Tellurium Q is a relative newcomer, known for three things; high quality audio cables, quite unusual approach to signal transmission and its secrets almost fanatically guarded. The word is that this English manufacture is a phenomenon and a number of prestigious awards gathered in rather short time surely gives one something to think about. Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf is this review’s hero. Enjoy!
Tellurium Q was established in England in 2009. The official site gives some insight about how it all started. Let’s travel back in time to one afternoon. I have no idea which one exactly, surely several years ago, but that’s of no importance. The place itself is, a recording studio somewhere in Somerset, that’s South Western England. As a business advisor of this establishment, Geoff Merrigen visited it regularly. Back then both him and the place’s owner, very tech-savvy man, had a discussion about how certain pieces of the audio puzzle influence the sound. This scientifically and technically heavy talk led to cables at some point and the takeaway was that these items were the the weak link. It all started quite innocently, a wire is a wire and that’s that, its sole purpose is to pass a signal of sufficient power and that’s it. After an hour of discussing theoretical and transmission related principles, our gents were convinced that they were able to single-out and nail the fundamental issue of the process itself. They’ve experienced their DaVinci moment apparently, all clicked on the absolute level for them and that’s how the one and only Tellurium Q operation was born. A leap of faith happened.
The following steps were pure downhill. Heavy resources were invested in Tellurium Q’s R&D department, several investments in rather unusual tools were made and a bit later on the very first product was ready – Tellurium Q Black. It outgrew initial expectations of its creators by a mile and several local audio shops expressed their interest. The word is that Merrigan didn’t have to look for them at all. On the contrary in fact, which is rather rare in this wacky business. Usually it’s the other way around, a new audio manufacture has to look for places keen to give its goods a go. In any case, many things changed since then, Tellurium Q’s portfolio expanded significantly, a number of its own semi-products was introduced, i.e. tellurium copper based plugs. Yours truly is sure that there’s more to this topic than this one example, though Geoff (a very open, chatty, easygoing and witty character) has his lips sealed as far as his company’s secrets go. It’s hard to shake off the feeling that he has at least several aces up in his sleeve. And since Tellurium Q products are based on these cards, the man doesn’t want to show ’em. Hey, it’s a competitive market and such an approach surely makes him quite the Poker player. This scribe is fine with secrets that have to remain undiscovered, no pressure whatsoever. But whether you are is not for me to say. In any case, if the performance is up there along with all the talk, we’re dandy and Tellurium Q related press coverage thus far indicates that something very tasty is on. Geoff and his crew have to know a thing or two about cable manufacturing, such a generous outcome can’t be a mere struck of luck, can it? Methinks nay, especially this severe.
The official Tellurium Q site is in general mysterious, yet several interesting things are to be found there nonetheless. This company’s goods were made to combat phase distortions, namely to reduce their effect, which positively impacts sound quality. Here the signal itself is important as well. Geoff sees it as an analogue process even in digital cables. And every material used during the assembly is a filter, which contributes to the shape of electrons’ stream on its way from point A to B. How Tellurium Q gents keep this crucial part of the travel in check? Now that’s their sweet secret. This sauce is apparently the ground foundation of their work, hence they won’t spill it no matter what. Geoff confessed that the trick is not that easy to begin with, a compromise between semi-products has to be made in order to deliver something that actually works as intended. During the R&D phase details are on the table; type, thickness and plating material on plugs used, distance and geometry between wires and the wire itself to name a few. It’s a process our mystery man is fascinated by. The longer he’s into it, the more joy it rewards him with.
Let’s take a good long look at Tellurium Q portfolio first. It’s quite clear and understandable, that’s undeniable, but also unusual to say the least. It all revolves around three different product families; Blue, Black and Silver. Each of these has its sound profile defined precisely, a listener knows what’s what in a jiffy, namely which series brings what to the table regardless of a cable type. The way I see it is that say a speaker cable, an interconnect and a power leash all from the same group share the same solutions and secrets, hence the engineering doesn’t change and if so, only mildly. That’s my guess at least, though I have no viable way to verify these assumptions as that’s my very first journalistic contact with Tellurium Q products and the second one in general. But this I’m aware of as early as now: if one is able fully purposely make two different products from the same range to impact the sound in the same exact way, this person surely has to know a thing or two about fine art of cable making. And that’s what the Tellurium Q offer is all about in a nutshell. They do communicate very directly that their goods are based on actions planned from the get-go and executed accordingly and not on working blind folded. Whether one believes in this is a completely different story. In any case, we’ll get down to the bottom of it, the proof is in the listening after all.
