Upgrading its entry-level design, Paul Rigby wonders how the Blue II cables will fare against the originals and the competition and, whilst doing so…reveals a company secret!
Some might say that it’s about time. It’s certainly been a while. Tellurium Q’s entry-level speaker cables have been a rip-roaring success ever since the model emerged on the market around 2010. Blimey, how time doth fly.
Not that you will see much of a change just by looking at the things. Apart from the addition of the ‘II’ indicator, that is.
It’s all happening on the inside though, as research and development of the more recent and higher-end ranges have trickled down and been utilised.
Some of the changes include an increased asymmetric shielding, multiple new dielectrics, internal structural changes with geometry tweaks plus conductor changes.
THE SECRET’S OUT
Before we continue with the Blue II review, I want to take a quick tangent. It’s relevant, so please hear me out.
I was the guy who reviewed the original Tellurium Blue cables back in 2010, for the UK news-stand magazine HiFi World, as ‘new-kid’ Tellurium Q was just finding its feet in the hi-fi industry. Back then, I liked the cables very much indeed.
Actually, I still have those original cables in my collection.
Co-incidentally, Tellurium Q was kind enough to supply me with a pair of its original Blue cables that it recently picked up from its warehouse, in case I wanted to compare the original Blue I cables with the new Blue II cables.
As I say, TQ sent its own Blue I cables to me and didn’t know that I still had in my possession, the original 2010 version cables. The first printing, you might say.
When I unpacked the Tellurium Q-supplied Blue I cables, I noted how different they looked to my Blue I originals. The Tellurium Q-supplied Blue Is were sheathed in a lighter blue with a matt-ish wrapping. I wondered if the change was purely aesthetic. My curiosity got the better of me so I decided to do a quick A-B sound test of the two Blue cables before I got around the looking at the Blue IIs.
I’m glad I did.
The early production, 2010 cables, let’s call them Blue I (early), still provided an excellent performance although high-frequency noise wasn’t as low as the newer looking Blue I cables I now had in my possession. Let’s call them Blue I (late).
Bass was a tad more accentuated on the Blue I (early), space wasn’t in the same abundance either while the mids were relatively veiled and so clarity and transparency were a notch or two further down from the performance of the Blue I (late) while the neutrality and balance were tipped towards the warm on the Blue I (early).
Dynamic reach was also clipped on the Blue I (early) cables which meant that the finer detail of the Blue I (late) just wasn’t there.
In short, the Blue I (late) cables were far superior to the Blue I (early). To an extent that they sounded like different cables. The changes were that great.
I wondered what on earth was going on.
I confronted Tellurium Q about this, asking it why it improved the Blue I cables in this way yet didn’t do the seemingly logical thing and, you know, like actually telling anyone about it. While the product name never changed. In any way. At all. Ever.
I received an almost bemused and rather naive response. Tellurium Q admitted that it was in the habit of constantly improving its products and that it never told anyone about these mid-period updates.
The impression I had was that – and I had difficulty getting my head around this – the company didn’t know anyone would be that interested! Almost as if that was the ‘done’ thing. Well it’s not. Actually. Really, it’s not.
So it looks like Tellurium Q does the following then. It works on a product, it announces it, it sends it to magazines for review, we get to hear about it and learn of its capabilities, then we think that’s that then. But after the review, the company goes back to the workshop, works on improvements, releases them, fails to tell anyone about it, doesn’t change or append the product name to give anyone a clue that something has occurred, then goes back to the workshop and starts all over again. And again!
It was about this time in the conversation with the company that I mentally threw up my hands, in true Oliver Hardy fashion, complete with matching facial expression.
Put it this way, while the latest Blue I cable is 10 years younger than the original model, it is around 10 light years away, in sonic terms, from the first iteration of the Blue I. You might as well call the Blue I (late) the Pink I or Orange I or Kevin or anything. It certainly isn’t anything like a Blue I (early).
Looking at both iterations side by side, the only clue you have is a slightly lighter colour of the more recent Blue I cable. And you need the two to be next to each other to see that. And in real life with natural light too, the photographs here don’t offer the best contrast. And even if you noted the fact, you’d probably pass it off as an aesthetic change.
So what are we to do about this? For now, my recommendation is that you should only buy Tellurium Q products from recognised dealers. They will receive the very latest updated technologies. To repeat, I would do that if you want to receive the latest updates from Tellurium Q. Hence, if you see a great second-hand deal on eBay for Tellurium Q cables then sure, go for that and enjoy your purchase but be aware, you might not be buying the latest version which might sound worse when compared to samples from official dealers. Even though the product names are exactly the same. An older model might not perform to the heights of the latest model offered by the official dealers.
