An updated design from the original Ultra Blacks (but you guessed that already, eh?), Paul Rigby reviews these rather svelte speaker cables
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the technical side of these cables because…I don’t have any information in the first place. Tellurium Q are famous for keeping their mouths shut.
That said, in addition to my own references, I did manage to grab a set of the original Ultra Black speaker cables from the company to see exactly what, if any improvements had occurred.
Onwards an upwards then.
I began with a slice of prog and a reissue of Camel’s 1976 LP Moonmadness via Music on Vinyl reissued in 2013. I played the track, Aristillus followed by Song Within A Song.
The Ultra Black II cables hit home right from the off. Aristillus is largely an analogue synth track with a range of very high frequency notes played throughout. Instead of the focus around the stereo image that nailed the individual notes, the Ultra Black II cables retained a notable precision but opened up this stereo image. Adding a measure of height to the soundstage but more significantly, extending these high frequency notes to the left and right, adding body to the solo sequence and removing a touch of stridency that accompanied the somewhat narrow band replay.
The widening of the synth solo sequence offered a rich and deep presentation while a rhythmic beat around this area provided a deeper and more substantial effect. Adding a bit of weight here and there, the track moved along with more confidence.
On Song Within A Song, even the gently applied drum strikes sounded full and rounded with new-found weight within. The extra character from the percussion added a new sense of purpose. That is, the drum sequence seemed to mean more to the drummer and hence the the listener. Some cables can treat this part of the music too softly, so that the drummer doesn’t sound is if he really cares and is probably thinking of a pub visit right after the studio session. With the Ultra Black II cables, the sequence added a bit of force here, extra press there and so on. The drummer sounded as though he was more engaged and in the moment.
The same could be said of the cymbal strikes. The initial tap held greater threat which improved the reverb afterwards so that the cymbal strikes had a more effective zing to them.
Moving to jazz vocal and Ethel Ennis who sang in front of a jazz-tinged orchestra while singing He Loves Me on the CD version of This is Ethel Ennis (RCA).
Even on this relatively subtle and nuanced track, the Ultra Black IIs added a sense of the definite to the arrangement with brass ‘parps’ emerging with new vigour, cymbal taps were added with a sense of the considered, the upright bass was heavy with added heft and the Ennis vocal, despite its soft and cultured delivery, produced an appreciable weight and conviction.
None of this new grounding interfered with the upper frequencies or hampered the balance of the mix. Far from it. It enhanced the stability of the production, in fact.
More than that, the low noise and open nature of the soundstage allowed new upper frequency detail to emerge. Subtle upper midrange effects from the vocal betrayed levels of effort from the Ennis voice that gave her performance extra subtlety and emotion.
The bottom line for the new Ultra Black II cables is better value for money, especially when compared to the original designs. That is, the new designs give you more in terms of detail from the upper and lower frequencies but they also enhance and restructure how that detail is delivered to the ear, doing it from a airy and more spacious soundstage that adds new fullness and splendour to the presentation.
TELLURIUM Q ULTRA BLACK II
Price: £1,550 for 2.5m
Tel: 01458 251997
GOOD: balanced presentation, confident bass, spacious soundstage, detail
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