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Unisinger UIA – 2 Series Platinum loudspeakers Review

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Debuting its UIA-2 Platinum loudspeaker system at the 2018 California Audio Show, Unisinger is registered in California while its speakers are engineered and made in Dalian, a port city in northeastern China. Dr. Rong Zhang, Unisinger CEO in charge of operations and direction of the company, is a Stanford Ph.D. in Chemical Physics (1990), and a postdoc afterwards.

The engineering department for product design, prototype building and product manufacturing is headed by Mr. Liu Wei. Marketing within China is led by a third person, Mr. Liu Ge. Unisinger employs a total of around twenty employees.

The company currently offers four models, the UIA-2/Silver, UIA-2/Gold, UIA-2/Gold Plus and UIA-2/Platinum, the last being the subject of this review. The cabinets of all four models are made from aluminum alloy in a cylindrical shape, featuring a main cavity with a central ‘waist’ the diameter of which is narrower than the upper and lower body. The airflow created within the cavity is such that the velocity at the waist is significantly greater than that in the top and bottom ends, thereby forming the “Venturi” effect in the cavity: “When the top (or bottom) speaker unit vibrates to produce a reciprocating airflow, the airflow from the large diameter end moving toward the smaller diameter end will produce an airflow compression effect at the smaller end. When the airflow moves from the smaller end toward the large end, the airflow accelerates the diffusion effect at the exit point, so that the standing wave in the cavity can be effectively eliminated, while the low frequency dynamic response can be significantly enhanced.”

Unisinger claims such physics reduces standing waves inside the speaker while enhancing low frequency aerodynamic response. The fact that the main cavity is made of aluminum alloy goes to show the company’s determination and availability of resources in pursuing solid and reliable results with the design concept.

Almost four feet tall, the UIA-2/Platinum is a three-way design. The top driver is a Seas one-inch front-firing metal dome tweeter with silk weave, aka fabric surround. Its design and development parameters include a remarkably low-frequency cutoff point at an extended 1.5-2kHz, so as to connect with the midrange smoothly. Tonal design parameters include “‘bright[er], delicate, warm’ and capable of ‘high resolution.’”

Unisinger turned to Scan Speak for the critical midrange application and adopted the 7-inch Revelator 18M/4631T00. Well known for its sliced paper cone technology, the slices of the unit “are filled with damping glue which dramatically reduces break-up modes in the diaphragm. In comparison with ScanSpeak’s low-loss linear suspension and the patented Symmetrical Drive (SD-1), it represents a breakthrough in midrange clarity and overall smooth frequency response characteristics.”

The tweeter mount rises out of a tube through the back, thus perching out from the mouth of a distinctly reverse horn. Beneath it and firing upward is the seven-inch sliced paper cone midrange. Downward firing is the ten-inch aluminum cone subwoofer.

The Platinum’s downward firing subwoofer is an aluminum Seas D1001-04L26ROY, ported in the rear for increased airflow and hence, output, and a true quarter-pounder. Because it weighs 22 pounds, features a 2.2-inch maximum excursion and possesses 1.2 T of magnetic flux density, the woofer has a moving mass of a quarter of a pound. It leads the pack in cone rigidity, efficiency, power handling and mass minimization for the lowest distortions in bottom-end strength.

Another loudspeaker system of fame that also uses all-aluminum cone woofers is the Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus.

In 2016, the company set out to release a DIY speaker kit by the end of the year, but it got ahead of schedule and built the first prototype within three months. The result was “a square column with mid/low unit face up and the tweeter in another box face front.” The performance was such that the company proceeded to make a mold by casting an alloy cavity for the speaker. This time, the second version was developed after eight months and featured the first Venturi tube design; the base was square-shaped where the 2-way crossover board was installed. In the third and final version seven months later, the bottom of the Venturi tube was enlarged into a skirt shape where a 10-inch woofer with a downward firing unit was installed to form a 3-way design.

In total, it took Unisinger nineteen months to go from prototype to production.

In theory, a speaker that is constructed of an ultra stiff material has the advantage of being less sympathetic to resonance, and it doesn’t hurt that this constructed cylinder has no corners, stores no energy, is completely full-range and weighs only 77 lbs. So what if it resembles a nuclear power plant?

