Transparent Audio REF XL Cables and Power Products

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,803
3,459
760
North Shore of Boston
From the reviews and reports I've read about Magico Q1s, it seems to me that upgrading Peter's Mini IIs to Q-1s would have produced a bigger improvement than spending all that money on cables.

Jap, that is indeed a valid comment and one that has crossed my mind. However, I have not heard the Q1s yet and can not say how much better they are than the Mini 2. I have not spent all that money as I do not yet own the Transparent cables. I was just so impressed with how they sounded in my system, that I wrote the review. I enjoy writing when I have a topic that interests me. I continue to be surprised by how much difference a well-designed complete set of cables can make to a resolving system.

At the moment, I'm just in the process of trying out different cables as mine are quite old and are original to my system. I think they are currently the weakest link I have. The other aspect of all this is the notion that the information has to arrive intact to the speaker in the first place before it can be heard. I learned this when I upgraded my source which extracted much more musical information out of my record grooves. The Q1 may be better than the Mini 2, but with my current cables, that difference may not be fully appreciated.

I've thought about upgrading speakers instead, but as my system is in the non-dedicated living room of my small 1790's house, I must consider a compromise between ultimate fidelity and aesthetics. I do think the Mini 2 is a classically beautiful speaker which really sounds excellent, though it may not be the best small speaker available today. And I have designed and built my rack and amp stands to match the Mini 2. I also think if I change speakers eventually, it will be for a larger pair of Magicos, the Q3 or possibly a future Q2. I would like a slightly bigger speaker that is more efficient and offers a larger scale, though it may be difficult in my 16' X 15' X 7.5' room.
 
Last edited:

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
9,408
3,790
920
Peter
Thanks for the excellent write-up. I have been a proponent of network boxes such as those used by Transparent and MIT for several years now. I have been using Transparent's Reference level cables since I moved to my X2 Series 2 about 6 months ago. I was very, very content. As I tired of waiting for D'Agostino's pre-amp to become available for an audition in my system I decided to borrow a pair of Opus SC. What a mistake. They been sitting in my system for two weeks now. I have tried swapping back to the Reference level but that only lasted a couple of hours each time. I am trying very hard to talk myself out of purchasing them but all seems futile.

having owned TA Opus MM speaker cables for 10 years, i can tell you resistance is futile....particularly with big Wilson's.

there is a magic in the lower octaves as well as an ease and life that is additcting.

at one point i bi-amped with 2 sets of Opus MM speaker cables. that was quite amazing. later i did update one set to MM2 status.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
17,438
2,055
770
Portugal
Peter
Thanks for the excellent write-up. I have been a proponent of network boxes such as those used by Transparent and MIT for several years now. I have been using Transparent's Reference level cables since I moved to my X2 Series 2 about 6 months ago. I was very, very content. As I tired of waiting for D'Agostino's pre-amp to become available for an audition in my system I decided to borrow a pair of Opus SC. What a mistake. They been sitting in my system for two weeks now. I have tried swapping back to the Reference level but that only lasted a couple of hours each time. I am trying very hard to talk myself out of purchasing them but all seems futile.

I can understand you. I made the same mistake - I own Opus MM2 ICs and a Reference MM2 speaker cable. Although I was pleased I risk to listen to the Opus MM2 speaker cable in my system, and now I am not so pleased anymore with the Reference. And changing is not only the question of price - it is the fine tuning of the Opus range, much less broad than that of the Reference. Opus are nice for stable people!
 

still-one

VIP/Donor
Aug 6, 2012
1,547
75
490
Milford, Michigan
Wow! Great news! (other than for the wallet!)...can you describe the differences between Opus and Ref? I use Ref XL MM2 at the moment. Most intrigued!

