A prime example of music that falls within Unum’s sonic wheelhouse was the duet between guitarist Pat Metheny and bassist Charlie Haden on “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.” Within an expansive and reverberant soundstage were loads of low-level detail, micro-dynamic energy, and timbral color. Obviously the subtraction of the Duo’s 6" woofer impacted bass response, but the harmonics of Haden’s standup bass still managed to fan out and provide more than acceptable pitch accuracy and control.
Deep, head-banging bass from a foot-tall cabinet was obviously not Unum’s strong suit, but there was enough suggestion of room-pressurizing output in the 50–80Hz range to maintain the balance and character of a good jazz or symphonic performance and put an enthusiast’s critical ear at ease. Take Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five,” for example. In addition to the colorful, bouncy mids of the famed piano vamp, the standup bass and drums attained a pleasing spatiality with pitch accuracy, hints of warmth, and surprising decay.
Vocals however were a strong suit—lively and well detailed, particularly with female singers. Ana Caram’s gentle vocal during “Fly Me To The Moon” [Blue Bossa] created a fair amount of warm air; her soft, rhythmic Bossa Nova guitar accompaniment was as placid as a tropical breeze. Male singers, like Johnny Cash singing Trent Reznor’s “Hurt,” missed some of their lower-midrange chestiness, but the Unum picked up on Cash’s vocal understatement and the catch of emotion in his throat—keys to a performance that is both electric and haunting
Speed and transient attack were very good; the cabinet seemed virtually resonance-free. The Unum possessed a tactile spontaneity that drew my ear to the plectrum of Joni Mitchell’s dulcimer or the rosin on cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s bow, or the tick of a classical guitarist’s fingernails playing upon the strings. That resolution paired with a general lack of port overhang or spurious resonances seemed to propel a recording’s energy into the room as if materializing from a time machine.
Unum’s soundstage, replication of scale, and dimensionality were solid considering its humble size. Images were cleanly spaced and stable. Orchestral section-layering was indicated, but ultimately stage depth was limited. To my ears, Unum had a more focused signature, emphasizing a musician’s direct sound rather than extended ambient decay, a trait that registered with me as I listened to The San Francisco Opera’s live performance of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. The ability to send ambient information fanning across a stage to the furthest edges of the soundfield was not often fully realized—nor were the tactile and textural backing that supports and reinforces individual musical images and allows those images to fully inhabit the soundspace.
In terms of unbridled output and dynamics, Unum’s physical size is a factor, so mind those 100dB P’s and Q’s. While it can’t fully break the bonds of its own compact genetics, I’m not suggesting Unum needs to be coddled, either. Never shrinking from a challenge, cue up the heavy dance groove of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” [Thriller], and you’ll likely be as surprised as I was by the amount of whomp, rhythm, focus, and drive coming from such a small speaker. Or, an even more extreme case, try listening to the gale-force depth and impact of the Kodo Drums during “Air” from the soundtrack to The Thin Red Line. Of course there’s some compression, and certainly there are limitations to how much kettle- or bass-drum air a compact can launch into the soundspace of a room, but the Unum surprised me time and again at its effectiveness in capturing the broad range of sonic color of this powerful material.
The field of two-way compacts is an intensely crowded and competitive one. To that end, the Sonner Audio Legato Unum was an engaging, civilized, and musically compelling experience—a well-honed package that makes a great case for elegance and poise in smaller room applications. Like its larger sibling, the Legato Duo, it’s the kind of speaker that just makes you want to cue up your favorite music, kick up your heels, and spend a lot more time listening. As it was with Legato Duo, making the acquaintance with Legato Unum was an absolute pleasure.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Two-way, ported-enclosure stand-mount
Drivers: 1" ring-radiator tweeter; 5.5" coated-paper cone mid/woofer
Frequency response: 43Hz–23kHz
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum, 5 ohms)
Dimensions: 8.27" x 12.6" x 17.75"
Net Weight: 20 lbs.
Price: $4750/pr. (optional matching stand: $1120 per pair)
68 Daniel Webster Highway
Merrimack, NH 03054
(603) 881 3978