Looking to upgrade your budget speaker cables? Paul Rigby reviews a possible contender, the latest version of the Ultra Blue IIs
Tellurium Q has a range of speakers cables out and about, nowadays and all colour-coded and tweaked.
As ever with the company, they keep tight lipped in terms of technical details but that’s ok. It’s the sound quality I’m really interested in, to be honest.
These Ultra Blue II speaker cables sit just above the Blue II cables but just underneath the Black II designs in the company’s expanding speaker cable range.
That’s reflected in terms of price, of course. If, indeed, you have a lower-priced suite of cables, let’s say you have something between £0 and £100, then the Ultra Blue II designs are an obvious possibility for those looking to upgrade.
Should you? Let’s find out.
I began the sound tests with Ennio Morricone’s orchestral soundtrack on the Cinevox, Metti, One Sera a Cena.
I wanted to hear just what you’re paying for here. The difference from a budget-level design to the next rung up the ladder should be a noticeable one so I drafted in my QED 40i speaker cables which can be had for around £90 or so for three meters from Amazon. So, roughly half the price of the Ultra Blue II designs then.
Of course, the Ultra Blue II cables should be superior but were they and, if so, by how much? The QEDs offer great value for the price.
Comparing the two was instructive. What I heard from the Ultra Blue II cables that I didn’t get from the QEDs was a sense of maturity. A rich palette of tones. A depth of detail.
What really got me here was a sonic element that you tend not to really notice on this track. That is, what struck first was something I normally couldn’t hear too much from he QEDs. That was bass.
This is an orchestral track, not hard-core techno. Bass is a supporting player and not the star of the show. Yet it’s critical to the entire show because it provides a bedrock that the mids and treble lay upon. Done well, bass on this track thickens the sound. Like a good gravy.
So while bass never dominated via the Ultra Blue IIs, what it did was add extra bulk and a rich layer that swelled underneath the music. This added a sense of body to the music as a whole. A body that was largely absent from the QEDs. Perfectly understandable because of the QED’s price point. This is the sort of thing you’re paying here. You’re paying for the right to use the Ultra Blue II cables.
What the Ultra Blue IIs do is, in many ways, what the Audiolab 6000A does for amplifiers. Adding bass to balance and the sound, integrating bass neatly into the music while never allowing it to dominant or become an independent force. Bass adds a ‘sense’ of power here.
The mids and treble also felt richer here. The amount of new detail though was the most significant aspect of their presentation. The guitar strums added new detail. Again, there was a rich depth here. An insight to the resonance created by the guitar body. A sense that this instrument was more than a set of strings, there was wood and metal around them.
I was also interested to hear the control in the upper mids and treble. Both the triangle and guitar during high-note plucks verged on the edgy via the QEDs but the Ultra Blue IIs added width and depth to these areas which meant that any edgy feeling receded, reducing listening fatigue. Dynamic reach also appeared to be extended, something that was noticeable during the ride cymbal sequence.
Vocals were infused with emotion. The wordless lead vocal exhibited little vocal catches that hinted at unspoken sensations. The Ultra Blue II cable’s focus and precision helped to reveal this area.
I then plugged in a pair of similarly-priced cables, the Python IIs from TCI and continued listening to the Ennio Morricone LP.
What the Ultra Blue II cables did here was to open up the midrange offering a massive amount of new detail into the soundstage. Remember that bit at the beginning of Sound of Music? Julie Andrews twirling around like the good’un on top of that mountain and even managing not to get dizzy and fall over? That sense of uplift and joy? That’s what the Ultra Blue II cables give you. They are full of air and space. Full of emotion in the upper areas of the soundstage. There is a real sparkle from these cables that drags you deep into the music itself. That is, the music tends to connect with you very easily from the Ultra Blue II cables.
Bass too manages to separate itself from the rest of the frequencies. It never becomes dull or lacking in form. The Ultra Blue II cables give bass a sense of solidity but they also push that frequency away from the mids and treble. It never gets too close so there is a sense that ok, there’s the drums. Then there’s a space. Then there’s a guitar. That doesn’t always happen in cabling. Especially at this price where bass can become an amorphous blob, stuck to the mids like Blu-tack and just as sticky.
