Some time ago, I reviewed various cables from Tellurium Q, a new name whose affordable wiring has been getting itself noticed for all the right reasons. Since that review, TQ has launched the highend Graphite interconnects and loudspeaker cables, and also introduced mains cables.
After my previous positive experience, I was keen to sample the new products and the Graphites duly arrived, accompanied by a set of the Black mains leads. The Graphite loudspeaker cables are chunky and substantial affairs, sleeved in black braided outer sheathing and terminated neatly with secure, locking, 4mm plugs. Likewise the interconnect, which is also sleeved in a braided outer sheathing and terminated with locking phono connectors. Both are well made and nicely finished, but broad of girth and hard to hide, these are not cables for the feeble, or those of delicate constitution.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m sorry to say that I have found the Graphites rather disappointing. I don’t have the more affordable cables around for comparison, but the Black got the basics right in a way which similarly priced cables didn’t quite match, while the Ultra Black built on those foundations, offering even more of the same qualities, albeit at a considerably higher price. Both provided something worthwhile at their respective prices but I find I can’t say the same about the Graphite, which, at around twice the price of the Ultra Black, comes with a distinctly high-end price-tag and deserves to be judged accordingly.
Tonally, both the loudspeaker cable and interconnect are quite dark and heavy. This adds a pleasant weight, and offers a notable alternative to something like the original Nordost Tyr, which provides much more energy in the upper frequencies. But it’s not as simple as “if you don’t like Nordost, you should check out the TQ Graphite”. If you do, you may well find, as I did, that all that solidity at the bottom end drags the music down, rather than providing it with a firm support. There is also a sense that the frequency extremes are mildly rolled-off; the bass, despite its apparent mass, just sort of peters out, while the treble lacks the luminescence you find in better cables at this price. The effect is to leave music sounding sluggish and leaden, lacking agility and lightness of touch. There is still the spaciousness in the midrange that’s so attractive in the less expensive TQ cables, but without the sense of pace and timing to match, it’s not enough to hold this listener’s interest.