All cables are equal but some cables are more equal than others.
As George Orwell said in Animal Farm. Sort of. Given the snake oil prism through which many view cables it does feel kind of appropriate. Me? I don’t often get excited about wires, they can make a big difference though. And despite a decade’s good service—originally with B&W 802s—a little voice kept squawking ‘over the hill’ in the direction of my Chord Myth speaker cables. Time to find out.
Two emails and a jaunt up the M5 motorway later and I’m sitting in Tellurium Q’s listening room being regaled by boss Geoff Merrigan. We’re both ex-rugby guys so we get on. Well enough for him to press two sets of Tellurium Q Black speaker cables—Mk1 and Mk2—into my palms for the journey home.
Soon after, the Mk1s are tethering an Ayre AX-7e (£3,950) to Harbeth C7/2s (£2,650), Roon providing the music via an Allo USBridge (£140) and Mytek Brooklyn+ (£1,800). Graham Audio’s LS6 speakers (£2,200) also had a good run out. The Mk2s snuck in a fortnight later and stayed in situ for a while, then the Myths returned for conclusions to be drawn.
Tellurium Q make three ranges of cables, each designed to offer specific characteristics. Black is ostensibly neutral, Blue warms things up a bit, with Silver highlighting clarity and speed. Within each range there are differing levels, although not all cables (interconnects, speakers, power) are available at all levels – commercial realities prevail. Oh and don’t forget the megabuck Statement cables.
The Black 2 speaker cable itself runs out at £54/m, meaning £270 for my 2.5m pair (terminated). It may be entry level in the Black range but that’s not inexpensive. Expectations were therefore suitably high.
Merrigan keeps his technology close to his chest, although see here for a little insight. Overall the aim is to provide clarity and transparency by reducing the phase distortion in cables. His wires are also said to be directional, something I didn’t test (Pandora’s box anyone?)
The looks are straightforward, not drawing undue attention to themselves—the photos speak better than I can. Construction standards are high, as they should be, including the banana connectors that manage to feel solid but are also discrete. Bottom line—the Blacks aren’t showy, they just get on with the job. Suits me fine.
It was simple. Compared to either of the Tellurium Qs the Chord Myths were just hazier, notes blurring into each other, making it difficult to follow music. Like trying to talk after a few drinks. Not unpleasant to be fair (!) but swapping in the Mk1 Blacks brought clarity to proceedings without losing the tonality of the partnering speakers. Neutral indeed, and they got rid of the mush. Both as per Geoff’s design brief.
Witness Allison/Cardenas/Nash’s version of Bimini from Quiet Revolution in which a double bass replaces the piano of Petrucciani’s seminal recording. Through the Myths it doesn’t really work, an indistinct thrumming in the background messing with the guitar and drums. Switching in the TQ Blacks let you hear its contribution—real bass, not bass by proxy.
That trait is replicated across the whole spectrum, with performers more clearly placed in the recorded acoustic and more detail coming through. They don’t overdo it though, nothing is stripped out that shouldn’t be.
Stepping up to the Black Mk2s brought a bit more of the same, with greater air at the top, more midband clarity, and taughter bass. Olympic Fanfare from the Cincinnati Pops / Kunzel is a typical Telarc recording with full on brass and thunderous percussion. Best played loud with the music assaulting you. Possibly why Richard E Lord—Mr REL himself—used it as a demonstration disc in his early days.
With the Mk2s there was more air around performers and greater control at the lower end, the originals sounding homogenized in comparison. The bass lines were easier to follow and there was a smidge more clarity across the board. Also a slightly extended treble—Kunzel was even more majestic—but not overly so. The Black 2s worked their magic across every other type of music.
The TQ Black Mk1s showed the Chord Myths a clean pair of heels. No contest. Stepping up to the Mk2s brought subtle but noticeable improvements. Possibly not enough to justify the hit to upgrade if you have the originals, but that’s kudos to the Mk1s, not a comment on the Mk2s.
With analytical reviewing ears engaged, the Blacks made it easier to hear what was going on elsewhere in the chain, from source to speaker. More importantly though there’s the music—performers spoke that little bit more directly through the Tellurium Qs
The Black 2s are not inexpensive but neither are they silly money. Is £54/m good value for speaker cables? If they perform like these then that would be a big yes then.
Tellurium Q Black MK 2 Speaker Cable
Tellurium Q Ltd