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Unison Research Unico CDE Twin review

This Venetian charmer isn't cheap, but it's superbly built and delivers on romance, atmosphere and musicality

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Our Verdict

This player has charm in spades, if you can live without clear cut edges


  • Engaging, musical sound
  • Strong tonal realism


  • Not as exciting or precise as some
  • Relatively low on features

Italians seem to love valve equipment. As a nation they produce a broad array of stylish glass-powered electronics; it must be something to do with the romance that valves bring out in music! Unison Research makes a number of amplifiers and three CD players, of which the Unico CDE Twin is the top dog.

In fact, it's slightly higher than that because it's the upgraded DAC-OP2 version of the Unico CDE. This is an optional upgrade to the standard CDE that costs £150 if you fit it yourself, but adds £175 to the price of the normal player.

It replaces a single Crystal DAC with a pair of Wolfson convertors, albeit leaving the Crystal in place (which allows you to switch between the two via the front panel), a unique if not entirely essential feature.

The CDE runs a TEAC transport through a Crystal digital interface to the Wolfson 24-bit/192kHz DACs, which run in dual-differential mode.

Unison research unico cde twin rear view

The glass can be found in the output stage, which has four ECC83 double triodes in a parallel cathode-follower arrangement. There is little chance, therefore, of running this thing in standby with less than a Watt.

On/off switching is placed on the right hand side of the case which seems perverse but keeps the bead-blasted facia minimal and with only four buttons, it's hardly busy. What gives it a bit of sparkle is the large backlit LCD display, which can be switched off if required.