I visit Tellurium Q for a Statement Experience PART II
I travelled to Taunton in the South West of the UK to visit Tellurium Q. This is only my second time in Taunton and my first visit to the Tellurium Q listening room. It was back in July 2018 when the roles were reversed, and Geoff Merrigan Tellurium Q Managing Director visited the Pursuit Perfect System listening room armed with a huge box of cables to demo to me. On that day I listened to full cable looms of Tellurium Q Black II, Ultra Black, Black Diamond, Silver Diamond and also the brand new Statement cables. I will always remember this day, it was a very hot day for the UK and I spent most of it with my bum up in the air reaching over to change the cables from a Luxman Pre power setup to my reference speakers at the time, the KEF Reference 3
I found this day extremely interesting as I was able to change and listen to whatever cables I wanted, all on one day with a system and room I know very well which of course helps so much. I remember hearing better and better sound quality still as we moved up from Black II to the Silver Diamond with the biggest improvement to come last with the Statement cables. I remember remarking at the time the Statement made my system sound as good as I always thought it should and hoped that it would. I made a video about the visit you can see here and an interview video with Geoff Merrigan you can see here.
I was fortunate to spend about the next 18 months with Tellurium Q Black Diamond and Silver Diamond cables in my review HiFi system so got to know them very well. Finally in January 2020 it was my turn to review the Statement cables and I was very excited to have them back in my system. It was during this period I created the phrase the “Statement effect” with my intended meaning being, as mentioned before its when your system sounds as good as you always thought it should and hoped it would and jokingly at the end of my video review here I made a comment that someone should try and take the Statement cables from me if they dared. My cheekiness worked as they have been in my review system ever since and they have been invaluable to me for allowing me to hear more clearly what is going on with the products I am reviewing but they also make my job much better because I enjoy what I am listening to that much more each and every listening session.
I will admit I was shocked by the announcement in January of this year 2023 that Tellurium Q had released a Statement II, a new and improved nearly full range of cables. My first thought was how can they possibly have improved on the Statement but I was also naturally intrigued to know more and experience them for myself.
Speaking to Geoff at the end of March we agreed that another testing day would be a good idea, but this time I offered to do the very long drive West and back as I felt it was my turn. I stayed overnight locally and enjoyed a great meal in the White Hart pub and I was ready and raring to go the next day.
Tellurium Q have several facilities for manufacturing and testing and I was to spend the day with a very nice system including the Vimberg Mino speakers, an Innuos Zenith MK3 music server, T+A DAC and integrated amplifier. Quite a simple system in terms of box count but a very nice one all the same. I liked the bottom shelf of the HiFi Racks Podium Reference being for awards and trophies, I thought it was a nice touch.
Its always challenging to listen to a system for the first time and fully take it all in but I found myself settling very quickly into the Vimberg T+A systems sound. It felt very familiar to me. I would describe the systems sound as quite modern in its overall presentation and very clear. The listening room was not huge which of course has some effect but it was treated with many panels from GIK Acoustics. In fact the room is not too dissimilar in size to my room so maybe this combined with the GIK treatments is why it felt so familiar to me so quickly.
The goal of the session was not to be exhaustive for testing, it was just for me to be able to listen to the difference between the Statement and Statement II cables and the system being quite simple meant there was only 1 set of balanced analogue interconnects and the speaker cables needed, so not a lot to change and listen between.
We started with the original Statement cables in the system, Geoff played a Norah Jones song Don’t miss you at all from the Feels like home album, it’s a relatively simple track of just vocals and piano. Next the balanced cables were changed to Statement II and I noticed more fullness and tone to the vocal and piano, more pleasing dynamic bloom to the music. Then the Statement II speaker cables were changed in and the sound stage opened up, especially for the piano, it sounded grander and more like a real sized instrument. This was quite a large difference and not what I was expecting. Then to confirm I wasn’t just hearing things I asked for the original Statement cables to be put back in and the sound I first heard was back, the piano was less grand and solid with slightly less spatiality to the music and the vocal sounded less full in tone. Geoff commented the system sounded more natural with the Statement II cables in the system which is possibly a good description, I hear things more broken down than this and heard it as I have explained here.
