My last Tellurium Q review was back in August of this year, when I reported the results of my listening tests with the Mk II version of Tellurium Q’s Black RCA interconnects. Three months on and the latest Mk II version of a Black series cable has arrived, this time in the guise of a UK mains lead. It was accompanied by an original Black series version, which has given me the opportunity to contrast and compare and to see whether Geoff Merrigan, Tellurium Q’s chief designer, has managed another of his conjuring tricks.
Comparing the two cables visually the main and most obvious difference is that the outer sheath on the Mk II is a shade lighter and more transparent. The hardware at either end is similar high quality Furutech, which is always a safe choice. Visually then, there is only a cosmetic difference between the two versions. Under the skin though, it is a very different story. As explained to me by Mr. Merrigan, almost everything inside has been changed. A new dielectric and revised geometry for the copper conductors have been introduced, aimed at significantly reducing electromagnetic interference (EMI) which can degrade the sound, and to lower the capacitance of the cable. This latter will allow more of the current to pass from the socket to the receiving component, such as an amplifier, allowing the latter to perform more as its designer intended.
But enough of the theory. As with anything in audio, only our ears can tell us whether a component is improving our listening experience, and I was keen to hear what has been achieved with the introduction of the new version of the already well-respected Black mains cable.
I started the listening tests by inserting the chunky Furutech plug on the original Black into the four-way wall plate which brings power to my TV and audio systems. The matching IEC socket was firmly inserted into my Lyngdorf TDAI 3400 integrated amplifier/streamer. The rest of the system comprised my modified Linn Sondek LP12, the Vertere Phono 1 phono stage, my Yamaha CD-S3000 SACD/CD player and my favoured loudspeakers, the Harbeth C7ES XDs atop the HiFi Racks Fortis stands.
I started by streaming some HD music from Qobuz. I listened to the deluxe versions of the Beatles Let It Be and the Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You. Both sounded pretty good and showed that there is still much to be gained by the thoughtful remastering of classic albums such as these. In both cases the deluxe editions also carry a wealth of new material, much of it a fascinating insight into the creative process of both these veteran bands. Through the Mk I cable, the amplifier did a creditable job and I could find nothing to fault. I then switched cables and moved the Mk II into position, resumed my listening seat and played the same two albums again, but in reverse. As the opening riff of ‘Start Me Up’, the first track on Tattoo You, rang out I leaned forward in my chair; something was definitely different. As the song developed it all felt more immediate, there was definitely a greater sense of realism and the soundstage seemed to grow in height, width and depth. There was additional clarity to the sound, with each musician’s contribution being easier to follow, while the overall coherence of the sound seemed better. I know that sounds slightly contradictory, but I can only report what I experienced.
If you are familiar with Tattoo You, you will know that the final track on side 2 is ‘Waiting On A Friend’, which features two beautiful saxophone solos by Sonny Rollins. As heard through the system powered by the Black Mk II mains cable, the music gave me goosebumps. I had enjoyed it the first time around but this time it was much more emotionally involving. In fact it was so involving that I simply sat through the whole three sand half hours of the Deluxe edition, absolutely engrossed in the music. The last section is an expanded version of the Still Life live album, recorded at Wembley in 1982, and it sounded absolutely terrific.
After that I played music through my other sources and, unsurprisingly, both silver disc and vinyl replay reflected the added transparency that the MK II mains cable had brought to the party. I switched the original version cable back in a couple of times but not for long, once I had heard what the Mk II was doing (or perhaps not doing), there really was no going back.
A friend of ours came to stay last weekend and asked me what I have in for review at the moment. When I said a mains cable he looked a rather puzzled and gave the classic response which I shall paraphrase for our family audience: Seriously? Surely electricity’s just electricity? Well the answer to that of course is yes and no. You might ask someone with a performance car why they bother to fill it with super unleaded, surely petrol is petrol. As an audiophile, you probably spent a long time choosing your amplifier, and when you did, the manufacturer had almost certainly included an IEC mains lead in the box, and that was certainly enough to get you started. However, to allow your expensive new device to give its very best, you need to feed it the finest fuel. The new Tellurium Q Black Mk II represents the best that I have heard from any mains cable that retails for under £1,000. Yes, it is still a very significant investment, and if possible you should try it with your amplifier before parting with your hard-earned cash. However, once you have heard it I think you will know very quickly that you cannot go back to whatever was there before, and you will be really hearing what your system can achieve. Abracadabra indeed.