Another quite peculiar site on the Tellurium Q horizon are the families themselves. Most manufacturers build their portfolio around different price points, namely it starts from an entry level, then there’s mid tier and top shelf closes the offer. Our Englishmen don’t, they think differently. Yes, the price range approach is visible in their products as well, that’s rather unavoidable, yet the focus lies elsewhere, it all comes down to three differently sounding profiles and each is of a different colour. And this threesome quite logically and clearly interleaves itself. The Blue series is the starting point, then more kosher Ultra Blue kicks in, Black is next in line and Silver resides above these. One would think that the colorful English case is mapped and that’s it, wouldn’t he? Well, hardly, we aren’t there yet.
Above the regular Silver family there’s Blue yet again, but of poshier breed known as Diamond. Odd, ain’t it? Blue was the foundation after all and now it turns out that – according to our Englishmen – its Diamond version is a notch better than vanilla flavoured Silver, the one with no additions in its name and previously seen at the pinnacle. That’s not all of it as this scheme repeats itself several times. If one thinks it’s easy to get lost in all this, luckily Tellurium Q took the necessary measure to prevent that. The very same schematic is seen on every English product’s description page there is and is not a mystery that begs to be solved, on the contrary. Said chart is properly informational and every human being capable of distinguishing one colour from another will know what’s what. Moving on, past the most pimped out Blue family, Ultra Black and Ultra Silver are next in line, then Blue Diamond marks its presence and Silver Diamond a bit above closes the list. Well, almost. This was the status quo not too long ago, but recently Tellurium Q family expanded again, the Statement series emerged. In any case, this review’s main dish – Silver Diamond Waveform hf – is the best and the priciest (€835 per one meter excl. local VAT) USB cable there is. At least at the moment of writing these words, the 22nd of February 2018 that is. Sooner or later we’ll probably see the Statement USB leash, though this is mere guesswork at this scribe’s end and not an announcement of any sort.
Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf looks very plain. Since it’s stripped from visual glamour completely, people after audio bling will say ‘nay’ to such a product. It’s quite obvious that this one was built to please ones ears and not eyes and during its assembly only the necessary stuff was used. To be perfectly honest, every cable by Tellurium Q shares this attitude. Their task is to perform and that’s what one pays for. Yes, Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf is well-made in strictly technical sense, namely it’s built to last and assembled cleanly. But the audio jewelry status badge? Nope, not in this case. Yours truly is subjectively perfectly fine with this and probably so is quite the number of other like-minded people, hence individuals into performance in the first place and not looks. Cables remain unseen behind our racks filled with audio equipment after all, aren’t they?
Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf is finished with USB type A at one end and B type of the same sort sits at the other one. The product is directional, a small arrow seen on one of two heat shrinks indicates so. This is adorable, though not really useful. A D/A converter can be fed by a streamer or a laptop only in one way standardized many moons ago. Moving on, near the USB plug of B type, right under white heat shrink, one can sense probably a passive filter, though it’s mere guesswork here. I was far from splitting open the product just to ease my own curiosity. The name of the cable might indicate that the wire inside is silver, yet it’s not. Silver plating is the case, though thickness, alignment and the exact number of layers is the company’s secret and it’s highly likely that one of the most important ones.
The cable sits in probably polyester sleeve. A small wire loosely twisted around the core is in there too, it connects the two ends. Both plugs are not gold plated but regularly silver, or at least that’s how they look like. The product served me since November 2017 and it took quite the beating during that time. It was and still is easy to use and reliable, though quite stiff, especially near both plugs. This translates to some additional space needs behind my equipment, though nothing deal-breaking at all. This slight inconvenience is actually a journo’s bread and butter. Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf is not affordable, though its price is not ridiculous, it’s not on that level yet. And lastly, all Tellurium Q products are in-house made, in England. But that’s hardly a shocker to anyone who might get himself familiarized with this material.
In order to review the Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf, Swiss Boenicke W8 floorstanders and English Trilogy 925 integrated were used. As per usual, Polish LampizatOr Golden Gate (Psvane WE-101D + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.) D/A converter was fed with files via Asus UX305LA laptop. The English USB cable worked alternately with a regular €1 USB leash I snatched from a printer nearby. At some point, Polish Forza AudioWorks Copper Series Twin USB with €85 on its price tag joined the show. During three months long and extensive Tellurium Q product’s usage, several additional heavyweight devices appeared in my audio cave, which undoubtedly helped in this assignment. Here’s the story.
Let’s take a look at the Tellurium Q sound profile table first. The Blue series is described as warm, saturated, forgiving and working nicely in home AV installations. The Black family sits on the opposite side of the scale. In its case, detail retrieval and resolution are emphasized, though Black is also said to be smooth and organic. The Silver family must operate somewhere in-between the two then, at least that’s how I see it after getting myself familiar with all the nfo visible on the manufacturer’s site. The Silver loom is described as free from any additional colour injections, effortlessly sounding, with details in check, without natural palette related alterations and with finely separated low end. That’s what the table says. Well, after giving the Silver Diamond Waveform hf a go within my own four walls, fully responsibly I can say this as early as now: this product is no more and no less but this kind of a performer exactly.
