Luxury items are considered an indulgence rather than a necessity. Things like handmade Italian leather beach sandals, Swarovski bedazzled iPad cases, or a carbon fiber toilet seat. Sure, these things would undoubtedly enrich our lives, but we can probably get by without them. (If you can call sitting on a plastic toilet seat living.)
The Unity Home System Kit includes everything an integrator would need for a three-room installation with single-source multi-room audio.
Distributed audio systems used to be luxury items, but changed all of that, putting housewide audio within nearly everyone’s reach. Installers might not be familiar with Legrand, but they’ll know two of their brands: OnQ and Vantage. Legrand has leveraged its background in structured wiring solutions to produce the Unity Home System with the goal of bringing distributed audio and intercom to the masses.
The Unity system includes multiple products; in fact, my review system arrived as a Russian doll collection of boxes within boxes. Legrand shipped me the HA6401-BS three room starter kit ($3,250), the TVDI TV display interface ($210) and an IC5004 patio unit ($169). The HA6401 kit includes the system Integration Module (IM), two selective call intercom (SCI) room units, a seven-inch Studio LCD control, a video camera door station, two lyriQ amplified keypads, a single-source audio kit with source input wallplate, plus two system remote controls and all the necessary power supplies.
The starter kit can be expanded to support up to six cameras (four cameras and two video doors), 32 intercom locations, 16 discrete audio zones, five sources (four analog and one streaming audio).
Like nearly everything these days, the entire system wires with low-cost Cat-5 cabling, and the audio controller is a single-gang device and the intercom controllers–including speaker–fit into a double-gang enclosure, or can be grouped together in a triplegang box. The single-source input plate can be located anywhere, say near an iPod or a stereo, and is fed by standard RCA cabling. It features level-gain adjustment as well as an IR input and three emitter outputs allowing remote source control. The TV display interface has composite A/V outs and an IR input for controlling the on-screen GUI.
The LCD Console is available in four different plate colors including Gloss Black, Light Almond, Titanium, and White.
Once everything was wired and the system powered up, the keypads and intercom stations were all auto-discovered and ready for labeling. Shared music is added over the network by pressing a “catalog” button. Programming time is literally zero, meaning that you’ll be in-and-out in no time.
The intercom provides all of the features you’d expect, such as call to all, call to individual room, hands-free response, and room monitoring. The video door automatically flips the LCD and TV display to the camera image, which is cool. (The video door is also loaded with a variety of typical and fun chimes like the Jetson’s theme, Jingle Bells, a wolf howl, etc.) The intercom’s single- gang speaker tends to crackle as if its micro-driver is about to shred apart with loud pages, but audio quality is certainly sufficient for shouts of “Come to dinner!��� or “What are you doing?”
Another cool trick is the ability to leave messages for family members. On the LCD screen or any of the SCI stations you can record a message and send it to one or all SCI stations.
Audio quality is on par with A-BUS amplified systems, with both the LCD and smaller pads putting out seven watts per channel. Though this is generally enough output for most rooms, a more powerful (20-watt) version of the pad is available along with line-level connections for connecting to an external amplifier.
I felt that the sound had a heavy mid-presence, akin to an inverted V-curve on an EQ. The system can decode one stream of MP3, WMA, or AAC (non- DRM) music, and the LCD and TV displays are crucial for navigating your library, because the singlegang pads display no metadata.
One feature I loved was the ability to search through my library using an A-Z list, which is something that is missing on many systems costing far more. My biggest gripe, however, is that you cannot adjust the music volume level within the “Player” screen; you have to exit out to the “Music” screen for any volume control.
The LCD screen’s resolution is 480 x 234, which looks chunky next to all the fancy, high-res screens we encounter almost everywhere, but is suitable for browsing the GUI and recognizing anyone on the camera.
At over three grand, the Unity system is still not “cheap,” so why would someone consider it? As a music-only system, I would say you wouldn’t, because there are better solutions out there that offer more for less money. However, as a whole-home solution with intercom and doorbell and camera monitoring, Unity is bringing many luxury features downstream to mass-market pricing. And when you factor in the programming costs ($0), the price will be even more attractive to those shopping on a budget.
As a whole-home solution with intercom and doorbell and camera monitoring, Unity is bringing many luxury features downstream to mass-market pricing.
You cannot adjust the music volume level within the “Player” screen.
Includes seven-inch LCD interface
All components feature titanium edging and a screwless finish
System is available in 17 colors
Standard system can be expanded to accommodate a system of up to 32 rooms of intercom, eight zones of audio, four cameras, two LCD Consoles, and up to 16 TV Display Interfaces