Review: Tellurium Q Ultra Blue / Ultra Blue II Speaker Cables
Not being a company to rest on its laurels, Tellurium Q continually looks at how it can improve its products. Last year, it upgraded its entry-level Blue cable range to the Blue II (HFC 469) and now it has launched a successor to its Ultra Blue cable, the Ultra Blue II. According to MD Geoff Merrigan its approach to audiophile cables is rather unusual as it prioritises research on the nature of electric signals, physical phenomena and materials when creating its cables. It likes to keep the technical details close to its chest and wants the performance of the products to speak for themselves. To this end, HFC is sent a set of both the original Ultra Blue and the new Ultra Blue II to compare and review.
Out of the Blue
Tellurium Q employs special blends of materials for conductors, insulators and connectors in order to minimise the phase distortion, which the company believes smears audio frequencies. Consideration has been given to the composition of these materials, as well as to the physical construction of the cables and the geometries of the conductor layout within. For example, multiple stranded conductors of slightly differing compositions are used in the Blue cables, together with various dielectric materials. In the past it has used PTFE as an insulator in the Blue range, but it has found that the dielectric properties of PTFE (as well as PVC), vary significantly with temperature and frequency, which is obviously not a desirable characteristic. As a consequence, Tellurium Q now uses its own new dielectric material here. The price of the two cables is exactly the same. Tellurium Q has streamlined its production processes so it doesn’t need to charge more for the Ultra Blue II, even in the face of rising material costs. Both versions are very well made and the banana plugs fitted are of high quality. In order to compare each set of cables I connect them in turn to my 300B valve Class A monoblocks and transmission line speakers. Playing Dvorak’s Symphony No.9 by the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra with the Ultra Blues fitted, the fourth movement Allegro sees the brass section leaping energetically across the musical score with plenty of enthusiasm. Switching over to the Ultra Blue IIs imparts a greater degree of refinement to the music
The imaging is more clearly focused and the orchestra sounds much wider.
A very bright recording of Simon And Garfunkel’s Song For The Asking has good clarity, and its inherent edginess is very well controlled by the original Ultra Blue. The timing is spot on, with excellent detail and great musicality. I do, however, sense an improved clarity with the Ultra Blue II. Suddenly the vocals and guitar seem more in front of the accompanying strings, which are nicely recessed in the background. Switching sources and playing a copy-master tape from Chasing The Dragon’s Vivaldi Concertos by Interpreti Veneziani, the music is very captivating with both cables. I’m able to locate all of the eight players individually across my listening room, and in particular the detail of the cello with Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in A major is fantastic. I really feel I’m sitting within a few feet of the performer. The soundstage has great depth, but appears wider with the Ultra Blue II.
Staying with tape, a copy-master reel of Jung-A Lee’s JS Bach’s Prelude In B Minor is breath-taking and all of the huge dynamic range from the tape is present with both cables. The Ultra Blue II has better awareness of the environment and I feel I’m transported to the Concert Hall, without the cost of the air fare! Branford Marsalis’ playing of Satie’s Gymnopedie No.3 on his LP is mournful and emotional. The balance between sax and orchestra is spot-on with both cables, but the imaging is more clearly focused with the Ultra Blue II and the orchestra sounds slightly wider. Overall, the top end of the Ultra Blue II is more elegant and the bass punchier.