A must-listen proposition for anyone who revels in a vocal performance, but fractionally off the pace overall
Hefty build, nice remote
expansive and communicative sound quality
Some low-end ponderousness
‘Seconda': so much more evocative than ‘2' or ‘II', isn't it? And as Unison Research is Italian, such naming for its Unico integrated amp update isn't even pretentious.
The first thing you notice about the Seconda is that it's got taller: it's like an amp with a loft conversion. Also increased is the power – 120 watts per channel now lurks underneath that chunky casework.
In every other respect, it's as you were. There's a high-quality moving magnet or moving coil phono stage, and an eye-catching metal/wood remote, but no room for unnecessary fripperies such as a headphone socket or tone controls.
Let it get up to speed Once turned on (and after about 20 seconds to get the valves up to temperature), the Seconda offers a typically Unison sound. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Arm and Hammer is delivered in rich, full gobbets, the low frequencies slightly languorous but freighted with solid impact. It attacks manfully and deals with dynamic shifts with ease, while creating a credible soundstage.
Also in true Unison style, this amp's midrange is the real star – vocals, in particular, are beautifully detailed and utterly believable.
More after the break
The Seconda's shortcomings are also familial: a slight lack of drive at the low end; not the cleanest entry into or exit from bass notes; and an inability to snap through hard-charging tunes like its best rivals.
So, it's not a true all-rounder, but its superb way with singers makes the Seconda worth a second look.