Tellurium Q Silver Diamond speaker cable
I’ve lived with a three-meter pair of British-designed Tellurium Q Silver Diamond speaker cables (£804 per meter or approximately $1243.51 per meter) on a pair of Swiss-made soundkaos Wave 40 speakers for the past 3 months. In the time I’ve listened to this combination, I’ve immensely enjoyed the sound this the components produced together. There is clearly a synergy going on.
The Tellurium Q Silver Diamond speaker cables are beautifully made with CNC machined end caps, wide and flat in profile, substantial in heft and with connectors made to their own specifications and constructed with a specific mix of Tellurium and copper, plated in a specific manner. The terminations, offered in both bananas and spades, are easy to use and provide a good tight fit when locked down. They are very handsome cables. More than once, my wife remarked about how much she likes their aesthetic and build quality. As a rule, she only comments only about components she doesn’t like.
This company is well known for not sharing details on construction techniques, material choices or their manufacturing process, so no measurements are made available… Tellurium Q want us to use our ears, kick back and just listen to what the cables do – and especially for what the cables don’t do. Plus, keeping mum builds interest in a field where buzz words and opinions abound.
The folks at Tellurium Q Ltd, see audio systems as a series of electronic filters – they consider any cable an ‘electronic filter’, ‘whether you want it to be or not,’ asserting ‘any cable causes relative phase relationship issues for the signal.’ As such, they have worked hard to produce as neutral a ‘filter’ as possible with their cables. It is their hope that you’ll find the result as highly transparent, natural and as ’real’ in use as current technology will allow.
Tellurium Q states they ‘are focused in the distortion of relative phase frequencies. Not being a technical writer nor engineer, I don’t know exactly how phase distortion manifests itself, but my guess is timing issues that cause smear. In an effort to understand the origin of phase distortion, I referred to ’Audibility of Phase Distortion’ (http://www.silcom.com/~aludwig/Phase_audibility.htm) for insight, and I quote: ‘Any musical segment can be decomposed into harmonic components – that is, a sum of fixed frequency tones. There is universal agreement that changes in the relative amplitude of these components are audible..’Continuing to quote this source, ‘The observation that phase is very audible under some conditions is certainly not new, and is stated emphatically in an excellent paper by Lipscitz et al. (however it doesn’t seem to be universally accepted for some odd reason). A better question is: are phase changes audible under realistic listening conditions?’ Obviously, the folks at Tellurium Q Ltd think so – they’ve spend considerable hours of R & D perfecting their take on solving this issue.
According to the manufacturer, the cables benefit from a play of track 3 off their ‘Tellurium Q System Enhancement CD’ prior to any critical listening, even after a suitable break in period. Described as ‘a rapid yoga session for your system to wake it up and inject a little life in to your music,’ this track is thankfully playable while you’re in the same room, unlike some other break in discs whose frequency swipes and Frankenstein’s laboratory sounds cause a fight or flight response. It’s actually warm, disarming and quite musical in an avant-garde way and my system did seem to respond in a more relaxed manner to the music subsequently played. Tellurium Q urges use of their disc ‘to properly embed it before listening on a new system even when it is run in – almost like conditioning the system to make the most of the cable’s abilities. It may sound a bit strange that a system needs to be tuned up or put in tune to get the most from this cable but the cable is something quite unique as you will hear if your get the chance to listen to a system using it.’ Playing it certainly didn’t hurt.
After a month of break in and critical listening, I moved the Wave 40 speakers to a different system with different speaker cables. I missed the wonderful harmonious presentation as heard with the Silver Diamond’s on the Wave 40’s in the first system. Something seemed off and the music sounded detached, disjointed and somewhat rhythmically challenged. The Silver Diamond cables integrated remarkably well with the Wave 40’s and the strengths of these wonderful speakers came through with ease – the sound produced was both effortless, percussive and in a word, spellbinding, a cable selling at this price should aspire to such an endorsement.
Since, it’s easier to hear what’s been taken away, so I decided to replace the TQ’s with very respected and much lower cost speaker cables as a test. With my friend Tim here to help with quick cable swops, I playing a rip from the 2008 ECM Records release “Holon,” by Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, one thing became immediately apparent – The Tellurium Q Silver Diamond speaker cables simply allow music to flow unimpeded from amp to the speakers. We heard the difference in a nano second, it was that obvious. The TQ’s have an uncanny way of presenting even the most delicate information in a 3 dimensional manner, offering micro dynamic detail that other cables simply miss. Bass was powerful and, at times, presented with alarming drive for such relatively small speakers in this large loft space. Imaging was tight and focused and the soundstage substantial with an impressive depth considering the source was from a CD rip. I heard things I’d never heard before in this project, instrument timbers and textures seemed so vital, so palpable and significant to the musical experience. Skins from drums were presented with incredible depth and nuance and there were clicks and clacks from the instruments themselves than had been previously absent. At one point I felt the pianist reach into the piano and physically manipulate some of it’s strings to bring in other subtle textures – that in itself was mind-blowing.
There is a clarity these cables possess and an effortlessness they project. With the TQ’s in place, images between the speakers were delicate, yet finely etched, with a presence that felt absolutely essential to the music no matter how delicate the sound – and almost entirely absent with the far lower cost cables in their stead. So great was the veil that descended over the stage that the musical experience went soft-edged and noticeably lifeless. The depth of the soundstage reduced, images flattened across it’s front with far less dimension and depth and all those wonderful micro dynamics all but disappeared, as did the quality of macro dynamics. The bass lost it’s power and the music lost it’s immediacy and impact. The higher resolutions vanished. I promptly returned the TQ’s to the system in place of the lower-priced spread. With the TQ’s in place, Tim noticed that Lucky, our audio mascot (my cocker spaniel), was much more relaxed with the TQ’s in place.
For another test, I added jumpers to my normally bi-wired reference pair, the Eminent Technology LFT-8b hybrid planar/dynamic speaker, since the review pair of Silver Diamonds are not of the bi-wire variety and connected up to a solid state system comprised of a vintage db-1b preamp and a Emerald Physics EP100.2SE stereo power amp (reviewed here). The presentation was again harmonious and very well resolved when presented through the ET’s, both non-fatiguing and very enjoyable, with deep, controlled bass, wide-ranging dynamics, superb imaging on a great soundstage.
The Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables are as reference level a cable as I’ve ever heard. They possess a purity, resolve and ease far beyond those cables afforded by my budget. I will miss the added resolution, ‘rightness’ and musical truth they impart to the listening experience.
Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Speaker Cable
Price: $7,500.00 as reviewed ($1243.51 per meter)
Stereo Times Masthead
Frank Alles, Mike Girardi, Key Kim, Russell Lichter, Terry London, Moreno Mitchell, Paul Szabady, Bill Wells, Mike Wright, Stephen Yan, and Rob Dockery
David Abramson, Tim Barrall, Dave Allison, Ron Cook, Lewis Dardick, Dan Secula, Don Shaulis, Greg Simmons, Eric Teh, Greg Voth, Richard Willie, Ed Van Winkle, and Rob Dockery
Carlos Sanchez, John Jonczyk, John Sprung and Russell Lichter
Site Management Clement Perry
Ad Designer: Martin Perry