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Tellurium Q Statement II USB Cable Review – who knew it was possible?

Review

This is a review written by Terry Ellis March 2024.

TQ Best cable EVER

If you play music from any kind of standalone HiFi server, then every single second of music will pass along the linking cable from your server to your DAC, however when was the last time you thought about the importance of the cable itself.  I would guess for the lion’s share of audiophiles that cable would be USB and USB is amazingly versatile and reliable.  We all know USB was not designed for high performance audio yet it still works brilliantly and I have blown hot and cold with my interest in the seemingly insignificant USB cable, but I have definitely been more cold than hot in the last five years.  That is because it was a problem that I thought had been solved and I was already using a cable that was more than good enough with anything else likely offering something different rather than better.

Its no secret that I have an excellent relationship with Tellurium Q, the UK based HiFi cables manufacturer and I have been extremely fortunate to use Tellurium Q’s best offerings the Statement and Statement II cables in my system for some years now.  Its important to stress here that not all of the cables in my system are made by Tellurium Q, some I have either preferred an alternative or Tellurium Q simply did not make one that I needed for a specific role. One of those missing from the list was a Statement USB cable and I remember asking company MD Geoff Merrigan about this some years ago. He told me that it was nearly impossible to make a USB cable at the level of Statement and he would rather not do it than do it not right.  I have to respect that approach so when Geoff asked me if I was interested to try his new Statement II USB cable, of course I said yes but I should have been more excited and keen than I was.

Had I known then what I know now, that this is Tellurium Q’s best ever cable achievement I likely would have been biting his arm off to get my hands on one.

Trust is everything in life and audio

The world of audio is very broad and for even an experienced audiophile it can be hard to know what information and from whom you can trust.  For me its not about snake oil and deceit its about having trust that the person giving me the information knows good audio or at least sees it with a similar set of eyes and ears to me.  I hope that is how you see me, but I also know trust is hard earned and easily lost so I always try and go the extra mile with my reviews to make sure I cover the bases for as many people as I can.

I have to put my trust in others too and I am naturally a very sceptical person so it takes quite a bit for someone to have my full trust.  That extends even further when it comes to change, I am as stubborn as it gets so for me change does not come easy, however there are times when change is obvious.  This is a mixture of all of these situations rolled into one.

I have been using the JCAT Signature USB cable in my HiFi system since April 2019 when I made a video comparing two different USB cables link here.  It costs €1000 and its made from a mixture of deep cryogenically treated silver / gold and silver  / copper conductors and its an excellent USB, I have had no complaints about it why would I?  Marcin Ostapowitcz is one of the people in audio I 100% trust, every product from JCAT and JPLAY have always delivered and often exceeded my expectations. Marcin is never satisfied and is always looking to improve so the fact JCAT have not released a better USB cable filled me with confidence the Signature is as good as it gets.

I know nothing about the Statement II USB’s construction in typical Tellurium Q fashion, they keep everything a secret.  Normally I can glean a little bit of information from Geoff but not this time, all I know is its taken him six years to be happy with the design. The retail price is £1664 so its a fair amount more than the JCAT but not astronomical given the very high price of the other Statement cables. I was expecting the price to be a lot higher after listening to it and comparing to the JCAT if that means anything.

Testing did not take long

One of the hardest parts of reviewing HiFi equipment is the constant change, you just get settled with the sound of new equipment and you have to break it down and start again with something else. That is why having access to ‘reference equipment” is so important because its a sound you know well, it doesn’t have to be the best it just has to be very familiar.

Sometimes its essential to make a lot of system component changes, especially when your reviewing equipment up the HiFi food chain from your norm because your trying to find the optimum system balance to hear the new equipment at its best.  I have spent months with the Gryphon Essence Pre and Power amplifiers a £36,500 duo that require a very high performance signal coming into them to really shine.  They take no prisoners and don’t gloss over any cracks in your source quality and when I combined them with the equally clear and transparent Marten Parker Trio Diamond speakers I had my work cut out to get the rest of the system balanced right to make the magic, but once I did this system seemed perfect to me to do some A/B listening testing with the Statement II USB cable.

It had taken me some time in the setup but I was really enjoying the sound of my system with these amazing components in it, but I had no idea how much of that great sound was the Statement II USB.  It had been in the system for a few weeks by now but there had been so many changes I couldn’t really tell what it was doing specifically, the only way to tell was take it out and test another in its place.

The source of the music is the JCAT XACT S1, a very high end music server that is the worlds first and only fully linear music server and it costs €12000.  The DAC I had changed from my usual Chord setup to the Hibiki SDS R2R based DAC to add some warmth and colour to the very neutral Gryphon Marten combination.

Literally on the final day of this systems review I had been listening between vinyl and streamed music from the XACT server to compare the two and the digital sound was night and day better than the vinyl, it was quite shocking to me that it could be that much better.  It sounded more analogue than analogue, go figure.  The comparison made me appreciate just how good this overall digital sound was, big bold smooth and dynamic with a very rich and natural vocal and overall very organic palette.  Music was a wonderfully lively and dynamic thing with a really nice amount of tight bass pressure and warmth but still with wonderful control and organisation.  Typically the final day with the system is the one where its clicking the most but I felt settled enough with the sound now to do the USB comparison between the Statement II and my reference the JCAT Signature thinking any subtle or small difference I would be able to discern and then report back on.

I was not prepared for the difference to be as dramatic as it was going back to my JCAT USB cable.  A very good % of the sound I had been loving about the system’s sound was reduced.  The big fullness of the warmth, tone and tight bass pressure was reduced, the vocal shrank in stature and sounded grittier, the dynamics shifts, especially in the higher frequencies were reduced and worst of all for me the music now sounded very obviously more digital with the digital edge that we often associate with digital standing out compared to vinyl.  This was a very big difference and I will say it again I was not prepared for it.

I assumed this was just a change thing, the USB had been disconnected so I had to give the DAC a chance to settle down so I listened to music for a while with the JCAT Signature in the system and I adapted to the sound as it was still very good.  There was excellent organisation and excellent focus and excellent timing and it was all very good, but it just wasn’t special, or not as special as it had been.

I installed the Statement II USB back in to see if the magic came back and it did and it was at that point I realised the enormity of the achievement.

Final Thoughts

You can’t write a review about a USB cable without the phrase “does it make your printer print better” popping into your mind.  That comment we have all read a thousand times and it always makes me laugh because I get it, there is an element of truth in it.  Its the same USB cable that connects the music server to the DAC as it does the printer to the computer and the printer always works, well it does most of the time.

That is why I was done with USB, not because I had not experienced big sonic differences, I recorded these differences and made a video about it. I was done because I felt whatever could be done to improve USB audio quality from the cable perspective was already achieved back in 2019.  Maybe it was and maybe it has been until now but the Statement II USB has shown me just how much better a USB cable can be. How much better a DAC can sound when the cable is better and the difference was massive, its been the biggest shock a cable has made in my system for some time and the fact it come from a USB is crazy.  That is why I think this is Tellurium Q best cable to date, its the first one in the HiFi system chain so you could argue its the most important one.

Tellurium Q have finally been able to give the “Statement Effect” to USB and its a massive achievement and its an awesome USB cable, they wont be getting this one back from me.

Special Performer Award Website Background

For the full specification of the Tellurium Q Statement II cables please see their website linked here