Transparent Cables - Worth the money?

Hi all,

I am considering a system upgrade which includes Transparent's Reference XL cables (interconnect & speaker). My current system consists of the following components:
ProAc 3.8, ML 383 & 39, Van den Hul Revelation Hybrid (BiWire) and interconnect VdH MC Gold Hybrid. Does it make any sense to upgrade to this extremely expensive cables? I am thinking modular: my following upgrade will be: Conrad-Johnson Premier 16LS, ML 33H. Any comments welcome!
I think so. I went from Cardas Golden Ref to Trans Ref. Pretty big step up...
I have compared many cables and the Reference XL is quieter with greater resilution and better control than any other cable I have heard. It is a great match for the Levinson gear.
My guess is that you would get more than satisfactory performance from either the Ultra or the Reference products - and - you cen upgrade at a later date for the difference in retail price!! Not a bad deal! IMHO Transparent has this stuff figured out - nothing sounds better.

I'm using Transparent Ultra Speaker cable and XLR interconnect between my BAT VK50SE and 33H's.
Considerably better than the single-ended lesser line transparent I used before on my single-ended pream and amp.
It took patience, but I made good deals here on Audiogon for my sets of Ultra. Most definately worth the $$$, especially if you can buy used.

No, they are not worth it. Transparent are just warmed over MIT's. Spend your money on better components.
I disagree,transparent cables are nothing like mit cables.I always thought they would sound the same being same design and all.But they are really totally two different cables,one could never mistaken one for the other.
I have a Transparent power cord on loan at the moment, and although I don't have any experience with their cables, I can say their power cord is excellent and would expect nothing less from their cables . Hope that
helps a little. Good luck.
I work for an ultra high end salon that sells the likes of Wilson, Martin Logan, Magnapan, Thiel, Audio Physics, Celestion, Pass Labs, Krell, Audio Research, Aragon, Theta, etc, etc...and we never had a sytem that seemed to work well with the Transparent stuff!...? We ended up droping the line for much cheeper stuff that worked better overall and made more monetary sense! It almost makes no sense to pay thousands on interconnects and speaker wire that competes with Class A components in a system for the title of most expensive piece in your sytem!!!...and didn't sound all that super special to begin with. If you need melower cables that cost a bunch, Give the MIT350 interconnects and above a try...probably sound better than the Transparent stuff in our experience. For the $, slightly more agressive cables and above would be worth a try in Harmonic Truth link or Silway (HT cables sound lighter weight in some sytems though), Cardas Golden and above (pretty hard to beat usually), Audio Quest Python's very good for $ also, or Nordost SPM Ref (Critical to sytem)...CAAABBBLEE GUYYY!!............
So dealer pandering has now moved from the "Classifieds" to "Chat"? I especially like the "ultra high end salon" comment. Do you cut hair there, too?
stop asking and simply try ---get out there and find demos that are broken in --pay the ups-very cheap in view of deciding on spending thousands-make sure if you get the ref xl they are THE REFERENCE XL NOT REFERENCE WITH XL--ask for serial number and call transparent for id
they may not honor warranty on xl products --discuss with seller etc...
used transparent cables have been listed incorrectly on the net including audiogon--Transparent needs to correct their rediculous method of naming product lines
stick to your own gut intincts and don't ask a dealer--you're inviting doubt
have confidence in you're own ears and make this the last chat comment you read !
Hi Jim, I didn't think Keriadums post presented any conflict of interest, he seemed to offer good advice based on his experience, and I didn't notice him trying to sell anything. Why discourage someone with a lot of audio experience from posting just because he happens to be in sales at the moment? Many of the salespeople I know are not pushy, and are very familiar with a wide variety of gear, often giving valuable advice whether their store carries the line I am interested in or not.
Keriadums, You do realize that Wilson now uses Transparent to link the Watt to the Puppy? Whether you like it or not if you use Wilson, you use Transparent. And yes Kohen, I think they are worth it. I currently have "super" line of cable and hope to eventually upgrade to reference through Transparents upgrade path that Jkphoto spoke of. I don't know of any other company that offers this kind of "trade up" path and I think it is great since you do not loose your initial investment in the cable.
No Money SYNERGISTIC offers upgrade path on ther line of cables.I havent tried the above cables, obviously i use synergistic cables and iam very happy.
I have listened to various cables in a true reference system, and you can definitely appreciate the performance of Transparent cables in bass, treble, mid-range, soundstaging etc etc etc. After hearing I bought them. The neat thing is that if you do not have a reference system, you can buy cables consistent with your equipment outlay and upgrade if/when it makes sense. There is not better system of cables IMHO.

