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The Wave offered tremendous sound quality for the price. My experience with Transparent cables is that they offer a combination of smoothness, depth, coherence, and excellent bass. Bass performance was actually the first thing I noticed. The Wave seemed to make the Harbeth’s and the SVS speakers go deeper than I am used to, with very good control and clarity in the lower frequencies. Listening to the U.K. band Wolf People’s terrific new album, Fain, there was tons of bass weight and power from the electric bass, but the kicker was that there was no overhang or interference with the midrange. The album is really well recorded, a real stand out by today's standards. Wolf People is devoted to a classic 1960’s and early 1970’s aesthetic, and they get all the details right, which The Wave easily made apparent.
Moving onto some vintage John Martyn and his breakthrough 1973 album, Solid Air, proved how adept The Wave was at handling music with lots of dynamic range. Martyn, the late psychedelic troubadour, gets spacey on this album, with lots of dark and light shading, and some very intense and intricate arrangements. I was very much pleased at how coherent the whole presentation was.
At this point I installed the matching entry-level interconnect, The Link, into the system. The Link retails for $90 per one-meter pair. The cables are terminated with locking slim profile RCA connectors. Not surprisingly, there was a synergy and increase in coherence and more of The Wave's performance characteristics. I’m not a stickler for using the same manufacturer's cables throughout a system, but sometimes it does work better than a cable-mishmash. In this case, there was a definite payoff.
In the end, I found the combination of The Link and The Wave to be a perfect match. With the addition of The Link, there was even more bass control, an ever-larger soundstage, and depth. What I heard was pretty remarkable for a combined $300-worth of speaker and interconnect cables!
After spending a good amount of time with Transparent Audio’s The Wave speaker cable and The Link interconnect, they may be one of the better bargains in high performance audio. At $210 and $90, these are an absolute no brainer upgrade over no name cables, and beyond that, would not be out of place in a system well beyond entry level. To put it in context, I was amazed at how these cables performed in a $12,000 system. Do The Link and the Wave sound as good as the upper echelon Transparent cables? No, there is a level of refinement and authority you get as you incrementally move up the line -- at significantly higher price points -- but the performance level offered for a combined price here of $300 is astounding.
I have reviewed more than a few “budget” audiophile cables, and Transparent's entry-level offerings are definitely standouts. Of course, much will depend on a prospective buyer's system and taste. For this listener, there was nothing amiss and there was no “catch”. The Link and Wave performed beautifully and, in my opinion, are a must try when looking for sensible cable upgrades.
From a company with a decades-long history of building great products, The Wave and The Link earn my highest recommendation for price to performance ratio.
CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16, Music First Audio Classic Pre V2
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Bob Carver Black Magic
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables: Stager Silver Solids, Darwin Ascension (IC), Transparent MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audioquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack
CD Player: Onkyo C7000R
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II MyTek Stereo 192 DAC
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh MA6600, Electrocompaniet ECI3
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Cables: Darwin Cables Silver IC, Kimber Hero HB, DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Transparent MusicWave (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, KECES XPS