Tellurium Q Ultra Blue II Loudspeaker Cable Review
Jay Garrett has flare-flapping fun listening to this fine new affordable speaker wire…
Ultra Blue II Speaker Cable
S$55 (~US$40) per metre
This young British company is a modern success story. Over the past decade or so, Tellurium Q has made a name for itself in one of hi-fi's most crowded market sectors – audio cables. Although it does high-end products too, its particular sweet spot is the 'affordable audiophile' Blue range. The new Ultra Blue II variant that you see here sits between the Blue and Black families and remains at the preceding cable's price of S$29 per metre. In real terms then, a 2.5m stereo pair comes in at a total of S$275 (~US$200), plus termination, which is S$11 (~US$8) per length for both ends, with either spade or banana plugs.
The company's Managing Director, Geoff Merrigan, has hitherto played his cards extremely close to his chest regarding what materials go into his designs – and so it goes with the new Ultra Blue II. However, I did manage to extract from him under heavy interrogation that the dielectric has been changed. Also, I believe that the conductors are sourced from two different locations, so there's a mix of conductors with a “tweaked” geometry. Beyond that, there are no bullet points in a press pack or accompanying email upon which to elaborate.
Instead, what you get is one of the company's redesigned boxes holding the cables wrapped in tissue paper – no vast fanfare or packaging layers to make an impressive unboxing video, then! Instead, you get the sense that you're paying for well put together, relatively slim and inconspicuous cables with attractive blue, soft and non-microphonic sheathing. Compared to its predecessor, Ultra Blue II is a slightly darker colour, and the outer jacket has a more rubberised feel to it than the smoother outgoing model.
After spending some time getting reacquainted with the original Ultra Blue's smooth and slightly warm character, it was time to see what – if anything – had changed. For the most part, I had the cables tethering together an Anthem STR integrated amplifier and a pair of Audiovector's rather fine R 3 Arreté floorstanders. For cables in this price range, this equipment would usually be above their pay grade. However, I wanted the best chance of identifying any differences between the new and old guard and, through experience, also know that TQ cables have a habit of exceeding expectations.
The Ultra Blue II speaker cable produced a sound signature typical of the manufacturer's Blue family, which presents music with a soft, subtly rich timbre and gentle warmth. Although not as analytically detailed as those in the Black range and above, the new Ultra Blue II nevertheless proved highly rhythmically engaging. Whether it was Grover Washington Jnr's Winelight or Nine Inch Nails' The Hand That Feeds, the Ultra Blue II was an appreciable step up in its ability to connect the listener more directly to the music.
Compared to the recently released Blue II, I found a better sense of depth and subtlety with the Ultra Blue II. A case in point was Foreplay/ Long Time by Boston; along with a noticeably wider soundstage than the first edition Ultra Blue, instrumental placement within the soundstage – especially front-to-back – was better defined with the new cable. Although not as transparent as the company's high-end cables, the Ultra Blue II has a beautiful cohesiveness, letting you relax into the music rather than listen to your hi-fi…
Hooking-up the Ultra Blue II between a Naim Uniti Atom and a pair of Focal Aria 906 standmounters, those characteristics remained. There was a hint of warmth and nuance which rounded the teeth slightly of the Focal's aluminium/magnesium tweeter, which some listeners could find a touch too keen. This, in part, also made for a more precise and extended low end and a more enjoyable sound overall. Indeed this speaker cable proved ideally voiced for budget and lower mid-priced systems.
Overall, Tellurium Q's new Ultra Blue II is undoubtedly an improvement over the previous model, which was already a darned fine speaker cable that won the hearts of many who auditioned it. However, if I may be so bold, putting the new against the old, it's clear that there's a definite refinement in dynamics and instrumental coherence. This makes the Ultra Blue II a serious upgrade that delivers excellent performance at its price point.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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