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Reviewer: David Kan
Digital Source: Micromega Microdrive, NEC Multispin CDR-401G, Deltec Little Bit DAC, Deltec PDM Two DAC, Marantz SA6820, Philips DVP9000S
Analog source: Denon DP-59L turntable, Denon DL-302 MC phono cartridge, Ensemble PhonoMaster phono stage.
Preamp: Dared SL2000A, KingRex Preamp, NuForce P-9 [on loan]
Power Amp/integrated Amp: Dared MP-2A3C, Dared VP-16, Dared VP-20, Audio Zone AMP-ST, KingRex T20, Winsome Labs Mouse, NuForce Reference 9 and 9 SE, NuForce Reference 9 V2 [on loan]
Speakers: Loth-X BS-1, Klipsch Synergy F2, Mark & Daniel Maximus-Ruby, Maximus-Mini
Cables: Clearaudio Silver Line interconnect, Deltec Black Slink interconnect, Luscombe LBR-35 interconnect, Unity Audio Solid Link interconnect [on loan], OCOS speaker cables by Dynaudio, Unity Audio Solid Link single-wire/Shotgun bi-wire speaker cables [on loan], Orphee Audio digital cable, Aural Symphonic Digital Standard digital cable
Power Cords: Aural Symphonic Missing Link, Ensemble Powerflux, Unity Audio Link Precision Link [on loan]
Power Line Conditioning: Monster Power HTS-3500 Mk II (modified by Nu Force), Monster Power HTS-1000 Mk II
Room Size: 15' x 13.5' x 8 diagonal setup / 12' x 24' x 9' opens to 12' x 17' x 9' L-shape, short wall setup / 13' x 28' 8" x 9' with openings on one side to hallway and staircase, short wall setup
Review component retail: Solid Link interconnect C$99/1m pair, Solid Link Shotgun bi-wire speaker cable C$270/8 ft pair, Solid Link single-wire speaker cables C$120/8 ft pair, Basic Link power cables C$99/6 ft, Link power cable, C$225/6 ft, Precision power cable, C$299/6 ft.

The email account name of Omer Humayun, founder of Unity Audio, is ilovecables. Alas, he had no idea that I was never crazy about cables when he tried to share his labor of love with me. My feeling for cables can be summarized by my "if it feels good, do it" mindset. It's like sending your kids to private schools. Or buying organic food for your family. You spend the extra money and show you care. Is there any significantly tangible benefit? You never ask, you never need to know. Having said that, after sending my daughter to a so-called elite private school for three years, we took her out and put her back in a public school for two years before she went to university. She was much happier. The teachers were far better educators and more caring. As for organic food, we never see that as must-have. Well, maybe just a few of the more crucial items like milk and garden salad. But when they are not available, we're pleased to go for the non-organic spreads.

Back to cables. Yes, I spent the extra money on those and felt good a long time ago. Those were the days when I still received my monthly paycheck. Even then, I never bothered to upgrade. Were they any good? Was there anything better? I didn't care and still don't. Now that I no longer get a monthly paycheck, I am even more immune to the allure of haute couture designer cables. After fourteen years in Canada, I've splurged on only two pairs of Luscombe pure silver interconnects. From an audio dharma perspective, that's uttam sanyam. With that in mind, you could either say that I'm the perfect or wrong person for this job. Perfect or wrong, we have a lot of cables for audition.

1 pair of Solid Link interconnect, C$99/1m pair.
1 pair of Solid Link Shotgun bi-wire speaker cable, C$270/8ft pair.
2 pairs of Solid Link single-wire speaker cables for bi-amp, C$120/8ft pair.
2 pieces of Basic Link power cables, C$99/6ft.
1 piece of Link power cable, C$225/6ft.
1 piece of Precision power cable, C$299/6ft.

