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Simon Mears Audio Ucello 3-Way Horn Loudspeaker Review

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Mears executes the wiring between the speaker cable binding posts and the crossovers and drivers in Audio Note silver and copper cable.

The crossovers enable the Ucellos to present a constant eight Ohm impedance, and an efficiency of 104 dB, thus making them a remarkably benign load even for flea-powered SET amplification. I connected the review Ucellos to a pair of Audio Note (UK) Kegon monoblocks, 18 Watts per channel parallel single ended 300Bs. My sources were an Origin Live Resolution III turntable with OL Conqueror 3c arm, Audio Note IO II cartridge and S8 SUT, and AN UK CDT Three transport and DAC 4.1 Balanced, switched through an AN UK M8 Phono preamplifier. All mains cables and interconnects in my system are by an English designer and manufacturer who employs different thicknesses and widths of silver and palladium-plated silver ribbon conductors in a primarily air dielectric.

Each more than twice the width of my reference Audio Note AN E-SEC/Spz speakers, the Ucellos were a challenge to fit into the width of the listening room. Due to the length of my system table – it is low and wide rather than narrow and high – we ended up with the Ucellos placed in front, their backs around one metre forward of the front wall, with their sides 50 cm from the bookcase lined sidewalls and around 1.8 metres apart.

This was evidently not an optimum position, but was the best that could be achieved given the dimensions of the room. Mears was less troubled than I was. “Ideally we’d put them nearer the front wall, and probably get a slightly better quality of bass, but they’ll be fine here.”

It was reassuring then, on playing the first track through the Ucellos, that the designer and builder was right – they did indeed sound fine. Although I’d previously heard horns in other people’s systems, on each occasion they had been teamed with amplification – no names, no pack drill – that I find flat, un-dynamic and, well, simply un-musical. The experience had not been one of being flayed alive by shrill squawking, but neither had it been remotely entertaining either; just rather ho-hum and disappointing. According to Mears this is quite unlike horns should and can sound.

Readers who have heard good hornery will know pretty much exactly what I am about to say now, and those who haven’t will be like I was moments before the stylus plopped into the groove for the first track. “OK. Get it over with. I can’t believe this is going to be revelatory.”


A pal of Mears who had helped with the delivery and set-up of the review pair said afterwards: “Kev, I was watching you and you literally jumped with surprise.”

It’s true. I did.

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