, it’s a black plastic box, nothing much there. The build quality is OK, but it’s plastic. Well, I am not complaining, just trying to set the right expectations. I guess, this contributed a lot to offer so many features in such low price.
Specs & Technology
Left/Right RCA Analog, Digital Optical (Toslink),
Ethernet 10/100, AC Power
Apple AirPlay®, DTS Play-Fi®
Left/Right RCA Analog, Digital Optical (Toslink), 12V Trigger
2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz; 802.11 g/n
ARC™ (Anthem Room Correction) with included calibrated microphone
1.5 lbs. (0.7 kg)
Size (H x W x D)
3.35” x 7.95” x 7.95” (8.5cm x 20.2cm x 20.2cm)
So, as you can see, it has lots of inputs and outputs, making it a very versatile unit. I personally tested it through my sound system in the living room, with TV as the main source.
Featuring both digital optical and analog inputs and outputs and a 12-Volt trigger, Unison is a dedicated pre-amplifier designed to add DTS Play-Fi and Apple AirPlay
wireless streaming to existing audio/video systems. Source rebroadcast functionality allows an incoming digital or analog source to be rebroadcast to any Play-Fi device
in your network—perfect for the vinyl enthusiast. When you experience it, you will agree: high quality, network-adaptable DTS Play-Fi streaming technology is the
perfect high performance match for high performance MartinLogan loudspeakers. Anthem Room Correction (ARC™) Technology is the industry’s best user-controlled DSP room tuning innovation. Using advanced DSP software and a calibrated microphone, ARC tunes speaker performance to compensate for your room’s unique characteristics, ensuring perfect sound in any listening space.
Listening Impressions & Tests
Sound system: Piega Coax 30.2 speakers, Raimond Audio Power Amplifier, Chord Mojo, Arcam IR DAC.
The first thing you have to do is to configure the wireless settings of the unit and add it to your wireless network. I used the DTS Play-Fi for Android and it was pretty straight forward. The next thing I did, was to measure the room and apply the ARC Room Correction. Knowing what big difference with my ESL-11A, I was really excited to test it in the living room.
I tried to do what was written in the manual, so I tried to download the Anthem Software from the Anthem website. The installer didn’t work. Finally, I downloaded it from Martin Logan’s website and everything went smoothly.
I applied the room correction and started listening to some music. The difference was obvious since the first 3 seconds. The bass was now much cleaner, more controlled and not resonating with the room any longer. That was a big ripple effect in other departments as well, as the music was more energetic, faster, more detailed, cleaner, etc. I was also pleased to noticed that some reflections in sound disappeared as well. This was very apparent in music but also in movies as well. What can I say, the result was just as impressive as expected.
The next thing I did, was to test the wireless streaming through Unison. DTS Play-Fi made it really easy to connect to my Tidal account and stream my favorite music. You have a large variety of streaming platforms like Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, etc.
This is when the DAC inside Unison comes in. It does it’s job and it sounds quite good, but don’t expect the performance of a high end DAC. Having a power amplifier, I had to play with the volume from the Play-Fi application and I found it a little hard to get my desired volume, as it’s not very smooth. However, it did it’s job and it was really easy and convenient to access and to listen to my favorite music on Tidal.
I was wondering if I can use the Optical Input from the TV to Unison and the Unison to my DAC and still use the ARC correction software, but it didn’t work. It would have been incredibly cool if it did, as the Correction would have been applied on the digital stream and you could have used the full power of your DAC. Well, at 400$ you get more than you paid for really, but that would have been extremely cool.
Would I recommend this unit? Oh…hell yes! This little black box does a great deal for it’s price. If you want to get rid of room related sound issues and to easily stream your music from any known streaming service, this is exactly what you were looking for!
- Really versatile unit with lots of inputs/outputs
- Relatively easy to setup both wireless and room correction
- The ARC Room Correction does wonders with the sound issues in your room
- Wireless streaming works nicely and sounds good
- Good sound overall
- Very good price for what it offers
- Considering it’s a pre-amplifier. A remote would have been great!