Tellurium Q Blue II
It has been a while since I had a brush with Tellurium Q products, however, I regularly receive questions from audiophiles who ask which of their cables will be the most suitable with this or another system. I even get the impression that some music lovers try to solve this puzzle in the worst possible way - not based on the listening but rather the reviews, users' comments, and comparing weird figures found online. Yet, they are still convinced that they should buy Tellurium Q cables. They just wonder whether they should choose Blue, Black, Black Diamond, or Ultra Silver series, even though there are lots of other very interesting cables on the market. Why these, then?
Being a suspicious individual, I carried out a little investigation. Wherever you sniff around and whomever you ask, it turns out that everything about Tellurium Q is just fine. The clients are satisfied because the cables are nice, decently put together and during the listening session, they work just as expected. The reviewers always assess these cables positively. The review and industry awards tab on the manufacturer's website is pretty much self-explanatory. These cables are praised even by the dealers. The prices of the lower series models are very inviting and those of the higher ones - simply competitive. When it comes to the sound, the cables made by this company are not "wound" in just one direction, so they fit in many different systems. In the complicated cable world, Tellurium Q is treated as a sure bet. Will it be the same with the new Blue II series?
Design and functionality
Tellurium Q declares that its work is grounded on the research on the actual process of electric signal flow. However, it is hard to verify that information, since there are no measurements, technical data, or even descriptions of the research methods and results. Brits don't share their discoveries with anybody, so we hardly know anything about the internal structure of the cables. What we can find on their website is lots of different stories about how the cables were delivered to the dealers for the first time, how enthusiastically they reacted, how quickly the first orders were placed and how many clients wrote very kind words about their listening experience. Though, if we wanted to know whether the cables are made of copper, silver, or some exotic material, we would have to rip them into pieces. The only specific data concern available lengths and prices. The audiophiles would rather read about the purity of the copper, cables' geometry, high-performance dielectrics, and other technical details of this sort, but Tellurium Q assumes that giving all the data and publishing cross-section photos of the cables would lead to copying them. For this reason, the only thing that users know is that the priority for Tellurium Q's engineers is fighting phase distortion, which is something other producers tell us either rarely or never. The company's founder, Geoff Merrigan, is very straight-forward about this - if you do not believe that our cables can make a difference, do not listen to them, but if you have listened to them and you do not hear the difference, don't buy them. Despite that, many clients have apparently listened to the cables and assessed them positively, and, owing to that, the company was awarded the Queen's Awards for Enterprise.
Even though it is not my first encounter with the cables made by this company, I have to admit that this approach, especially in the world of audiophile cables, irritates me intensely. Tellurium Q can receive even fifty or two hundred awards, but the utter lack of any information regarding the internal structure of the cables will still be the fuel for the conspiracy theories. It is probable that all the effort is pointless and being on the square with the clients would not influence the competition's actions. I highly doubt that, in this day and age, any cables manufacturer can come up with something that has never been done before. There is no likelihood for that, given the number of specialists working in large factories and amateurs building cables on the kitchen table. Besides, what have we not seen in the world of audiophile cabling... Cables made of carbon, wires with vacuum insulation, thick cables with batteries attached to them and, most recently, the power cords with insulation made of Star Dust (Enerr Transcenda Ultimate) and a whole series of cables with the screen connected to the ground by separate wires (Atlas Mavros Ultra). At the same time, Tellurium Q claims that there is no point sharing even some basic information about conductors, dielectrics, or plugs with the world, because, well…What difference would it make?
The box we received from Tellurium Q's distributor contained the Blue II speaker cables, jumpers, balanced and unbalanced interconnects, and a USB cable. The latter stands out from other wires with regards to both the appearance and the form of the protective braided sleeve. Other models have plain light blue (analog interconnects), navy blue (digital interconnects) or purple (speakers and jumpers) outer insulation, whereas the USB cable is black with some kind of additional vein underneath, entwisted spirally around the main cord. The blue insulation shows through the black mesh and the plugs are secured by red heat-shrinkable tubes with Tellurium Q's logo. The packaging looks quite standard - usual boxboards with stickers with the name and description of the cable inside, handwritten length of the cable, and the initials of the person responsible for quality control. Speaking of which, since it is the basic series of the Tellurium Q wires, I expected some defects or at least signs of frugality, which gradually become normal in the cheapest cables on the market. But no. The cables are really legit. They are quite thick, elegant, but, most importantly, they are very well manufactured. They seem, um... Tight. As if nothing could come loose or fall off, no matter whether we talk about speaker cables or interconnects. Due to the rigidity, I would not recommend them to people looking for cables for their tightly built installations, but the speaker cable is a stunner in this respect. The wire in the form of ribbon similar to purple tagliatelle can be bent and placed behind the rack almost without limits. The jumpers were terminated with BFA type banana plugs on one side and spades on the other. It will allow the owners of the speakers with double sockets to replace the factory-made jumpers in such a way that cables with any endings can be connected to any pair of terminals. It seems that someone used their brain here.
