Unity Audio Signature 3 Review System

Sidebar 1: Review System

The CD player used for my debut Stereophile review was a Kinergetics KCD-20B that I've modified somewhat. Recently, I've been using the best preamp in the world: no preamp at all. What? I don't listen to vinyl? I must not be a real audiophile. The power amplifiers currently in my system are Nelson Pass–designed 15W single-ended "Zen" monoblocks (footnote 1). They have just one large MOSFET in the signal path, and I have to tell you they sound wonderful because I built them.

Other power amps ready for active duty were an NAD 2100X, a Michael Yee Audio PA-1, and Muse One Hundred Fifty monoblocks. Power-line filtering was compliments of a MagneTek isolation transformer sandwiched between a couple of stages of 0.1µF polypropylene shunt capacitors. (Your mother told you not to play with electricity, so don't go building your own power-line filter and electrocuting yourself.) My Zen monos don't need anything extra because I've built overkill filtering into their power supplies. My long-term reference pair of speakers, the B&W Matrix 804s (also slightly modified), were on hand for comparison purposes.

Interconnects were 1m long, homemade, unshielded, lead-free soldered, Teflon-sheathed, all twisted and goofy-lookin', whatever. Speaker cables were mostly AudioTruth Argent, but I also tried TARA Labs RSC Master Gen.2, Dunlavy DAL-Z8, and 2' lengths of Straight Wire Maestro. Hooray for short speaker cables.

My listening room is 14.5' by 13' by 8'. I placed the speakers in front of the long wall, with a 2' H by 5' W piece of "egg-carton" foam hung on the wall behind them at tweeter'n'woofer height. On the right wall was a larger piece of foam at ear height, and a handsome tapestry. On the left and back walls I have hung some not-so-handsome blankets, but they help out with the imaging and treble balance. My homemade comfy chair sits in the middle of the room, placing my ears about 7' from each speaker and about 34" from the floor. When I stylishly rotate my body counterclockwise in my chair (clockwise for watching gophers), the wooden floor's tuning-focus snappage maximized, so that all the blooming palpitude and harmonic convergence of the rehabilitated deviant electrons gave me radiation bumps.—Muse Kastanovich

Footnote 1: See The Audio Amateur 2/94, p.10, and 3/94, p.20.

gabis8's picture

This is a blatant example of a complacent examination of an audio component. I deplore the fact that his author, Muse Kastanovich, couldn't demonstrate any form of critical thinking. To be specific, Mr. Kastanovich found a spot of glue on the surround of one speaker, and his main reaction is to underline the fact that audio reviewers seems not to be favoured with better samples to review than the regular people. What? An honest and independant reviewer would have spotted the evident lack of quality control that this incident imply. End of the story. An execution problem is a problem, no matter how it can reveal anything on a manufacturer's ethic. There's no way to be happy about a lack of "fit'n finish" (even less if this nonchalance is so macroscopic that it could possibly compromise the sound) apart from being an hopeless optimist, which is not a reviewer's top quality.

Stereophile have become a master in taking shortcomings and turning them into advantages. I'm profoundly disappointed of this state of affairs.

billyjul's picture

this is not the first time that stereophile make a complacent examination of an audio component
the measure of this speaker, reveal the poor quality of audio drivers used with poor engineering speaker
i think the company will do better in selling french fries instead of this awful measuring speaker