What comprises a "reference system"?
The reference system I referred to is not mine- it is an acquaintance's. It consists of some very expensive "Stereophile Class A" components - many of which are on the short list of "Best" or "World Class."
Are you suggesting that a "reference system" is of necessity "very expensive," and should be reviewer approved?
There are many ways to build a system that does not require "very expensive" or "reviewer approved" components. However, being "very expensive" and "reviewer approved" also does not preclude a system from being a reference system. The one I heard was indeed reference, and yet was expensive and reviewer approved. Go figure.
Gmorris, I don't know if any reference systems that are not going to cost you some serious cash. I am not talking about components that are a good bang for the buck but ones that are considered state of the art. After all "reference" is supposed to be the VERY BEST available, try to put together a system with every component fitting this cattagory on a budget......
i just upgraded my ref. xl to opus mm. i don't know about $ value but i also have some nordost valhalla in-home for comparison and the opus kills it. if you get a chance to hear the opus you will be amazed.
Mike, Opus??? don't tell me there is another line to upgrade too! damn......
Isn't the OPUS $23K for an 8ft pair, which makes it $8k more expensive than the Valhalla?
I suppose you have a lot of disposable income. But we only live once, so enjoy your music.
i traded in my reference xl speaker cable at full list price and got a good discount from there. in the context of my system it made more sonic improvements than other similar investments. for instance, it clearly makes more difference than cd to sacd.
Do they come with a free Amp on one end and speakers on the other?
no they don't; but they do make your amps and speakers perform at a level or 2 higher. so in one sense they do come with new amps and speakers. they also make every recording you own better; if it is recorded decently.
What do you think it costs to build an eight foot run of Opus?
For discussion purposes only, let us assume the following:

Cost of Material, probably at most $500

Labour(assume assembly, testing at most 20 man-hours
@ $25 per man -hour = $500

loading factor 1.5 (includes R&D, etc)

Thus estimated manufacturing cost = $1250 (at most)

Retail multiplier =6

Sugggested retail 6x1250 = $7500

From this example you can see that the cost of the labor and parts would have to be significantly higher to justify the price of this cable at $23k /8ft.
today i posted a description of the materials and construction of the opus on the "audio asylum" cable board if you are interested. it is under a thread started early yesterday. i would think construction costs and labor are a few factors higher than your estimate. but i think this is about performance and market value, not cost. i paid about $8k more than the next best speaker cable would cost. for my money it was worth it.
Mike, good info. I just upgraded a set of "super" i.c.'s to Ultra yesterday (unfortunately not with Xl) but still sound damn good and I hope to be upgrade to REF. some day. I don't know if I will ever make the jack to justify REF XL or the Opus but if I could, I would.
I recently heard the spm compared against the transparent reference. I felt the transparent was a touch better. Ultra-hirez system with wilson speakers & BAT electronics. I also found the audio salon dealer's comments quite useful. It's great to hear from people who have the opportunity to compare many different cables. Has anyone compared the harmonic tech pro-silway II's to nordost spm or transparent reference ?
i did compare thr transparent ref. xl to the harmonic tech. magic woofer/tweeter. i liked the harmonic tech. better. more neutral with more extended high-frequencies. the ref. xl sounded slightly dark and closed in in comparison. to be fair to the transparent it is a 5 year old design. the ref. xl still out-performs most other cables on the market. what other 5 year old design can say that?
in my experience.
1-on krell+wilson systems every time mit beats transparent
2-transparent has spectaculer sound not naturel sound
3-if your system is really well set up and very good sound you will hear that tranparent is bright on highs and not enough detail on bass(againts xlo limited e.)
4-just one positif thing is it s a airy cable
5-not worth what it cost
Typically, the Transparent cables are said by some (certainly not to me) to be rolled off in the "highs." Comment #3 above is puzzling to me. Could it be that the Transparent cables in your system are simply telling the truth about the associated electronics?
i agree with gmorris that if anything most transparent cables (except the opus) are somewhat dark and closed in compared to the best of the rest. that is why they mate so well with the somewhat bright krell gear (i'm sure not all krell gear is bright). also, some earlier wilson designs (not the watt/puppy 6s) are certainly on the bright side and again the transparents match well with them. the stengths of the transparent cables have always been dynamics, bass slam, true timbre, and great detail and resolution. the best of other cables seem to be missing some of these qualities but are more open and extended in the highs; many times these other cables don't control the high frequencies properly and the sound becomes fatigueing. i agree that transparent is rarely a great buy but at used prices it can be a very good buy. since transparent is such a popular cable on the used market many times people's opinions on transparent are formed with designs that are old or out of date so consider that. i have one set of xlo limited in my system and i slightly prefer the transparent ref. xl but i like the xlo also.
I'm using all Transparent Ultra cabling in my system and find that they work very well with my Thiels. I've recently made some changes that could be further enhanced by using balanced ics. However, Transparent is one of the few cable companies where the XLR version in the same cable line is significantly higher in price (~2x). I am questioning whether Transparent's balanced ics are worth twice as much as their SE counterparts. Can anyone comment on whether Transparent's XLR version is better (other then being balanced)sonically?
tom-- the most significant issue is whether your sources, pre-amps and amps are truely balanced designs. some gear have balanced inputs or outputs but are not fully balanced designs. if they are fully balanced then you will probably get your money's worth. of course, the best way is to try some balanced cables and determine that for yourself. i personally like and use balanced equipment but many people prefer single-ended.--good luck.
yea, real funny with the negative votes, coward.
Hey A'gon. You guys should have a minimun age for posters. Apparanty somebodys child keeps giving me negative votes. Oh my !!! I don't think I will be able to sleep tonight....
no sir, if you are going to spend $4000 to $14000 on a cable you better buy analysis plus oval 9s or silver ovals for fraction of the price and use the rest to upgrade to a finer tube preamp.