Apparently, the clients really loved the cables from the original Blue series. It turns out, again, that they are not bothered by the Tellurium Q's policy to keep everything in secret. It's not a problem if everything from the client's point of view is in place, especially the product and sound quality. It's easy to imagine that the Blue series cables would not find so many buyers if their prices were not so affordable. The Blue II speaker cable is £16.50/m, whereas we will pay only £6 for a factory-made confection on a single cable (one channel). The total cost of a 2.5m long standard pair will then be approximately £92.50. As for the audiophile cables, it is a ridiculously low price. One meter long RCA interconnect costs £180, whereas the XLR ending version is worth around £235. In both cases, you have to pay an extra £32 for every additional 0.5m. Four 30cm long speaker jumpers cost £60. Again, it's an absurdly low price. Especially when taking into account that the confectioning of these wires is done in the same way as in the case of longer speaker cables. Most manufacturers of the audiophile cables simply wouldn't do it for such money, even if they got ready-made wires, plugs, and heat-shrinkable tubes with the company's logo for free. The Blue II USB cable is priced at £186, yet we are talking about a standard 1m long piece. In the majority of systems, such length will not be sufficient. Luckily, each additional 0.5m will cost us... £18. Seriously, it's not a mistake. The same goes with most Tellurium Q digital cables. Lengthening the wire by every 0.5m will cost, on average, 10% of its price. I don't even know what to think about it, so I'll let my ears do the rest.
If you think that, at least when it comes to the sound, the British cables hold onto one scheme, you are wrong. Tellurium Q is one of the manufacturers who, most probably quite knowingly, offer cables which can be fitted into any system. It's not even because of their general neutrality, but because of the fact that, in their catalogue, we can find both the cables sounding warmly and pleasantly as well as more neutral ones rather heading towards neutrality or uncompromising definition and dynamics. You may, of course, laugh that Geoff Merrigan's actions lack consistency, but the sales results speak for themselves. Tellurium Q can attract more clients than Cardas or Nordost, which clearly favour one side since it provides audiophiles also with the choice when it comes to the sonic sphere (sometimes two or three cables can cost the same but sound different). All you need to do is to clearly communicate what you can expect soundwise by selecting the cables from a certain series - explain the differences between particular cables. And it works, because clients are less and less interested in the technical issues. They tend to care about the final effect - what type and quality of sound will they get. If the cables sound exactly as they dreamed, the conductors, screening, geometry, or the material used in the production of the plugs simply don't matter at all. If you ask Geoff Merrigan about anything even remotely technical, he will probably start talking about the Bell labs work carried out back in 1930. But if you specify what sound you want to get, he will immediately tell you which of Tellurium Q's cables will sound like that.
I don't think it is a coincidence. The cheaper models offer relatively warm, pleasant, and melodic sound. The more expensive ones go towards neutrality and clarity by revealing more and more details to the listener and showing the complexity of the music, whereas the most expensive ones add, to all of it, transparency, and soundstage of the highest quality in order to go as far as possible from the concept of the cable as a filter, hence to give us a natural, clear, agile and colouration-free sound. Is it correct? I do not know, since I have not tested all the Tellurium Q cables, but when it comes to the Blue II models, my observations overlap with the manufacturer's description. Tellurium Q says all models from this family are characterized by a warmed, smooth, and melodic sound and that these cables are understanding of different stereo systems, even the budget ones. What can I add? It is true. The first one to be tested was a standard set of speaker cables and RCA interconnect. After switching from Equilibrium Tune 33 Light and Albedo Geo interconnect, which I reckon highly neutral, the sound slightly calmed down. Blue IIs appeared to be the kind of cables that push the sound towards pleasant warmth with a slightly privileged but smooth midrange. Interestingly, it did not involve restricting the soundstage. Many cables of such sound character provide us with a soundstage resembling a cramped, smoky jazz club, whereas Tellurium Q Blue II proved they can handle classical music, live albums, and soundtracks that need a bit of cinematic panache. Here, everything worked out. Neither did the musicians bump their elbows against one another nor treaded on each other's toes. Yet still, the sound smacked of something I know from cheaper Cardas, Van den Hul, and Fadel cables - pastel colours, thickened consistency, close midrange, slightly smoothed high frequencies, and the feeling of complete relaxation. The abovementioned observations were proved during the listening session of the balanced interconnect.