Unisinger calls the design the “non-baffle.” Quoting Dr. Zhang: “The idea is to eliminate the baffle to form a ‘point sound source’, especially for the high-frequency tweeter unit. This design really brings us the deep and wide soundstage effect, as well as well defined instrument/vocal position for the sound reproduction, reflecting the positions of the instruments/vocal sounds for the recording. In addition, the point sound source also improves the phase relationship between the left and right speakers, so that our speaker system can reflect the phase information in the recording, giving a vivid and realistic sound field. One of the most distinguishing aspects of our speaker is that the normal sound reproduction is out of the box (脱箱-ridding the box). This becomes significant if one uses the system to play a movie soundtrack. Even just using the two main speakers, it can actually form a quasi-surround sound in the room very similar to what one experiences in the movie theater. In contrast, a speaker with a baffle would normally destroy the phase information in the recording so that to render the sound as coming out from the speaker.”

Particularly noteworthy is the tweeter’s lack of baffle, rendering it a ‘quasi-point sound-source.’ Dr. Zhang explains the quasi-point sound-source technology in the following:

“The ideal stereo sound reproduction source, especially for the higher frequencies, should be a point, so-called a point sound source. However, in real life, the speaker unit is an area, not really a single point. Therefore, this smaller sized speaker unit forms a quasi-sound point. Most of the speaker design has a face board, where multiple speaker units are mounted on the board. The sound, therefore, comes out from the board, not from the individual speaker units (due to sound diffraction effects). In our design, we choose to design the speaker with no face board, to make the sound source as small as possible. Because our design eliminates the diffraction effects compared to most other speaker designs, the sound wave phase information in the recording can be preserved and reproduced. The phase information makes an improved sound stage. Hence, this design produces a close to real life sound stage (depending on the sound recording quality too), the sound comes out from a space, instead of from the speaker itself, so-called ‘out of speaker box.’ The result of this quasi-point sound source is the better definition of the instrument positions, which makes the sound stage more real and lifelike. This feature was one of the main inventions in our patent.”

Set at the upper crossover point of 2.1kHz and 150Hz for the lower point, both of 2nd order slopes with 12dB attenuation per octave, the midrange is completely off-axis to the listening position, its dispersion in a upward firing pattern. Vital cues of the music are recreated by the tweeter from 2.1kHz and up, but the midrange is also handling a very audible portion of the spectrum albeit firing upward. The company describes the effects of the midrange as “exhibiting a deep sound field and vivid life-like music.”

The crossover network utilizes an inductor of oxygen-free pure copper enameled wire 1mm thick, and a resistor that is made of non-inductive cement. A Bennic capacitor is also used. Solder with 4% silver element is used in the welding of the components and the terminals.

In my system, driven into 4 ohms by the $29,000, 400 watt-per-channel Bricasti Design Classic Series M28 solid-state monoblock amplifiers, controlled directly by the company’s M1 dual-mono DAC, alternating with the $38,000 Pass Laboratories Xs Phono and $42,000 XA200.8 Class A monoblocks, and via Audio Reference Technology Analyst SE balanced interconnects, speaker cables and bi-wiring jumper cables, the tweeter and midrange pressurized the large listening room potently. Placed approximately eleven feet apart and five feet from the front wall, the Unisingers were thirteen feet from the listening position, and instrument recreation was lifelike in scale and very exacting in localization. They didn’t exhibit compression even at high volumes in the large space, which was an invitation to user indulgence, a most flattering aspect in any product category.

In recreating the “Voice of Spring,” a waltz piece with lyrics performed by soprano diva Kathleen Battle and the Vienna Philharmonic (conducted by the late Herbert von Karajan in 1987 on Deutsche Grammophon), the Unisinger differentiated the contrasting dynamics between the vocal soloist and the orchestra beautifully. The degree of differentiation was such as to anchor the diva’s voice distinctly against the backdrop of the massive ensemble, a feat all the more stunning from the Seas metal dome tweeter.

The Unisinger tweeter also pushed air like nothing its size I had experienced, its degree of tonal clarity and textural sophistication breathtaking. Though diminutive in size, the tweeter kept its composure within the volume of space its sound wave had to travel before reaching my ears, never losing integrity and sweetness.