in my opinion, transparent cables were introduced as designer cables dressed up in black silk stockings with the wood blocks in the end (courtesy of MIT) and directed to the populations of San Marino, South Pasadena, Bel Air, Beverly Hills and the like. It is a marketing tool that gives a retailer greater profit margin in selling a pair in those areas than selling a $600-800 analysis plus or acousticzen cables that outperforms transparent cables in musicality, information delivery, and on and on. transparent cable is not for the common man but for fabio and company. like they say milk the cow if it has milk but my dear sir, you cannot milk a BULL.
tubester, is your opinion based on comparitive listening of various transparent cables against the competition? if so, which transparent cables were bettered by what particular other cables? i am not challenging your statement but asking for helpful information.

3 years ago i purchased transparent ref. xl cables, interconnects and speaker cables, used for less than 1/3rd retail. i agree they are ridiculously priced new. but at the time they were much better than the competition. now these cables are a 5 year old design and some of the competition has caught up or passed in some areas you mention.

i recently compared the ref. xl to some of the competition and the interconnects are still equal to the best i have heard (nordost valhalla) although the ref. xl speaker cable was bettered by a few others; FIM gold, harmonic technology magic woofer/tweeter, and the nordost valhalla.

at the price of used transparent it does stand up to similar priced or higher priced current rave cables IMHO.

a friend with analysis plus silver ovals in his system still prefers the transparent ref. xl but doesn't want to spend the money. i have not compared the 2 so i have can't say what the difference is.
I just upgraded my system from Analysis Plus Silver Ovals to
Transparent Ultra XL xlr and Reference XL speaker cables
and it's clearly better than AP in timbre, bass, resolution,
soundstage. Not to say that AP is bad, but it's overmatched
by Transparent. The AP sounds congested, and has a midrange
deficiency. Associated equipment Jeff Rowland 8T, Bat VK-30se, B&W N802, Levinson 360s,Perpetual Technologies P1A
resolution enhancement + speaker correction, ASC tube traps,
Aerious bearings for isolation, 2 Richard G, Cobra PC's.
Tubester,I am definately common and I don't live anywhere near California. If you want something you have to work and save for it. It's just a matter of how bad you want it. While they are expensive I don't believe the markup is any higher than other cables out there. You get what you pay for.
having owned transparent super and had transparent ultra in my system (ml and b&w)and now have audioquest sterling in my system and have tried may other cables. Cable differences seem to be a balance trade off between resolution and smoothness.With the audioquest in my system it is like u r in the music venue listening as if u r there!
I find with transparent it is like hollywood sound everything is exagerrated bass mids vocals soundstaging placement of insturments and the sound is dry uninvolving no pace rythem, not really musical just a big dynamic sound with exaggerated sound effects.I guess it just depend what turns your crank but myself i will seek sound that takes me to the hall, recording studio or stage
Ontario, my listening tests from listening to transparent tell me that transparent only sounds as good as the rest of
you're electronics and that the cable exposes any weak links
in that particular system. Listening to my friends system
that consists of Krell FPB 600c, B&W N801, bat VK50se, +
Sonic Frontiers P3 Hooked up with Reference With XL technology only exposed the true character of the Krell
amp. In my system I run the same wires but use a Jeff
Rowland 8t to power my n802 and find the presentation to
be very musical and natural. Airy, not congested, extended,
true to the image, rich in the midrange. As for audioquest
I have never tried, but Transparent in my system is the real
I have just completed a transformation of my system to use Reference XL throughout. While I, too, feel that the cost of any of almost any cable out there is suspect, there is simply no denying what you hear. In my experience (and I've tried nearly everything - Harmonic Tech, XLO, NBS, etc.) the Ref XL simply makes musical instruments (and human beings)sound more like the real thing, in real space, than any of the others and by a wide enough margin to justify the cost. When you have invested significant $$ in all the other components of the system, it was, for me, illogical to use a lesser-performing cable that significantly compromised the overall sound of the system. In my experience, value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Because of what these cables do, their cost, for me , was more than justified.
Thought I would chime in and say that the only speaker cables (not interconnects) that beat the Transparent Super line were the gutwire chime cables, and the Kimber monical. The speaker cables are actually reasonably priced for the excellect performance you recieve, but the interconnects are not worth it.
PS even my girlfriend could tell the diffrence between, the transparent and the Analysis plus 9 cables and the rest, but she had trouble (as I did too) telling the differenct between the AQ, the Kimbe, and the Transparent.
And it is not true that your equipment must be up to snuff to hear the differences. Even on the Magnum Dynalab 308 reciever the changes wrought by the more expensive cables were obvious.
I perferred the Transparent, there is just something I like about the sound, but the others sounded nice too and I suspect that some will like the others, so definatly go listen.
B&W n-805's with sound anchor stands
Magnum Dynalab 308 integrated
Bryston 4b and BP-20 pre
Kimber siver streak and transparent IC's
Various speaker cables (see above)