Blue IIs are one of the cables which give the listener the feeling of greater coherence and fullness of the sound. They encourage you to sink in your armchair or sofa for longer. One may say that the music slows down a little thanks to them. As if, all of the sudden, not spotting every detail did really matter here, but enjoying the music content, timbre, richness, and length of the sound. Naturally, it will not work in every system. If I had, let's say, a tube amplifier connected with the warm and slightly subdued sounding speakers, it would not be my first choice. As was the case with my desktop system with Marantz HD-DAC1 digital-to-analog converter, Unison Research Triode 25 integrated amplifier, and Equilibrium Nano monitors. Well, it is not 100 percent the same as the situation described above, since Triode 25 is not a stereotypical tube amplifier and the miniature Equilibrium speakers can show their teeth and apply dynamics and bass no one would expect of them. But if I were to choose some Tellurium Q cables for this set, I would go for something starting with "Silver". Blue II, though, sounded very nicely in my basic system consisting of Auralic Vega G1 as the source and preamplifier, Hegel H20 power amplifier, and Audiovector QR5 floorstanding speakers. What a mésalliance we have here - budget cables would fit better to a high-end system. Most clients will not go that far. Blue II will rather end up in systems worth no more than £2,000. It will sometimes be a combination of a network stereo receiver and some sensible, budget loudspeakers, such as ELAC Debut Reference DBR62, Sonus Faber Lumina I, SA Saxo 5, Pylon Audio Ruby Monitor, or Mission ZX-2. And I have a feeling that they will work perfectly. These cables will make the sound smoother without depriving it of dynamics and absorbing every detail like a sponge. With any luck, they will also to some extent neutralise the dryness and grain, which the owners of the budget amplifiers and speakers have to struggle with. The only exception is the USB cable. You can still hear a lot of smoothness, but I would treat it as a neutral one because the slight tendency to make the sound nice and warm is balanced by pretty great dynamics, as well as the soundstage. To be honest, this is exactly what I would recommend, with a clear conscience, to someone looking for a decent USB cable. As for the rest of the series, I would recommend it to the owners of the systems which do lack coherence, smoothness, and a touch of pleasant warmth but not dynamics and clarity. Blue IIs can fill all the gaps and make the music even more pleasant to hear.
Build quality and technical parameters
Tellurium Q Blue II is the newest creation of the British factory specialised in audiophile cables. As for the technical data and parameters, I could stop here. Tellurium Q has its policy of not sharing any information of this kind with anyone. The manufacturer states that the changes in the internal structure in comparison to the previous series allow us to obtain better sound for reasonable money. The changes in the analogue cables involved almost all elements - conductors, screening, geometry, and the material used as the dielectric. Unlike in the original Blue series, the Blue II interconnect wasn't just created to complement the speaker cable, but rather as an independent product. And that is exactly how jumpers were created as well. They will work with any wires that connect the amplifier and speakers, but it will perform best when connected to the Blue II speaker cable. Besides, well, what can I say? The cables are quite pretty. So colourful. Oh, I know! The colour of the sleeve in the speaker cable and the jumpers is #3E3C8F, and in the RCA interconnect and XLR it is #006EC9...
Audiovector QR5, Equilibrium Nano, Pylon Audio Ruby Monitor, Marantz HD-DAC1, Auralic Vega G1, Hegel H20, Unison Research Triode 25, Sennheiser HD 600, Cambridge Audio CP2, Clearaudio Concept, Cardas Clear Reflection, Albedo Geo, Equilibrium Pure Ultimate, Enerr One 6S DCB, Enerr Tablette 6S, Enerr Transcenda Ultra, Enerr Transcenda Ultimate, Norstone Esse.
If I was mean, I could say that Tellurium Q is an excellent example of a company that succeeded only thanks to untraceable things and to reviewers', distributors', dealers', and, finally, clients' subjective-positive opinions. Its design philosophy is unclear and based on something everybody can state. The research on signal flow and fighting phase distortion? Fine, but what exactly does it mean? The descriptions of particular products are only collections of declarations regarding the sound and parts of reviews, which are nothing else than subjective opinions. If Geoff Merrigan was a complete beginner, I think I wouldn't even review these cables. I'd think someone is joking around and perhaps each and every model is basically a soviet antenna cable in a nice outer sleeve. But the thing is we are not talking about five or ten positive reviews written on a dying forum by some audiophile newbies. The reviews and awards tab is endless, which does not surprise me at all. What we get for little money is very elegant and well-made cables, which do exactly what they are supposed to - offer the sound that will work in 90 percent of budget systems. These cables will be sold in massive numbers. Would it make any difference if the manufacturer's website, all of a sudden, featured detailed descriptions of the internal structure of each cable including cross-sections, diameters, material composition, and a certificate confirming the highest purity of copper or silver? Probably not. You may treat this very review either seriously or add it to a rich collection of literature that tells nothing about Tellurium Q cables. Unless, of course, subjective opinions also mean something in this matter... Don't they?
Conductor: Yes, there's one there
Available lengths: Oh, different
Pricing: £16.50 (1 m SP), £60 (4 Jumpers) £180 (1m RCA IC), £235 (1m XLR IC), £186 (1m USB IC)
Manufacturer: Tellurium Q