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Assessing speaker wire : Tellurium Q Black II

I didn’t pay attention in chemistry lessons at school. It all seemed rather superfluous and academic for later life. Our teacher, Mr Robinson, had this annoying old fashioned preparatory habit of saying ‘come on now boy’, if ever there was a hint of misdemeanour. We used to sit on his ‘glass eye side’ as we thought we could get away with more.

Hop to 30 years later and Tellurium Qs only relationship to chemistry is in its name and being a chemical element in the periodic table, without the ‘Q’ of course. But Tellurium Q are known for not giving anything away about the design of their cables, which suits me as I don’t do ‘technophilia’. Even raising the periodic table would be as far as I go.

So having told you this, I’ve wasted a bit of your time on an analogy. Also, aren’t there sexier articles than those involving wire? And what is any sexiness, you shall ask? Well….. all of this thinking is erroneous really as it’s about sound quality sexiness and achieving this as a means to an end!

That said, I’ve always thought Tellurium Q products have a mysteriously functional, utilitarian and futuristic look about them. With their flat look and silver printed logos, a bit like something you might see connected up to Arnie’s head in the sci-fi film Total Recall as he goes on a ‘trip’. Your fridge might run on them in 2089. Looks matter for cables, if perhaps only in a small way. It’s not just a matter of functionality and sound quality. Seldom is it ever the case with any HiFi gear.

I’ve never tried Tellurium products and am interested to hear what the hype is about. I had a nice chat with Geoff Merrigan of Tellurium Q and some Tellurium Q Black and Black II speaker cables came all present and correct. A nice presentation box is supplied, the cables pleasingly ‘snaked up’ in the box with wrapping paper. They’d been run in too. Whilst on the subject of running, I should say I’ve been doing a few marathons recently….. they call them Snickers now 🙂

The difficulties with cable reviews are that differences can be slight and then at other times, more profound. Different ears and rooms and electronic connective variability come into a proverbial mixing pot of cable discernibility, sometimes giving more potential for variability than Imelda Marcos’ shoes. But HiFi isn’t some sort of connoisseur pursuit anyway, even though it may seem like it sometimes. It’s just that it’s often hard explaining differences, especially with cables. But lest us not forget, they are always a means to an end ;- serving the music and not letting the music serve the HiFi or cable.

I’ve no doubt that more than you think goes into building a cable firm like Geoff has. You have to employ people, rent premises, do marketing, develop products, buy insurance, etc. I’m sure the list is endless. With a relatively small audiophile market, that’s why audio cable prices can be, unto themselves, high. Any business exists in an economic bubble. But in the scheme of things the Black II speaker cable is a budget bonanza at £54/m ($65). The 10-20% rule of spending on cables to your total system value, is a sensible one. Also why not spend on cables because you like the sound they impart and they form a small part of the overall HiFi system price. The latter is going to be true of the Black II speaker cables in most audiophile systems, making these cables suitable for lots of high quality systems. What about the former?…..

Snake oil in the grass?

According to Tellurium’s Q’s website their Black range suits balanced systems and that’s what my system is. At least I think it is, or it pleasures me to this ideal…..oh ahhh!

Impetuosity got the better of me and I jumped right into trying the Black II. I’m currently using Chord Epic reference speaker cable connected to my PMC twenty 5 23’s. Also I have the excellent ISOL-8 Integra power conditioner at the moment, which is adding a great big scooping of tonal refinement. So I’ve had to get used to the conditioner, to be able to properly try these cables out.

Being drawn to pick main characteristics of what the Black II speaker cable is about, in my system at least, a few words spring to mind in swapping from what I’m used too. Air and space are most obvious and seemingly letting the music project itself. This allows for a description about added detail too. Geoff said listen out for micro details, and I’d agree they are abundant. An incisive sound is evident too without too much rounding off.

I found quite a bit of delicacy but that ties back into my comments about spaciousness. It’s no snowflake too with bass depth and punch being every bit as good as the PMCs can muster relative to trying lots of other cables. Certainly this cables licorice like proportions is at variance with its bass capabilities. With these characteristics, all the more tremendous when you consider price. I must admit I thought the Black II would be a bit of a lightweight against Epic reference.

In my system, Epic reference is a bit more rounded in the mid bass, and thicker sounding too, but these are very small differences. As to which I prefer – both! I’d take the Epic reference for its rounded full on sound, but have the Black II for its slight edge in the incisive and openness departments. This Tellurium Q is a very accurate cable too ; These specific sound quality traits are those I’ve garnered from chatting to others, without the hyperbole of many HiFi reviews making descriptions too flowery to be helpful. On some accounts, these traits are what Tellurium Q strive for.

For me the original Black is a little less full in projection, giving a slightly shrunk soundstage and lower outright detail. Considering minimal ‘price to change’, if the difference in your system is similar to that I’m hearing, it represents a worthwhile upgrade. As always, try first.

Is it really possible for main characteristic sound traits to be picked out between wire reviews, such that parallels can be drawn of what the cable will likely do in your system? Sadly this is too difficult. Also people have different value judgements about worth of HiFi cables, but considering what the Tellurium Black II speaker cable achieves in my system at its modest price, for me it represents incredibly good value for money. There is absolutely no snake oil here and it comes very recommended to try out.

Test System

PMC Twenty5 23 speakers, Chord Qutest DAC with MCRU linear PSU, Innuos Zenith Mark 2 source/server, Cyrus DAC XP Signature pre amp with connected Cyrus PSX-R power supply, Cyrus Mono X200 Signature power amps, ISOL-8 Integra power conditioner connected to mains with ISOL-8 IsoLink Ultra power cable, Chord Signature tuned Aray XLR interconnects.

I also used a M2Tech Young MkIII pre amp/DAC as part of the system.

Price

  • Tellurium Q Black II –  £54/m (UK retail price) with banana or spade plugs.
  • (Original Black £51/m – no longer available)

Manufacturer details

Tellurium Q Ltd
The Willows, Bonds Pool
Langport , Somerset
TA10 9QJ
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel : +44 (0) 1458 251 997
Email : [email protected]

Written by Simon Price

I'm an AUDIO-LOVER who likes sharing experiences of faithfully reproduced audio in a CREDIBLE way. I am primarily interested in products; their looks, functionality and features, and most importantly how they sound! My reviews are not overly technical and I don't use pretentious language, as I believe great audio is non exclusive and is to be enjoyed by all! It's all about the music!

Digital to Analogue Converters (DACs)

Punching above: M2Tech Young MkIII DAC/preamplifier