Transparent Audio “The Wave” Speaker Cable and “The Link” Interconnect Review 
Home Theater Accessories AV Cables
Written by Andre Marc   
Friday, 24 May 2013

Transparent Audio, based in Saco, Maine, has enjoyed its position among the most respected audio cable makers for decades now. In an area with fierce competition, their power products and cables have been favored by those with state of the art systems. Their upper echelon products are amazingly expensive, in the tens of thousands. I happen to enjoy mid-tier offerings from Transparent, which serve my system very well.  

Transparent also supplies cabling to high-end audio manufacturers, most notably, Wilson Audio, which uses Transparent wire internally in their speaker systems. A good number of speaker designers use Transparent speaker cables to voice their products as well. On top of that, many in the professional audio world, including some Grammy winning record producers and engineers, endorse Transparent.

Transparent cables are unique in that all of their analog cables use bandwidth-limiting technology with network boxes attached to each cable. It must be noted that network boxes have been a very controversial topic in general. Many purists and skeptics regard any passive or active device attached to a cable as a gimmick. Actually MIT (Musical Interface Technologies), one of Transparent’s biggest competitors, goes one step further, allowing for “articulation poles” to “tune” the cable.

Transparent Audio The WaveTransparent, for their part, says there are distinct advantages to their approach. They believe cables can essentially act as an antenna, so limiting bandwidth at certain frequencies is way to make sure nothing but the musical signal passes through. They also say the network adds some inductance, which helps with signal purity. Lastly, and a very important consideration, they say each cable can be calibrated so they will perform identically at any practical length. The cables are also directional, with arrows pointing the way for proper connection.  

Today, we are reviewing Transparent's The Wave speaker cable and The Link interconnect. First we will look at The Wave speaker cable, which retails for $210 for an eight-foot pair terminated with spades. Bananas are available as well, and that is how my sample arrived. Just about any custom termination, length, or bi-wire configuration is available.  The cable is finished in black, a recent switch over from the classic Transparent cream color.

The Wave is very nicely made, flexible, and low mass. There will be no issues with trying to integrate it into a system, like some garden hose, bulky offerings. The Wave features “five nines” ultra pure copper conductors, and high quality connectors. I used The Wave with two speakers, the Harbeth Compact 7ES3 and the recently reviewed SVS Ultra Bookshelf. A McIntosh MA6600 integrated amplifier drove both.



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.

Transparent Audio The Link InterconnectMoving 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!


Transparent Audio The WaveAfter 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.


Transparent The Wave Speaker Cable: $210 per 8 foot pair

Transparent The Link Interconnect
: $90 per 1 meter pair

Review System 1

CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
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

Review System 2

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

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