Somerset, United Kingdom is the home of Tellurium Q company that makes the Black Diamond speaker cables. Tellurium otherwise represents a chemical element with symbol Te and atomic number 52. Tellurium is far more common in the universe as a whole than it is on Earth. Its extreme rarity in the Earth's crust, comparable to that of platinum, is partly due to its high atomic number, but also due to its formation of a volatile hydride which caused the element to be lost to space as a gas during the hot nebular formation of the planet.
These facts are pretty amazing but we`re talking here about the Tellurium Q product which should be more easily found on this planet.
“Audio products designed to combat phase distortion” says on their website and this seems quite a bold statement although it says nothing about the degree of effectiveness of their “warfare”. The company itself is unusually secretive about their cable building approach which is understandable but it is also true that we, end users, do not necessarily have to know the ingredients of a product in order to appreciate its sonic qualities. Would knowing all the details make them perform better? Hardly and in a sense the less we know, the better we will be able to “judge” them - leaving prejudices aside. As the old saying goes: we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover...although this is exactly what we usually do.
Some bits and pieces...
“When Tellurium Q® was set up the focus was primarily on phase distortion and minimising this problem inherent in all cabling, whoever makes them and where ever and however they are made. The reason it is a problem is simple, all materials (not just cables) in the path of a signal will act as an electronic filter according to the definition in the box below, whether you want it to or not. This is undeniable.”
Phase is a very popular term nowadays, especially among audiophiles but how many of them really understand what does it mean? And how do you trace the phase distortion in a speaker cable? Two different speaker cables will have different frequency responses and hence phase but whether phase distortion is audible or not is still a subject of many debates:
More on Audibility of Phase Distortion, written by an ex NASA employee. Link here.
Generally speaking, loudspeaker cables are confronting potentially more problems than their line level “siblings”, mostly due to the demand for higher currents and if it`s relatively easy to make a wide-band line level cable (interconnect), with speaker cables this becomes much more difficult. But phase is just one aspect of audio reproduction; terms like group delay, impulse response, energy storage, etc, can all add up to confusion. Nevermind, let`s continue...
“Some time ago we had some pure silver connectors manufactured and like all our developments tested them in a double blind situation. These we put against silver plated connectors using various base metal mixes and various thicknesses of plating. The pure silver performed worse than a plated connector with a “certain” thickness of plating. It was sluggish and almost muffled by comparison.
The more you focus on the fact that you are working with an electronic filter, then the easier it becomes to craft a much more transparent and natural sounding cable engineering each part of the signal path to minimise distortion. But there is a huge downside to this as every little detail of the constituents used and construction has to be tested in multiple configurations….and of course listened to.
The cable construction becomes more complex, using multiple stranded conductors of slightly differing materials and various dielectric materials and geometries. We have to pay attention to every part of each of our processes, even using non-industry standard solder mixes that varied between cables. Raw ingredients for the construction are highly specified as are plating thicknesses, even down to specifying what chemicals should or should not be included in a plating bath.”
So, the cable construction becomes more complex, using multiple stranded conductors of slightly differing materials and various dielectric materials and geometries....
OK, we`re getting somewhere, the Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cable is a multistranded cable design - enough said.
...are simply marvelous! The Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables are impeccably built, stylish and very distinctive looking. Seeing them on the photos gave an impression of being a flat/foil type of cables but right now I`m not so sure anymore. They came fitted with excellent banana connectors using a specific mix of Tellurium Copper for the connectors (at least this is how I understood the whole thing).
Regardless, they look impressive and I was very excited to experience them at work.
The sound of Tellurium Q Black Diamond...
was magnificent to say the least! Want to put your system under harsh test? Try this one: The Kraken Quartet (2013):
This self-titled EP is a collection of the groups first set of original songs written and recorded in 2013. The album features a unique blend of rock, jazz, electronic music, and the avant garde. While all the members are classically trained percussionists, this collection of songs feels more at home in a bar than it does in a recital hall. The music is refreshingly original, the recording quality is top notch and the dynamic swings are huge so this album is warmly recommended to all music lovers and audiophiles.