So do the Ultra Blue II cables provide value at this price point? Absolutely, yes.
But why buy the new Ultra Blue II cables when you might be able to get a good deal on a pack of second-hand Ultra Blue I cables? Wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds? Well look, if you can get yourself a good deal on a pair of Ultra Blue I cables then sure, go for it. They are fine cables.
In fact, I brought in a pair and did an A-B. A face off between the Ultra Blue I and Ultra Blue II cables, just to see what the comparison offered.
I thought the originals provided an equally impressive bass. Great support, excellent separation from the rest of the soundstage. A sense of strength and solidity and a fine momentum during the musical sequences that kept uptake pace.
What the Ultra Blue I cables couldn’t handle though was the dynamic range. The new Ultra Blue II cables seem move use on further, extracting impressive amounts of newly found information. That is, where the Ultra Blue I cables topped in terms of detail extraction, the Ultra Blue II cables kept going. Again, the Ultra Blue II had that inherent sparkle in its delivery. An extra zip and flourish. Greater finesse, if you like.
That was down to the newly found detail that added character to the brass section body to the bank of strings and a rich nature to the backing harmonies. Frankly I just enjoyed listening to the Ultra Blue II cables more than the Ultra Blue I cables. Simple as that, really.
I then flipped to rock and a CD version of Thin Lizzy’s We Will Be Strong from the LP, Chinatown. What really hit me here – amongst the raucous noise – was the detail from the steaming acoustic guitar. It was never drowned by the thumping percussion, strong bass guitar or wailing lead guitar (a Snowy White presentation, on this LP). The acoustic was almost delicate. Fragile even. Yet the acoustic guitar was wholly present. Never masked, its detail was on show for all to hear.
Around this particular highlight, the Phil Lynott vocal was infused with silky portent. Full of threat that ran alongside his trademark precision. He knew how to hit the letter ’t’ at the end of a lyric sentence, for example, and these cables where right there because of their inherent precision and focus. So the lead vocal never felt fuzzy or muffled, it was right on point.
Despite their technical prowess, these cables also know how to party. This rocking LP demands body movement and the Ultra Blue II cables certainly encourage the odd hip flick and head nod.
So I partook in a smidgeon of that. Within reason that is. Nothing too flamboyant. I am English after all <lifts chin towards the sun>.
It’s all very well spending lots of cash on hi-fi boxes but that doesn’t always produce better sound. Sometimes the outlay does enhance the sound but not nearly by much or in the right areas. The support components allow the main components to fly. If they are not good enough though, they will drag your hi-fi back.
There’s nothing to worry about here with the Telurium Q Ultra Blue II cables. They not only give you a solid sonic upgrade from sub-£100 cables but they perform wonderfully in its own price point and show the original Ultra Blue I model a clean pair of heels, for example.
Frankly, if you’re ready to take the plunge and move up from your sub-£100 speaker cables to around £200 then the Ultra Blue II cables should be first on your demo list. They are, in a word, superb.
TELLURIUM Q ULTRA BLUE II SPEAKER CABLES
Price: £198 for 3m
Tel: 01458 251997
GOOD: open and airy mids, strong organic bass, treble finesse, broad soundstage, low noise
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Richard Pike24th July 2021 at 11:41 am
Hi Paul, There are many who are sceptical about subjective tests of cables ,amps etc as everyone’s hearing Is different and of course age of the listener comes into play as well. To counter this Is there a way to test various cables ( level matching is an important factor) to see whether the signal inputted is the same as the output signal from a cable? Ideally you don’t want cables distorting ( colouring) the original sound as if someone has a sonic preference wouldn’t a graphic equaliser be a better option as it may need to be adjusted for different recordings.
