Tellurium Q Silver Diamond SPDIF Digital Cable Review
A Leap of Faith
I have had the Tellurium Q Silver Diamond SPDIF Digital Cable in a BNC variety in my reference review system for several months and its been an interesting addition to the system. Unlike a lot of the products I have reviewed I purchased the cable before the review and without listening to it first. Following the video review series I made for Tellurium Q Black II speaker cables and Black Diamond Speaker cables I was beginning to appreciate what the Tellurium Q’s cabls do to an audio system.
After several long chats with Tellurium Q Managing Director Geoff Merrigan he felt the family sound of the Silver Range would suit my listening tastes and system. With more and more audiophiles owning products with integrated DACs or using streaming products that feed USB into a DAC the SPDIF digital cable looks in danger of being lost to the fates of time. Not if you own a Chord Electronics DAC it won’t and if you do pay attention to this review.
The Silver Diamond Standard
If you are new to Tellurium Q cables the company has three families Blue, Silver and Black with their new Statement range being a class all on its own. These families are built into a matrix to help audiophiles understand the full range and choose the right product for their system, sound preference and budget naturally.
If you love the sound of the cables in one of the ranges you can confidently move up the range safe in the knowledge the sound balance will remain and you will get a better version of that sonic signature. The Silver Diamond Range sits at the top of the Silver family and is actually is the highest performing SPDIF cable the company currently makes. Audiophiles who prefer the sound of the black family have Black Diamond at the top of the Black range, the Blue range also has a Blue Diamond hence the families and product matrix.
It is possible and sometimes advisable to have a mixture of cables in the system, it is advised to mix Black with Silver, Black with Blue but not Silver with Blue.
Not like other High End Cables
Tellurium Q cable designs put performance before all other factors, they do not add “jewellery” to try and make them look fancy. They also do not tell you anything about the cable designs, construction and materials used. This is fine except when it comes to review time you are left with little to say in describing the product. What I can say is the cable I bought is 1.5 metre long, with a black outer sheathing, BNC connectors at both ends and a white label stating the cable branding and the direction to use it in. Far more interesting is the thickness of the cable, one might expect a leviathan sized cable when you look at other high end hifi cables on the market. Not with the the Silver Diamond SPDIF, its thin by compare of its peers, in reality it’s about a normal size.
Tellurium Q have made a real effort with the quality of their packaging and it shows. The boxes for their higher end products are clever in their visual design, make a lovely first impression and start the buyer off in a very good place. That is a good thing because from there the buyer will need some patience.
Took a long time to get going
I installed the Silver Diamond SPDIF cable replacing a Nordost Blue Heaven on loan from Nintronics dealership. I had been extremely impressed with the Nordost cable it seemed to be doing everything right and nothing wrong. My initial impressions after replacing it with the Tellurium Q Silver Diamond was of more, much more in fact. My review system’s musical performance had more energy, more life, more drive and I think most impressively more expression. The Nordost sounded a little flat by compare when I returned to it for a quick comparison.
It was a very positive start but not everything was perfect, there was something not quite right about the overall system sound despite a lot of things being better. I decided put some hours on the cable and made a long playlist of the Tellurium Q Main Burn in Track from their System Setup Disc . I am very mindful this is a digital cable and any music would have done but it made sense to me to use the track designed for the job none the less. Digital cables are easy to put hours on, leave music playing with the amplifier off and just walk away and leave it.
48 hours later I was back in front of the system doing a listening session as part of a review for the Furutech NCF Booster products and I noticed a nice improvement, the sound was more balanced and more in line with my expectations, I felt quite happy at this stage. Following that listening session my review system was off for a few days while I was creating video content and doing other work. Come the next listening session I was expecting big things and was full of excitement but it didn’t happen, the sound of system seemed off, like I something was wrong. I tried to work out what it could be and I couldn’t find any cause. I am fully aware that Tellurium Q cables can take a long time to sound their best, maybe I had jumped in too soon and 48 hours wasn’t enough. I set the Tellurium Q Burn in Track to play continuously in a playlist again, this time I included track 3 on the system setup disc. Track 3 is called a Rapid Yoga System wake up and is designed to be used on the Silver Diamond Cables. It couldn’t hurt to run this a few times over the next 36 or so hours.
