This paper introduces a unified framework for the detection of a source with a sensor array in the context where the noise variance and the channel between the source and the sensors are unknown at the receiver. The Generalized Maximum Likelihood Test is studied and yields the analysis of the ratio between the maximum eigenvalue of the sampled covariance matrix and its normalized trace. Using recent results of random matrix theory, a practical way to evaluate the threshold and the $p$-value of the test is provided in the asymptotic regime where the number $K$ of sensors and the number $N$ of observations per sensor are large but have the same order of magnitude. The theoretical performance of the test is then analyzed in terms of Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve. It is in particular proved that both Type I and Type II error probabilities converge to zero exponentially as the dimensions increase at the same rate, and closed-form expressions are provided for the error exponents. These theoretical results rely on a precise description of the large deviations of the largest eigenvalue of spiked random matrix models, and establish that the presented test asymptotically outperforms the popular test based on the condition number of the sampled covariance matrix.