For the longer term? Tellurium Q needs to put a stop to this. It’s needs to do what phone and computer companies do. Every time there’s an update, it needs to at least change the model name, even a little bit. Like a change in app or operating system version.
So, if these new Blue II cables receive an update in the future then the company needs to call them the Blue 2.1 or the Blue II+ or some such but let’s stop this customer (and reviewer!) confusion. It’s not fair on the customer, it confuses my simple brain and it actually isn’t fair on Tellurium II either who lose out on the publicity and potential extra income.
Also, if I had known what was going on, it would have changed the content of my advice to dozens if not hundreds of hi-fi users out there who’ve asked me about recommended, low-cost speaker cables. You see? The lack of information has actually skewed buying habits.
OK, back to the plot then and the new Blue II cables which are available in the UK now. The cables will be out and about in the EU and rest of the world soon.
So how do these cables actually sound? Oh and I’ll refer to Blue I cables below but they will be late-model Blue I cables.
Playing Katie Melua’s new album, Album No.8 which features an orchestral backing, I was struck by the Blue II cable’s neutrality. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve heard a pair of speaker cables at this price point which are quite so neutral and – this is more important – tonally balanced as the Blue II designs.
In fact, that tonal balance response reminded me of the sonic effect I had when I reviewed the recently-released Audiolab 6000A amplifier. In fact, the two will work well together, methinks.
Bringing in the similarly priced QED 40i speaker cables as a contrast to the Blue IIs and a pair I’ve loved to bits and hold in great respect, even this design is not as balanced or neutral as the Blue IIs – and that’s saying something.
I found the 40i cables a little forward in the bass compared to the Blue I cables which more more accomplished within the upper frequencies. If anything, the Blue II cables took the best features from both the QEDs and the Blue Is.
I found bass to be better integrated into the mix in the Blue IIs. That aspect helped to promote more midrange detail. Because the Blue II cables added some extra discipline to the lower frequencies, I found that the clarity and transparency of the overall presentation shot through the roof.
That and the lower noise. The Blue II cables were very low in high-frequency noise terms which meant that the soundstage was very spacious indeed. This open aspect gave the II cables a supremely open aspect that allowed the mids to flow in an easy and deliciously frictionless manner.
To do all of this at such a low price point is startling, I have to say and something that I thought QED did very well indeed. Well, these Tellurium Q Blue IIs have taken that to another level.
As for the Melua vocal? That provided a host of space around the delivery. This was a point I noted when reviewing the QED 40i cables. The Blue Is expanded that space around the vocal delivery but the IIs extended the reverb tails further while adding weight and confidence to the vocal and a frequency balance that provided a sense of realism to the delivery.
I then moved to CD and something more dynamic so played Happy House from the Siouxsie and the Banshees LP, Kaleidoscope (1980)
I found bass to be lean, agile and punchy via the Blue Is but upper frequency insight was top notch, the QEDs were more exciting in rock terms but again, the Blue IIs offered a best of both worlds. Bass never bled into the midrange area and never masked any of the fine detail from the vocal, cymbals or lead guitar.
On the track Tenant, I was impressed with the amount of space in between the instruments via the Blue IIs plus between the latter and the vocal. There was a fresh, open, clean presentation from the mids here with enough bass punch to provide a firm foundation which never masked the rather delicate acoustic guitar strums but still allowed the bass guitar to provide threat and portent via its low grumblings.
There was a lot going on throughout this track and I felt that the II cables were able to track everything thrown at it with aplomb. I never had the feeling that the cables were struggling and reducing fine detail into a mussy mush. The IIs always had command of the situation.
In short, the new Blue II cables are worthy successors to the originals which, if you can find them at a bargain figure, are still worthy of attention. They’ll need to be of a sufficiently low price though, the II cables offer great value as it is.
I was and remain bowled over by both the improvements in performance of the Tellurium Q Blue II cables when compared to the original models and how the Blue IIs battle it out with their immediate competition.
On both terms, they do brilliantly well and raise the bar in overall performance terms. If you’re looking for a pair of low-cost speaker cables then look no further than these Blue II examples from Tellurium Q. They provide tremendous value and will get the very best sound out of your hi-fi system.
TELLURIUM Q BLUE II SPEAKER CABLES
PRICE: will vary depending on length and termination type but a typical 3m pairing with banana plugs will cost around £111.
GOOD: low noise, midrange clarity, price, bass weight, tonal balance, realism
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Pro-Ject RPM 3 turntable
Tellurium Q cabling