Unity Audio offers a comprehensive range of cables ranging from pure copper to copper/silver hybrid to pure silver conductors. I picked only pure copper models: because of price and because I've never tried solid-core copper. The Solid Link interconnect is a hand-assembled twisted pair of 18-gauge high purity solid core copper conductors in each direction. A layer of Mylar foil shield, not grounded nor connected to either end, is added for noise rejection. (Mylar foil is used in party balloons. To test its durability, try tearing one.) Insulation is Teflon and the outer sleeve is a mesh jacket. Since it's quite a thin, lightweight cable and the conductors are solid core copper, I find it stiff but easily manageable. Don't laugh. When lightweight, stiffness and manageability are combined in perfect balance, the cable can support its own weight, hold itself up in position and won't drag your puny Trends Audio TA-10 off its feet. All it requires of you is giving it a gentle massage to take on the desired shape. Termination is via Unity Audio's proprietary gold-plated RCA plugs welded with lead-free silver solder. These plugs have a very solid feel and firm grip. Plugging in or pulling out are a snap - and I mean it. You do feel the snapping fit. Far better than those clumsy locking devices that you're actually unlocking while you think you're locking and vice versa.

Since I had only one pair of Unity Solid Link interconnects, I was confined to a one source/one amp configuration. Source was Philips DVP-9000S and the amp Dared's MP-2A3C above. Speakers were Loth-X BS-1 below. Naturally, I also made use of the other Unity cables, i. e. Solid Link speaker cables and Precision power cables. But for audition purposes, let's focus on the interconnect for now. Rotating between Luscombe LBR-35 (C$335/1m pair) and Clearaudio Silverline (C$655/1m pair) and alternating orchestral bonbons with vocal and instrumental musical soirées, the Unity Solid Link was indeed one solid piece of interconnect. The Clearaudio embodied harmonic richness with a sheen of luster on every musical note. The Luscombe exemplified resolution and holographic dimension without sacrificing musicality. The Unity Solid Link managed to do all that to a lesser degree with a no-nonsense attitude. Okay, it did not possess the same lower extension potency of the Clearaudio nor the ultra high-frequency finesse of the Luscombe. Every sonic attribute that these bigger brothers scored a high B on, the Unity scored a decent passing grade of C. And all these Cs added up to one key result: musicality. In terms of degrees of involvement and warmth befitting a single-end triode amp, this interconnect didn't let me down at all. Don't forget, the Solid Link is a very humble model in the Unity portfolio.

Power cables
Of all cables, I'm least concerned about power cords. I've only used three power cords in my life: Ensemble Powerflux for my Ensemble Phonomaster, Symphonic Line Reference for my Symphonic Line RG4 monoblocks and Aural Symphonic The Missing Link for my Assemblage D2D-1/DAC-3.1 Platinum. To tell you the truth, I don't know how these machines have benefited from these power cords or how they will behave with other power cords. I have better things to do than chase for that 5% improvement (or difference!). How I got myself into a tangle with three grades of Unity Audio power cords was something I could hardly envisage or believe. For weeks I'd been looking for excuses to cop out at the last minute. I should be grateful that I didn't. At long last, I allowed myself the learning experience that I justly deserved but kept depriving myself of. For too long, I'd been complacent with whatever the factories supplied by way of generic cords for my growing infantry of amps. So I decided to take a lesson with the Dared MP-2A3C, comparing its generic power cord against the three Unity life lines.

The Dared MP-2A3C is my personal best for a 2A3 SET amp under $1,000, esthetically and sonically. It's the purest sounding SET with the lowest background noise, which makes it the perfect test bench for cables. The Basic Link is the entry model with 3 x 14-gauge stranded high-purity oxygen-free copper (HPOFC) conductors that are low in resistance and inductance and individually insulated. The triple-twist configuration is supposed to cancel intra-conductor interference and provide superior noise-rejection without the need for shielding. Standard terminations are Marinco 5266 male plug and Schurter 4781 IEC female connector. Next grade up, the Link utilizes 3 x 12-gauge HPOFC conductors also in triple twist geometry, and Furutech FI-11 golds on both ends. The Precision improves on the Link by adding an EMI/RFI noise-rejection shield made of aluminum Mylar and wrapped in a fire-retardant jacket. Terminations are the same Furutech FI-11 golds, deep cryo'd and demagnetized. Simple physics lesson have taught us that small-gauge conductors contribute to resistance in current flow. Audiophile wisdom has told us in turn how that will limit sonic integrity and overall transparency. Just on those grounds, using generic out-of-the-box power cables is a cardinal sin since most of them are 3 x 18AWG.