Paul Rigby24th July 2021 at 12:07 pm
Hi Richard – to me, the very subjective nature of sound in terms of one’s hearing that you mention, is the very point of this site and my core philosophy towards the entire hobby. It’s why I recommend listening before you buy. It’s why I dislike machine testing in reviews, why tests based on the same are always suspect, never tell you the whole story and are irrelevant to you as an individual and why I note that my reviews/advice can only ever be a guide. Part of a larger portfolio of your research (at least I hope so). No more than that. So no. In a word, no. So don’t “counter” it. Embrace it. HiFi and music itself is a subjective topic. Not objective. It’s emotional. Not logical. That’s my view. That’s my stand point and that’s what you get from me and my scribblings. 🙂
Dermot24th July 2021 at 3:16 pm
Your reply to Richard above is spot on. I too tried to do some ‘countering’ with an equaliser, albeit a properly designed transparent type. While it worked extremely well I felt after a while that it just killed the whole subjective Magic of listening to music. So I removed it from the system. Needless to say the emotional Magic returned. It’s something you just cannot explain in logical terms to anyone musically inclined. So I embraced it and kept my mouth shut until now. Thank God there are people like you out there who understand. I’m not crazy after all 😱
Now to my response to your wonderful review:
I currently use a pair of Titan Audio Styx’s in my valve/tt/vintage transmission speaker system. Upgraded from Atlas Hyper 2.5’s which I still use in my other system. Would upgrading to the Ultra Blue II only be a sideways step? Also the company’s statement below has me slightly worried as I would consider my system as slightly on the ‘warm’ side. To me your review says otherwise. Please enlighten me 😊
“Warm and forgiving for systems with a slight edge or for those who like a more smooth laid back presentation. Blue and Ultra Blue are especially good for AV and home cinema.”
Paul Rigby26th July 2021 at 1:46 pm
Thanks Dermot 🙂 As for the cables, the Titans are excellent for the cash. I’d look at the TQ Black II cables for a worthwhile upgrade I reckon: https://theaudiophileman.com/black-ii/
And ignore what Tellurium Q say about those cables. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They only made them 🙂
Dermot2nd August 2021 at 12:39 pm
Thanks Paul! Appreciate your advice and humour 😊
Alex.25th July 2021 at 7:55 pm
Hi Paul ,
I’m one of those who bought the Tellurium Ultra Blues for €100, – on eBay and I do not regret it at all. Of course, a comparison between the old Ultra Blue and the second generation would be interessting, but where does one stop grading up, especially beginners?!
What in five years time, when the Ultra Blue III hit the market and outperform the “old” two’s?
Nikos18th September 2021 at 9:27 pm
There are no too many reviews available about ultra blue ii and due to your English “nature” 🙂 I waa a little bit sceptical at the beginning. Although, the way you ‘ve presented this cable-product was one of the reasons to exceed my budget and buy it. Everything you’ve described is true. This cable is outstanding for my budget System (rega brio, dali spektor 2). I’m convinced now that a good cable is without doubt an important chain in a hifi, and ultra ii is a really good cable! Thanks and greetings from Greece!
Paul Rigby19th September 2021 at 12:49 pm
Ahh, that ‘English nature’ of mine will be the death of me, Nikos 🙂 Many thanks for your feedback, much appreciated. Beautiful country too.
Robbert26th October 2022 at 9:16 am
I am looking at a good cable for My tannoy xt8f. Fine speakers but can also a little bright and i play symphonic metal, not the best recordings. Looking at a cable that is forgiven for bad recordings and don’t accentueted the highs. Tellurium q blue good or van den hul d352?
Paul Rigby26th October 2022 at 1:20 pm
What’s your budget, Robbert?
Robbert26th October 2022 at 2:06 pm
50 and i need 2 x 2 metres also 200, max 250.
Also looking at a new streamer. I have now a old Pioneer. Cambridge cxnv2, or too bright for my music?, or bluesound node? Node not so good soundquality but more forgiven?
Paul Rigby26th October 2022 at 3:29 pm
Sorry, you’ve lost me Robbert. To recap, you’re looking for speaker cables at what 2m in length? Your budget is what exactly? And what currency?
Robbert26th October 2022 at 3:37 pm
Budget max 250,– for 4 metres ( 2 x2). Current speakercable audioquest flx but find it a little on the bright side
Paul Rigby27th October 2022 at 9:40 am
Hi Robbert – just to repeat my last post, what currency are you using?