Let’s start with a background story first. Shortly past picking up my loaner from a local Tellurium Q rep, to a drawer it went. The cable, not a distributor, he’s a nice guy. Several burning matters after the Polish audio event forced my attention, that’s one thing. And the second matter is that there was a very clear and easygoing agenda of what will be done with the English product. Since I was told that this is not a time sensitive case, the intention was to exploit it. The initial plan was to be lazy and allow things to happen naturally. Here it might sound odd to many people, but an ordinary printer USB cable was on at first. The adjustment process lasted a week or so, that was the starting point. Every reviewer has his own methods when cables related work is on and once a USB product arrives, this is my way. In short, the sound with a cheap printer leash didn’t hurt. The reference platform is – dare I say – very enjoyable, hence there was no valid reason to complain. Several things changed once this cable was on duty. But again, the overall experience was far from painful. Moving on, since there was no rush with the silvery model, occupied with daily routine I quickly forgot what was in-between the Golden Gate and my laptop. Finally the time has come to tackle the English matter. This was done just to ease inner curiosity. The reviewer’s mindset wasn’t on just yet. The plan was to quickly ‘see’ what will happen and get back to the usual tasks.
At some point, the cheap bastard of a cable was off duty, the English flagship jumped on-board and after this I quickly got back to an interrupted errand. To do so turned out to be difficult, to a point where my full attention had to be given to the English leash. “But why?” – one might ask and rightfully so. Things happened in an instant, that’s why. A moment of listening, then first cable swap, a track in the hot seat yet again, another cable change, comfy chair again and the process like so a number of times more. “Hmm, interesting”, was the initial impression. In order to grasp what just happened, not hours but several on and offs were sufficient and the following days reassured me that observations early on were legit. Differences introduced by Silver Diamond Waveform hf at work were quite easy to target. This would give not one but many enthusiasts something to think about. “How come? Why? It shouldn’t be audible, should it?” and then some. If the performance increase with the silvery leash at work is there and way above barely audible, who cares?
The delta of changes was unusually and clearly audible, but please don’t get me wrong here, the sound didn’t turn upside down. The intensity scale is not comparable to say two different floorstanders swap, nothing of the sort. Still, once several small alterations work in a way understandable, well-sketched and easy to digest, the outcome is something far from subtle or barely on the edge of our perception. And cables do grow on people in time, the initial “Wow!” or “OK, interesting” effect will get amplified. Okay, I’m fully aware that at least several individuals will scratch their heads in disbelief at this point. They’ll say out loud that my meds intake this morning is far above the OD level and the USB related blasphemy written here is the outcome. But to my subjective pair of ears that’s the story with Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf. Its presence in my setup doesn’t go unnoticed as far as sound goes. Far from it and that’s the bottom line.
When the silvery leash is on, nothing is changed in a blunt way. Any tonal balance tweaks and shifts are the first thing many people are after, yet this doesn’t happen in our English case. Not at all. When Boenicke W8 are fed with Trilogy 925, the outcome is highly organic, coherent and pleasure oriented, but conservatively agile at best. It’s felt that meat is on the solid bones and not warmth but highly involving musical substance is on. Well, Silver Diamond Waveform hf doesn’t change this. It neither cranks the heat up nor makes it cooler and leaner and no audible input on these counts leads to one simple conclusion in the process. Yes, the Tellurium Q USB flagship is a very transparent beast, hence a perfect tool for the journalistic job.
To move along the transparency lines, this review’s hero is not a forgiving type. Yes, certain things it introduces to make a bad sound slightly more tolerable. But i.e. an overly contour picture won’t suddenly become pleasantly soft and to reverse this, a fuzzy outcome won’t have its edges emphasized, I wouldn’t go this far. Again, it’s about small and well-thought alterations combined altogether and not a major twist on one specific count. Bass is the next stop. With Silver Diamond Waveform hf on duty, the initial impression is that the outcome is a bit leaner, but that’s just surface scratching. The change downstairs is very precise. If boominess is present in a given room, it will become slightly less audible and that’s how my W8 floorstanders responded to the silvery company in my room. But the more important change with this cable at work is audibly deeper reach and tighter grasp of the whole low FR. The fat located in the deepest layer is neither subtracted nor added, but it somehow makes the muscles to move more decisively. Point being, Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf shows that bass can be improved, yet with transparency in check and dynamics not overdone in any way.