After rounds and rounds of pluggings and unpluggings, I came to the realization that there are some truths in both physics lessons and perceived audiophile wisdom. Yet I still have no intention to slight generic cords. If a piece of kit sounds terrible and needs expensive power cords to make it right, there's some problem with the machine to begin with. The Dared MP-2A3C sounds perfectly great with the 3/18AWG power cord and I have no complaints whatsoever. The Unity cables do make some difference even though I must stress that these subtleties only unfold before the ears in a closely monitored A/B comparison. With the Basic Link, forefront transience has more definition, resulting in livelier brass and punchier percussion. Vocal sibilance also becomes clearer in a positive sense. On the whole, soundscape palpability improves.

Moving up to the Link or Precision, more improvements are evident although the real difference between these two cables becomes harder to pin down. Both power cords have advantages over the Basic Link in terms of soundstage depth and breadth, with instrumental placement firmly established. No holdup or mix-up of spatialization and localization. Imaging is more three-dimensional. The textural and timbral presentation is more lifelike. Both power cords have excellent control of ambience, meaning there's no excessively airy or boomy decay. For my personal taste, this is very beneficial to tube amps because I find some tube bloom veering into overkill. The difference between the two? It seems to me the Precision is more full-bodied and the Link is better shaped like a body glove. Any gripes? Yes, these cables are so thick and heavy, so inflexible in tight surroundings that they actually pose some difficulties for the IEC connectors to stay firmly put. Obviously, Unity Audio is not alone and audiophiles who are more flexible than the cables have come to terms with this insignificant inconvenience.

Doing the same exercise all over again with my op-amp based Audio Zone AMP-ST, the improvement over the 3/18 generic cord was less pronounced yet still audible, especially with the more expensive Unity models. Soundstage improved slightly as did bass extension, which seemed to dive deeper with tighter control. Plugging the Precision into the Philips DVP-9000S, I couldn't hear any significant improvement even though this particular model is said to have been designed for CD players and transports. Did I say that I might be the wrong person for this job?

Don't despair. Let's try things with NuForce. I had the new Pre-9 and Reference 9 V2 on loan. Adding to my own Reference 9 SEs, those have proved to be the dream team for the Mark & Daniel Maximus-Monitor + Omni-Harmonizer stack above. The bad news was, I did not have enough Unity power cords. So I settled for Precision to Marantz SA8260, Link to Pre-9 and Basic Link to Reference 9 V2 driving the woofers which draw more current. The Reference 9 SE had to stick to the generic power cords supplied by NuForce, which happen to be one gauge larger than standard, 3 x 16, and are coupled with magnetic ferrite rings for controlling EMI/RFI and switching noise. I didn't like what I heard - with the Unity cables that is. The bass was deeper but somehow plagued by a muddy nasal overtone. The tonal spectrum was off and too bottom heavy. That affected clarity of both piano and orchestral works. The only kind of playback that was somehow less affected -- or unaffected -- were Bach's unaccompanied cello suites. I plugged back all generic power cords and presto, back I was to the NuForce + Mark & Daniel sound I know and love. My speculation is that NuForce's self-oscillating technology for their analog switching amps doing without conventional huge transformers doesn't need over-engineered power cords. That could mean big savings in disguise! Wife forbid, if ever I buy these loaner monos, that's one more convenient excuse. Hush, hush.

Speaker cables
Cold welded, not soldered. Does that make the cable termination more effective or not? To me that's as clueless as shake, not stir. One thing I do know though. With cold-welded, you can change the termination connector any time. The downside is, you have to make sure it's tightened. That's exactly the dilemma with Unity Audio's proprietary compression banana plugs. They are made of gold-plated copper with a banana shaft to BFA standard. Although they are aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, BFA is acronym for British Federation of Audiophiles rather than Bachelor of Fine Arts. It's said that these spiky plugs offer better contact than spades and regular bananas. And their sharply pointed tips look more like bayonets than bananas. The cold-weld connection requires no screw fastening or crimping. The naked tips of the conductors feed through the securing ring with its outer threads, then bend around to be tightened onto the mating banana shaft when you screw down the tip. Each solid core is individually Teflon-insulated and the outer sleeve is a mesh jacket. There were two models for my evaluation. The Solid Link utilizes 6 x 18-gauge 0.9999 pure copper solid conductors in a 4 +/2- configuration. I had two pairs to bi-amp. The Solid Link Shotgun for bi-wire applications uses 12 x 22-gauge 0.9999 pure copper solid conductors also in a 4 +/2- configuration. The asymmetrical design, according to Omer the designer, "sounds better to my ears." Skin effect? "I've never been one to obsess over the physics and technical aspects, I rely on my ears for the most part." Before anything, I noticed the skid effect - the larger gauge solid wires are more difficult to lock tightly with the cold-weld plugs. Make sure you give them a good manly twist after frequent pluggings and unpluggings.