Listen to the first track “Madlibs”, an exciting composition featuring some punchy drumming and percussion. The Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables` ability to retain drama and at the same time exhibit utmost transparency was demonstrated in a strikingly impressive manner. The xylophone sounds extended almost forever (so to speak) and were sharply projected on the virtual soundstage. It was exciting to “observe” (hear) tones forming in front of me with all the right natural colors/timbres and then slowly fading away. There was lots of air around the instruments and their separation was exemplary. The micro dynamic ability of the Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables was breathtakingly good and great micro dynamic responsiveness is the main reason why some systems sound incredibly vivid and lifelike. Without it, stereo systems just sound flat and boring and if “smooth” but flat and boring is anyone's idea of how music should sound then I guess, either music or “someone” - has missed the point.
Some delicate vocals...Youn Sun Nah - Same Girl (the title track). This album (Same Girl was recorded in 2010) was considered by many critics to be her best. Through the Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables her voice was spine-tingling, incredibly open and almost physically present. The accompanying percussion sounded unlimited in its high frequency extension and possessed a very natural, rich harmonic structure which sometimes can sound dry and muted on a number of speaker cables.
Despite what critics say, Lento (recorded in 2013) is my favorite Youn Sun Nah. Tracks like “Full Circle” and “Momento Magico” (who hasn`t heard it yet?) send a shiver up my spine, each time I listen to them. Despite the enormous amount of information that the Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables revealed, they also managed to fully retain the emotional content of the songs and forward it towards the listener. In no way the sound could be described as “technical” or “cold”, quite on the contrary; it possessed a healthy dose of natural warmth and excellent control of the fundamental lower midrange area which is responsible for subjective “weight”.
Verônica Ferriani is a great singer from Brazil and her first, self-entitled album (recorded in 2009) is full of simply beautiful music performed in a variety of modern Brazilian styles, not only Bossa Nova. With the help from Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables I was able to enjoy it immensely. The music is played and sung in a heartfelt manner and the reproduction was exciting and emotionally involving; the cables did not diminish anything in the mix and provided for a stress-less, exciting aural experience.
Guitarist Brad Shepik`s - Human Activity Suite (recorded in 2009) is a wonderful album coming out of the Jazz corner. AllAboutJazz wrote: “Deep-blue oceans, airbrushed clouds, flaking dabs of greens receding into desolate plains... Remember the first time you saw a picture of the Earth? Remember that feeling? Did you know one can cover the Earth with one's thumb when standing from the Moon? Defenseless in the pitch-black, still silence of the Universe, our home—at least, that of the time of a few nanoseconds stolen from eternity—now faces more threats from its own inhabitants than from other celestial bodies possibly hitting its trajectory around the Sun....
Whereas many of his predecessors romanticize the delivery of their message with New Age-y hogwash, the New York City-based ethnomusicologist/composer presents an imaginative travelogue-type program that is as moving melodically and harmonically as it is sonically.”
Yes, these words give us much food for thought and the music found on this album shows what divine treasures could be found under the clouds of this beautiful but endangered planet - there`s no other way I could point this out.
Judging by the aural experience, the Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables revealed themselves as audio jewels as well, working in unison with the music and never against it. The pulsating bass of drums and bass were reproduced with heft and real power but always maintaining control over its whole spectrum. The various instruments` intense interplay was characterized by excellent separation of each individual instrument and exhibited a great rhythmic drive.
The soundstage size was enormous when called for but the instruments` relative sizes were always held in proper proportions and the image focus was truly holographic in its appearance. The Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables possessed a reference grade resolution across the whole spectrum but on the other hand they never sounded bright or bleached; the tonal colors were consistently portrayed realistically - just following what was on the recording. On the whole their sound could be described as totally transparent, extremely coherent, colorful and dynamically unrestricted. Whether all this is due to the “phase distortion combat techniques” or something else, I am not sure but the fact remains these cables are indeed something special.
The Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables represent a fantastic loudspeaker cabling alternative that can only be applauded for the performance levels it exhibits. From the lowest bass, up to the highest treble, it showed staggering performance levels not only in “technical terms” but also in its ability to draw the listener into the musical performance and evoke deep emotions.