Not enough for me
This demo was satisfying enough for me to be happy the Statement II could offer more but I wanted to create a better context for the demo so asked if we could listen to some other cables too. Geoff installed some Ultra Black II this time using singled ended RCA cables in place of the balanced XLR cables. We used the exact same Norah Jones track but the system volume needed to be increased slightly to sound about the same perceived volume as before which seemed normal to me going from balanced to single ended. I have to say it was not a big disappointment stepping down to the Ultra Black II cables, they sounded great actually and I could have happily kept listening to them.
Followed we replaced the Ultra Black II with the original statement, this time using single ended RCA cables to keep the test fair and yes of course I could hear the “Statement effect”, it made the system sound bigger more impressive from a spatial sound stage point of view with even more tonal quality to the vocals and piano so a very nice improvement that was easy to hear.
Lastly we replaced the Statement with the Statement II again using single ended RCA cables keeping everything the same. This time the Statement to Statement II difference was not quite the same as before, for me the Statement II sounded clearer and cleaner in the vocal, with better transients details and information to the piano. The size and scale and tonality seemed very similar to me.
The end but not the end
This was enough for me to want to experiment more so Geoff kindly boxed up the balanced analogue and speaker Statement II cables for me to bring home to do some comparison listening for myself in my own system. He also boxed up two Statement II BNC digital cables for me to try between the Chord Hugo M Scaler and TT 2 DAC and these I am really very excited to try. My plan is to spend some time with the Statement II cables in my system and to write a more detailed comparison review with my Statement cables so look out for that coming in the future.
A very nice bonus
Geoff had also invited music producer Simon Lomax along for the demo day, Simon writes and produces his own Ambient style of music and he has released many albums since 2004. He also works with other artists to produce differing styles of music such as Trance. My last hour or two of the day was spent listening to Simons music played back through the Vimberg, T+A, Statement II system and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music is superbly produced and I found it fascinating speaking to Simon about how he creates and records his samples and how he uses techniques to make the music sound three dimensional and free of the speakers.
Simon is involved in the testing stages of Tellurium Q cables development and he has recently changed his Statement cables to Statement II for his production mixing and mastering system that features Bowers & Wilkins N802 speakers. If your interested in trying his music its available on the all the main streaming services, on Bandcamp and also from his website https://simonlomax.com
Some questions I asked Geoff
– Question 1: Why did you feel there was even a need to look to improve on the original Statement cables and where did the inspiration come from to make improvements ?
The best I can do is say, “curiosity”. It sounds like a stuck record as I have said this both for the Silver Diamond and Statement I cables and now again for Statement II, but I really did not think we could improve on the cables. It really is a balancing act, you might improve one part of the sonic profile but another suffers, then when you have sorted that another area is “off”. It is a game of whack-a-mole with the R&D, trying to balance out lots of different factors and to do that you are led to using some unexpected material choices and mixes etc. We cannot do this for all cables which is why some sets will have a version I others a version II. Sometimes an upgrade is possible and sometimes the original is just better, hence the Statement power cable remaining as is in this set.
– Question 2: Which of the original Statement cables was the hardest to improve on to achieve a Statement II level of sound quality ?
We always try to start with the Speaker cable because we base the group profile of all of the other cables in this range from this, as best we can. However, that took much longer than the interconnects because it had a special level of difficulty, sourcing the materials we wanted to try and mix. They came from three different countries and had to be mixed in the UK. This process alone took approximately 12 months, and we got it wrong more than once before finding a way to make it work in any meaningful way. The requirements and issues for interconnects versus speaker cables in a system are very different and so are different technological challenges.
– Question 3: Which of the Statement II cables are you most proud of for the amount of improvement that has been made ?
I am never proud of any final product, I am relieved. No matter how good the development is.
Not to over-dramatize, but it is nerve wracking to try to beat something that is so highly thought of and then send it out into the world for it to be compared to what has gone before. Even though I know it is undeniably better, otherwise it would not be released, but that does not take away the stress because you are only as good as your last offering.
As customer feedback comes in that is when I really begin to be happy about what we have produced.
– Question 4: If an audiophile already owns Statement cables would it be advised for them to upgrade some to Statement II gradually if that is what their budget dictates and are there any combinations of Statement with Statement II that might not be advised for any reason ?
Difficult one, you haven’t yet heard the digital versions. Start anywhere, perhaps the Statement XLR II like you have heard but really, start anywhere, the effect builds as you add the sum of the parts.