The original Unison Research Simply Two was certainly one of the world`s most successful integrated valve amplifiers, a product widely acclaimed both by audiophiles and the specialist press. When Unison Research decided to introduce a new, small integrated valve amplifier to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy, we used the Simply Two as our inspiration—and named it the Simply Italy.
The Simply Italy shares many of the design features of the Simply Two. Both are single-ended ultralinear Class A designs that produce 12 watts per channel. Both use EL34 valves in the output stage and ECC82 valves in the preamp and driver stages to achieve our trademark wide imaging, clarity and musical precision.
But the Simply Italy offers a wide range of new features that were designed and developed in our own facilities. First, we have adjusted the output impedance from 8 ohms to 6 ohms to make the Simply Italy compatible with a greater range of loudspeakers—specifically those of the 4 ohm and 8 ohm variety. Since a true dual-mono configuration would be impractical in such a compact amplifier, we designed a power supply which might be called “Quasi-Dual-Mono.” In this configuration, the power transformer and first filter stage the power supply are doubled, separating all preamp stages to the benefit of low crosstalk and low distortion.
Since the very beginning Unison Research has dedicated itself to the design, development and manufacture of output transformers, conscious of the vital importance of these complex elements in the pursuit of best sound quality. Very few manufacturers in the world can boast of being able to produce high-quality transformers in-house. Thanks in large measure to these particular transformers it has been possible to create an output stage for Simply Italy consisting of one EL34 in a single-ended ultralinear configuration. This mode of operation for the output transformers allows the pentode EL34s to operate almost as if they were triodes.
We have also added a unique feature that allows the user, through a simply toggle switch on the top of the chassis, to adjust the amount of negative feedback in the circuit. This allows the owner of the Simply Italy to tailor the sound for specific types of music, or even specific tastes of the listener.
The appearance of the Simply Italy has also undergone radical changes. The wood accents are now confined to the front panel for a more streamlined look. Contrasting circular inserts, also made of wood, provide a distinctive and attractive look for the controls. Two satin stainless-steel bands beneath the valves add a touch of refinement, and also assist the thermic isolation of the electronic circuit and output transformers. This provides a clear benefit to both sound quality and the overall reliability of the amplifier.
The Simply Italy is supplied with an infra-red remote handset which allows the user to interface with the microchip control circuit; this manages control of analog volume via an RK27 series ALPS motorized potentiometer. Four large gold-plated terminal connectors allow any type of loudspeaker cable to be used. Every design aspect of the Simply Italy has been carefully considered: the control knobs for example, are turned from non-magnetic stainless-steel with a sufficient diameter and weight to provide a smooth flywheel effect with excellent feel and rotational precision. The wooden parts are important for the aesthetic design but also play an important role in damping chassis resonances.
Finally, we have been faithful to the Unison Research tradition by making the Simply Italy an integrated amplifier. We feel that the advantages of integrated amplifiers are numerous: the entire playback system has been simplified, cables have been eliminated, and considerable cost reductions can be achieved. At the same time, the design of an integrated amplifier is considerably more complex and critical that that of a separate pre or power amplifier. A great design should avoid interference between the power supply, control, preamplifier and power output stages. Our extensive experience with integrated amplifiers has led us to a design approach that addresses all these challenges with elegant, solid engineering.
When it comes to designing high-quality integrated amplifiers—from the legendary Absolute 845 to the new Simply Italy—Unison Research is well-known for creating pieces that ultimately become classics that are highly valued among music lovers. The Simply Italy will undoubtedly become such a classic.