One of my favorite reference systems in my diagonally set-up listening room below is the Dared SL-2000A mini preamp + Dared VP-20 bi-amp + Loth-X BS-1 in stacked D'Appolito array. That would be my initial test bench. I used two speaker cables in this scenario. Compared with Ultralink's Excelsior 6N speaker cables, the Unity Solid Link seemed to have an airier soundstage, somehow conveying more tube magic in terms of warmth and musicality. Compared with the OCOS speaker cables, the Solid Link maintained the same characteristics while the OCOS demonstrated decidedly more clean-cut dynamics and faster transients that yielded more clearly defined, higher rhythmic registration.

Taking down the Loth-X BS-1s and replacing them with my latest Mark & Daniel recruitment, the Maximus-Mini but still bi-amping with four Dared VP-20 mini monos, I was pleasantly surprised. The OCOS had everything in control, precisely, but the Unity Solid Link outperformed it by serving up more heart-pumping liberty. I noticed a certain elasticity in the lower midrange. Vocals and strings had fuller body that also embodied a remarkable resiliency. The tone was not just warm, it heated up. It bounced right out of the speakers and leaped at you, back and forth and around. Once again Bryn
Terfel's Tutto Mozart! [DGG 477 5886] and the Malena Ernman/Mats Bergström collaboration in My Love [BIS NL-CD-5020] offered the best sonic demonstration. I could feel that resiliency in both the orchestral and guitar strings. Terfel's expressive baritone voice and the bowing of the strings were full of zest and wit. Malena's dramatic voice and Mats' virtuoso fingerwork were vividly portrayed.

The Solid Link Shotgun biwire seemed to have the same effects on my Dared 2A3 + Klipsch Synergy F2 system. Compared again to OCOS, which was as neutral as one could get, the Shotgun, like the Solid Link single wire, seemed to be more robust and injected more vigor into the lower octaves. Such characteristics should be beneficial to most tube amps in general, I thought. However, when I applied the Solid Link to another tube setup, the Audio Space Pre-2 + Nova M-34 combo on the Mark & Daniel Maximus-Ruby, the lower midrange and bass became thick and blotted out. Pace was dragged down to sticky humidity. Once again, the one-size-fits-all formula many dream of always never happens in this half-science, half-fiction activity called audio.

As my audio adventure unfolded and cables untangled, this multi-tasking report came to an inconclusive conclusion that we all know too well already: the choice of cables largely depends on component synergy. Bearing in mind that the flagship Unity Audio cables cost about what most other manufacturers charge for their entry models, the audition's outcome was nevertheless encouraging. The Solid Link interconnect (C$99/1m) for instance replaced my reference interconnects that cost four times plus yet exhibited no audio life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The three copper-conductor power cables improved the most crucial sonic attributes of tube amps. The humbly priced Solid Link speaker cables (C$120/8 ft. pair) defied the laws of physics and audiophile wisdom with solid-core copper conductors and surprised me with excellent results on 6L6 tubes bi-amping the Mark & Daniel Maximus-Mini. As they say, you win some, you lose some. The Unity power cords couldn't beat the generic NuForce cables. The Solid Link speaker cables didn't beat the OCOS with NuForce either, nor did it fare well in the Audio Space + M&D Ruby scenario for reasons I cannot know. It all goes back to synergy. Fortunately for my wallet, I don't possess a single piece of equipment that synergizes with a $32,200/2.5m pair Siltech Emperor Crown speaker cable. I'm delighted with what Unity Audio cables can do with what I've got for so little.

Quality of packing: Standard carton box and bubble wrap packing providing adequate protection.
Reusability of packing: Easily a few times.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: A no-brainer.
Condition of component received: Perfect.
Completeness of delivery: Just cables, what else?
Quality of owner's manual: n/a
Website comments: Under construction.
Warranty: 10 year parts and labor.
Global distribution: US/Canada distributors
Human interactions: Professional and friendly, though not often timely.
Pricing: Excellent value for money.
Application conditions: n/a
Final comments & suggestions: n/a
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