Good USB cables are known for their background cleaning service and the English leash is no different in this regard. Less grain translates to higher resolution and ease of ‘seeing’ things in the virtual space is elevated in the process. But this audiophile blackness aside, the whole picture doesn’t become artificially cleansed, namely no organic tissue is taken in return. With Silver Diamond Waveform hf, the image is more orderly, physiological so to speak, more moist even, present and in general works more naturally. In this regard, the cheap vanilla USB cable falls over painfully and breaks both legs, with finely recorded music the difference is at times nothing short but plainly big. This commonly used item is far grainier and sports that artificial metallic tint able to evolve into something highly irritating. When the product by Tellurium Q is on, the music flows more effortlessly and fluently, with not a hint of excessive tension at all and these aspects make the sound much more enjoyable.
Several changes in imaging is the next stop. Silver Diamond Waveform hf doesn’t boost the space as far as its width goes, it doesn’t show a picture bigger than a given speakers are able to showcase. Or maybe it happens and my reference W8 are so majestic in this regard that I’m not able to tell, I have no idea. But what’s very clear to my ears is that instruments are very finely separated one from another, which makes ’em more ‘visible’, easier to single-out if desired and amplified insight into a recording itself is yet another upshot. Events in front of a listener are also of better quality, more plots happen as far as the soundstage depth goes. One can peel layer after layer more effortlessly, though the main prize winner is the first row. The outcome is more natural in the process and a swap to a regular printer cable makes everything flatter and drier.
It’s also good to know that the English performer is very smooth, yet it doesn’t make the sound diluted. It serves high FR in a brilliantly present way. Both mass of all instruments and their decay check out, though highs aren’t more audible than usually, no boost occurs. Everything’s properly orderly here. At this point I could write additional words about differences between the Polish operation’s product and this review’s main dish, yet there’s no point. Tellurium Q Silver Diamond hf is on many levels plainly better, able to alterations way above the other product’s reach. Priced at €85, Forza AudioWorks Copper Series Twin USB is far superior to the vanilla printer cable i.e. in terms of smoothness and grain removal service without no trade-offs. But the English leash plays in a different, far higher league and that’s what one pays for. This exceptionally smooth, coherent and transparent product is a class of its own on every count there is. All things considered, it’ll do the job just right in every system I can think of, case closed.
This scribe’s first journalistic Tellurium Q experience turned out to be unusually interesting. Products by this English audio house are said to be special and able to keep the guard up during brawls with every competition there is. Additionally, several local journos are happy with Geoff’s goods in their rigs. This bunch doesn’t settle for less, they’re picky, which hopefully proves the point to at least some extent. But this aside, thus far I only suspected that in case of Tellurium Q something very interesting is on. Now I know what exactly.
Apologies for repeating myself here, yet it’s mandatory to say this once more: the Tellurium Q people know what they’re doing. Their flagship USB cable is the very reason why I think that there’s no coincidence in their work. Of course this is just one man’s tale and as such it should be taken with a grain of salt. But within my own four walls, the Silver Diamond Waveform hf leash performed not barely, mildly or even similarly to the manufacturer’s on-site description, but exactly like so and also posh and with great class in general. Geoff Merrigan politely yet firmly showcased the ‘I know it, trust me’ attitude during several conversations we’ve had. He explained his products’ input completely effortlessly and with no room to maneuver, like if it was the well-known fact, the indisputable truth. Now being fully aware of why, I can’t blame the man for being vocal about it. Not at all, he knows them inside out and that’s very helpful. Not ifs and buts but direct and precise descriptions are what customers usually look for when the cables related talk is on. Needless to say, in this regard the man himself Geoff nails it. Trust me, I know.
An USB cable somewhere in the upper three figures realm is madness to many people and Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf is no exception. This product is built like a tank, though very plainly and usually looking. Visuals wise the money aren’t there, that’s obvious. But the listening is where it’s at, it verifies everything and not one but many naysayers would be surprised what a very good USB cable can do. Tellurium Q Waveform hf introduces changes not subtle but audible, I’m positive that present to anyone keen to actually have a proper sit down in the hot seat and focus for a short while. It’s heard rather instantly that something good is going on and there’s no way around it. In the context of my reference rig’s value, the quality leap this big makes the Tellurium Q flagship USB cable’s ask rather easy to swallow and justified. Helluva good cable this one is and if you’re wondering how good exactly, it’s quite easy. More than two times pricier and differently sounding Eunoia performer by Polish StavEssence operation aside, it’s the best one I’ve heard thus far. Highly recommended and ’till next time.
- Amplifiers: Trilogy 925
- Sources: Lampizator Golden Gate (Psvane WE101D-L + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
- Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, Gradient Evolution
- Transports: Asus UX305LA
- USB cables: ordinary €1 printer junk, Forza AudioWorks Copper Series Twin USB
- Speaker cables: Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept, Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence
- Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Noir, Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
- Power supply: Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence
- Rack: Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack
- Music: NativeDSD
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (excl. VAT):
- Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Waveform hf: €835
Supplier: Tellurium Q