At close range listening at moderate volume, the tweeter could be enjoyed facing the listener directly, for that is the optimal way of experiencing the magic. In my large room, I played the Unisinger loud; toeing them out from direct firing slightly averted me of bearing the brunt of the powerful tweeters at high volumes but without losing their magic. The tweeter tube resembles a reverse horn, pressurizing the backward firing wave exponentially from the back of the diaphragm and down, in an elegant execution of back wave elimination.

The downward firing woofer lost a considerable degree of definition and force when the speaker was on carpet. But when placed on the cement floor overlaid with wood tiles, the Unisinger shook the house while Tidal-streaming the Clint Mansell soundtrack Moon. It did not require an extra subwoofer. Its cylindrical, nuclear power plant-like structure of a cabinet helped delivered the cleanest and best-conforming bottom-end I’ve heard in memory.

The rendition of the church pipe organ in the LIM K2 HD CD, Cantate Domino, remastered from the original Proprius recording, the Unisinger as driven by the Bricasti Design system lured me into increasing the volume just to prove to me how indestructible it was. The Pass Labs system did induce the performance of the year from the Unisinger towers, pressurizing the listening space with its high-bias, Class A musicality and power, but the Bricasti Design monoblocks at 70% of the cost of its Pass Labs counterparts persuaded the Unisinger to give a different perspective, one less expansive but equally indulging.

Down firing a woofer has been implemented by companies before Unisinger, all iterations seemingly striving to impress via forceful displays, but the Unisinger was subtle and gradual when called for. The available degree of power delivery was epic, from the subtly under riding to the rambunctiously overpowering, and not in-the-chest as many similarly priced boxes would effectuate. Having experienced what may be the most articulate downward firing woofer by virtue of the cylinder body, I threw all kinds of recordings with bass material at it and the speakers kept obliging effortlessly. A standalone Unisinger subwoofer system would be a formidable entry into the marketplace.

And I’ve been neglecting the upward firing midrange all this time. The tweeter flew at my face while the midrange was tucked away at the top of the cylinder, but sonically they both were disappearing act champions. The midrange accorded atmospheric cues about the music that added realism to the sound of instruments. There’s something to be said for the experience of a midrange that traverses the critical range of 150 to 2,100Hz and radiates in an omni-directional 360 degree pattern, and not straight at you. Judging from a sea of spatial and tonal cues I heard, the arrangement seemed to be working just fine.

In actuality, the integration of the drivers was such that it was impressively conducive toward piano music listening. The Unisinger’s portrayal of the slowing aging Murray Perahia’s Chopin 24 Etudes was first-class in dynamic contrast and tonal integrity. The reproduction of harmonics was ethereal and surreal. This level of integration makes listening to solo classical piano fun, because their way of reproducing music was complete and completely spectacular.

It’s not unconventionally long in development history for a speaker to be created in nineteen months, and now in hindsight, seeing what Dr. Zhang and his team can do, I wish they had taken a bit longer to amaze us with something even more extraordinary.

All aspects of the Unisinger UIA – 2/Platinum extol quality. From the creatively penned handling and advertising messages on the outer shipping box, and the meticulously designed EPE shockproof inner packing, to the 100-lb matte paper 8-page instruction manual and its thoughtfully written contents, Unisinger impresses me as a well-organized team and the Platinum a world class, intelligently executed project, worthy of an enthusiastic recommendation. I look forward to further future adventures with Unisinger.

 

Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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4 Responses to Unisinger UIA – 2 Series Platinum loudspeakers Review


  1. jim says:

    Nice – it looks like a sophisticated Linkwitz Lxmini or Pluto with a built in subwoofer.

  2. Mark White says:

    Yep, my same thought too. However, it is 48X as expensive as the DIY LX Mini’s!

  3. Ronald says:

    I’m sure the late, great Siegfried Linkwitz (who co-invented probably the most important crossover network in audio history) would be happy that someone is finally seeing the error of boxy speaker thinking and is taking a few pages from his book of audio philosophy.

  4. TN Args says:

    One cannot help but be reminded of the Linkwitz Pluto, but with a couple of poor decisions made, especially the tweeter with a large faceplate.

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