Robbert27th October 2022 at 9:53 am
Price in Euro’s. I am living in the Netherlands
Paul Rigby28th October 2022 at 11:20 am
Hi Robbert – well these speakers are excellent and I highly recommend them. Alternartives? I would also consider QED’s Revelation or Chord’s Epic-X.
Robbert28th October 2022 at 12:11 pm
Thanks for your answer. Yes i find the Tannoy xt8f very good, but also matching is very imortant. Now i have a MF M5si amp. it’s very good, but maybe in the future a valve pre amp with poweramp. I came with the Tellurium q blue II because i read elewhere that with rock with these cables it sounds the best. Full, warmer and no sharp highes. But the chord epic x seems also interested. No fan of qed, because i always found this brand on the bright side. But i saw there is also the Tellurium q ultra blue. Do you know these cable?
Paul Rigby28th October 2022 at 12:15 pm
Hi Robbert – no problem and you mean the Ultra Blue cables that…I review here? 🙂
Robbert28th October 2022 at 12:34 pm
Yes. The Ultra blue cost here 190,– euro for 2 x 2 metres. The blue II 120,– euro. Which is the best buy?
Paul Rigby28th October 2022 at 2:03 pm
Given the choice? The Ultra.
Robbert28th October 2022 at 3:15 pm
I have made my choice for the Ultra Blue. And the dealer give me 5% discount.
Thanks for your advice. I think it is a good cable for me with my speakers and music.
Paul Rigby28th October 2022 at 4:32 pm
I’m sure you’ll love, Robbert it and well done on the discount.
Ian10th November 2022 at 9:04 am
Hi Paul, this is interesting and timely for myself. I’m using QED revelation and have recently put a £1300 DAC in my system. The top and middle are superb but it’s now lacking in the bottom end. The TQ Ultra Blue 2 meet my my budget but I’m not sure if this would be a decent upgrade. Would I be better waiting then going for the TQ black 2’s or Chord Odyssey X. I have Harbeth P3 speakers and understand the limits of their dimensions.
Paul Rigby10th November 2022 at 9:46 am
Hi Ian – I’m inferring here so apologies if I’m on the wrong track but…please don’t see cables as a tone controls, a means of repairing or enhancing deficient parts of the sonic envelope. I always recommend correcting the source issue, the component itself first. Cables are really there to enhance what you’ve got. Cables are like roads, they are there to transport a sonic signal in one piece. Just about every cable on the market fails to do that. The cables that fail least, get an award from me. Some cables integrate thoughtful design to help the signal to get from A-B (like adding new tarmac on that road, say) and for that, you tend to pay a lot more. They make the sonic signal’s journey more efficient and smoother and help more information to get to ‘B’ without further damage. So yes, the TQ and Chord cables you mention fulfil the latter and are worth the attention if you have the budget. The Blue IIs, even so, are superb for the price and will help to reveal more of what you already have within your HiFi.
Ian10th November 2022 at 9:59 am
Thank you Paul, I really appreciate your extremely prompt reply. More food for thought!
Skot Smith6th December 2022 at 2:50 pm
Given a choice between Blue II and Ultra Blue for a pair of Bowers&Wilkins CDM 1NT which would you recommend? Is the Ultra worth the extra money? Would I notice? Also need to hook up the CDM CNT.. primary use is 60% movies, 40% two channel. Thanks!
Paul Rigby6th December 2022 at 3:31 pm
I’d go for Ultra, Skot – I would notice. Try and grab a home demo from your dealer to see if you feel the same.
Skot Smith6th December 2022 at 3:36 pm
Thanks for the quick reply Paul! I’m in the US and there’s one dealer (one!)… I’ll reach out them to see if I can get a demo for both. Next question- go for the jumpers or stick with the stock plates? Fine, I’ll see if I can demo those as well. 🙂
Paul Rigby6th December 2022 at 4:08 pm
No probs 🙂 For this budget, plates are fine.
Skot7th December 2022 at 12:10 am
Last question.. are OG Blacks better than Blue Ultra II? Realize so much is inter-dependent upon components.
Paul Rigby7th December 2022 at 11:41 am