Unity are known for their uncompromising approach to studio monitoring, and their latest design doesn't disappoint!
I wonder if, when Unity Audio launched the original Rock active nearfield monitor around a decade ago, they realised that a whole series of geologically themed product names would ultimately be required. Having found themselves in the position of calling their newest product, and the subject of this review, the Mini Boulder, I suspect the answer might be no. Surely boulders, by definition, aren't mini? Anyhow, be that as it may, here it is, rolling into view: the Mini Boulder.
Unity Audio have, over that last decade, built themselves a distinct monitor brand and engineering identity, based on closed-box active monitors constructed in robust, birch ply enclosures, loaded with interesting and often technologically advanced drivers. The Unity Audio approach to internal amplification is also typically characterised by generous power ratings and a muscular, no-nonsense vibe. I don't think there's ever been a Unity Audio monitor launched where I've wondered about the adequacy of power, and the Mini Boulder is no different in that respect. I'll expound more on the amplification a few paragraphs in.
The Mini Boulder's substantial weight and size don't for one moment diminish that robust Unity Audio brand. The monitors weigh in at a not insignificant 22kg each, and to my mind their 40.6 x 26.8 x 35.4 (HWD) dimensions definitely approach midfield rather than nearfield proportions. I breathed in deep when lifting them onto the wall brackets either side of my DAW display, and not just because I have weedy arms. I've had heavier monitors secure on those wall brackets before, but not all that much heavier. Those working in really small spaces and/or with anything other than really beefy stand or bracket arrangements probably ought to look elsewhere for monitoring.
The Mini Boulder's weight arises in part from its Class-A/B amplification, with the necessarily bulky transformer and heatsink, and the significant mass of its bass driver magnet. The cabinet construction contributes too, and this comprises an 18mm-thick birch ply carcass mated to a 30mm-thick moulded Corian front panel. Corian is a manufacturing material developed by DuPont in the late 1960s primarily for 'homeware' applications such as kitchen work surfaces and bathroom basins. It's an amalgam of around 33 percent acrylic resin (polymethyl methacrylate) with 66 percent mineral powder, and can be moulded into complex shapes with thick sections.
Corian's great advantages for use in speaker cabinets are its naturally fine surface finish (depending on the quality of the mould, of course), great strength and rigidity, and the relatively simple and inexpensive tooling and moulding techniques required to create non-rectilinear components. The Mini Boulder takes advantage of that, with its radiused front edges and angled bevel either side of its compound midrange/HF driver. Both features will contribute towards reducing the mid- and high-frequency diffraction and re-radiation that sharp edges and entirely flat panels encourage. The downsides of Corian are that, as discussed, it's not exactly light, it's not inexpensive, and it's not particularly suited to high production throughput. None of these downsides are particularly an issue for a high-end nearfield monitor.
The Corian front panel is finished in a subtle black sparkle and the carcass in a semi-matte black. I was intrigued by the small gloss-black crescent areas around the mid/tweeter driver on the Mini Boulder front panel, until...