A Key Link in the Chain
The Silver Diamond SPDIF Cable is a key and critical link in my reference review system, it feeds the very sensitive DAC from my music server via a studio grade clock the Mutec MC3+USB to the DAC. I have used it with the Chord Electronics QUTEST and DAVE DAC. I chose to use BNC because it suits the Chord DACS better, they have a lot of BNC inputs. A second reason I chose this cable could be an old audiophile’s wives tale but it’s something I have picked up or read somewhere on a forum that has stuck. I have always been under the impression an RCA connector is not a true 75ohm connection, even the best RCA connectors don’t meet the standard. In contrast a BNC connection is a true 75ohm connection, a quick Google search seems to bring up evidence to support the theory.
Merits proved, here to stay
Many hours of Tellurium Q Burn In Track later the Silver Diamond SPDIF cable started to really show me its true colours, acting as a wide open link between what comes before and after it. This made perfect sense as to why I was initially getting more expression, energy and emotion to the music when I installed it, it was acting as less of a filter to the original signal.
It is sometimes hard to fully know how good something is within an audio system until the products around it improve and we hear more of what its capable of, I am sure all audiophiles have experienced this at least once. That has been the case for me with the Silver Diamond Digital cable and it’s the reason I am writing this review now. I have been reviewing the outstanding Chord Electronics DAVE DAC and as a product it had me running around in circles and really pushed me to find the way of getting it to sounding somewhere near as good as it can. Its a very interesting product in that regard because it is extremely sensitive to the incoming signal quality
Why is this important for the Silver Diamond Digital Cable review I hear you ask, well actually this has been the ultimate test for it. I compared feeding the DAVE directly via USB from my music server to feeding it USB to the Mutec MC3+USB clock then via the Silver Diamond Digital Cable to the DAVE via BNC. The latter is adding two more stages to the chain, an extra set of circuit boards, power supplies and an extra metre and a half of cable that is a potential antennae for RF noise on its own. We know the DAVE is extremely sensitive to RF noise – ask Chord Blu MKII owners or Rob Watts himself.
To my surprise and testament to both Tellurium Q and Mutec using the Silver Diamond digital cable and MC3+ USB sounded much clearer and cleaner compared to feeding the DAVE USB directly from the music server. That is a true test and a true testament to the quality of the design of the Tellurium Q Silver Diamond BNC Digital Cable. Not only was the overall sound clean and clear, it was dynamic and expressive with outstanding bass clarity. The overall resolution and detail was mind blowing and most impressive is just how natural the vocals are as part of a wide open sound stage with depth and width to spare. See the two system demonstration videos below for examples of this.
The Chord DAVE had been punishing most of my bad system setup choices and only when I got them very right did it reward me with the best sound I have had from the review system and using the Silver Diamond Digital Cable was clearly getting it very right.
I can imagine for some audiophiles even the idea of reviewing a digital cable is up there with reviewing the extreme tweaks the industry has seen over the years like the “green pen”. My answer to that would be spend some time with a product like the Chord DAVE, see how much it puts a spotlight on your setup and then put a high quality digital cable like the Tellurium Q Silver Diamond to the test. The result will tell you all you need to know.
While we are on the topic of spotlights I think it is very apt for my final comments on the Silver Diamond digital cable. When I asked Geoff Merrigan Tellurium Q MD about their cables and all he let slip is the filtering effect all cables have on a signal. I feel with the Silver Diamond Tellurium Q have made a cable with the least amount of filtering effect that I have experienced thus far allowing more of the original signal to come through while rejecting more of the nasties we don’t want through.
An achievement that’s far harder than it sounds.
I am very happy with my purchase and can see me adding more to the system (Chord Hugo M Scaler needs 2 for example) when the time comes.
A Special Performer Award is Pursuit Perfect Systems highest accolade and is in recognition of exceptional product performance regardless of price