Those who own Reference XL or Reference MM may not hear as big a difference as my jump from Reference MM2 to Opus. What I hear are instruments that are better defined. Lower level notes, especially lower mids and bass are more musical. Pianos have more body.
 

still-one

VIP/Donor
Aug 6, 2012
1,547
75
490
Milford, Michigan
I can understand you. I made the same mistake - I own Opus MM2 ICs and a Reference MM2 speaker cable. Although I was pleased I risk to listen to the Opus MM2 speaker cable in my system, and now I am not so pleased anymore with the Reference. And changing is not only the question of price - it is the fine tuning of the Opus range, much less broad than that of the Reference. Opus are nice for stable people!

I was fortunate the the cables I borrowed were tuned for XLF's and Momentum's. I have X2 Series 2 and Momentums. Perfect.
 

jfrech

VIP/Donor
Sep 3, 2012
1,749
127
420
Austin
Peter
Thanks for the excellent write-up. I have been a proponent of network boxes such as those used by Transparent and MIT for several years now. I have been using Transparent's Reference level cables since I moved to my X2 Series 2 about 6 months ago. I was very, very content. As I tired of waiting for D'Agostino's pre-amp to become available for an audition in my system I decided to borrow a pair of Opus SC. What a mistake. They been sitting in my system for two weeks now. I have tried swapping back to the Reference level but that only lasted a couple of hours each time. I am trying very hard to talk myself out of purchasing them but all seems futile.

I am asking a similar question as Lloydelee21...but want to make sure which Transparent Cable you were using. Are they the MM2 versions? And just plain Reference or Reference MM (MM2)?
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,064
800
658
having owned TA Opus MM speaker cables for 10 years, i can tell you resistance is futile....particularly with big Wilson's.

there is a magic in the lower octaves as well as an ease and life that is additcting.

at one point i bi-amped with 2 sets of Opus MM speaker cables. that was quite amazing. later i did update one set to MM2 status.

I can understand you. I made the same mistake - I own Opus MM2 ICs and a Reference MM2 speaker cable. Although I was pleased I risk to listen to the Opus MM2 speaker cable in my system, and now I am not so pleased anymore with the Reference. And changing is not only the question of price - it is the fine tuning of the Opus range, much less broad than that of the Reference. Opus are nice for stable people!

Awww crap...i knew it. i just knew it...;)
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,064
800
658
Mike and Microstrip,

So which Opus does one go for first...speaker cable, or IC between source and pre? I understand cable between pre and amp comes last. Yes? (i ask not just about the importance of SC vs IC...but i have been told the SC shows greater difference between levels than the IC...have no idea...just heard this before.) Thanks for any guidance.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
17,438
2,055
770
Portugal
Mike and Microstrip,

So which Opus does one go for first...speaker cable, or IC between source and pre? I understand cable between pre and amp comes last. Yes? (i ask not just about the importance of SC vs IC...but i have been told the SC shows greater difference between levels than the IC...have no idea...just heard this before.) Thanks for any guidance.

I think there is no definitive answer. Although Transparent Audio have some guidelines about how you should upgrade your system if doing in steps, I feel that it is too much system dependent. I have found that the TA cables had much more effect in Wilson Audio speakers than in the Aida's - and this also has helped me to keep calm. BTW, I still regret not having been fast enough to buy Mike Opus MM2 when he moved to EA cables ...
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,803
3,459
760
North Shore of Boston

still-one

VIP/Donor
Aug 6, 2012
1,547
75
490
Milford, Michigan
I am asking a similar question as Lloydelee21...but want to make sure which Transparent Cable you were using. Are they the MM2 versions? And just plain Reference or Reference MM (MM2)?

I have the latest Reference MM2 version. That would be the ones with no gold plate on the network box. I think there was a running change even in MM2 to eliminate that from the box. They were ordered for my current set-up.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,064
800
658
I think there is no definitive answer. Although Transparent Audio have some guidelines about how you should upgrade your system if doing in steps, I feel that it is too much system dependent. I have found that the TA cables had much more effect in Wilson Audio speakers than in the Aida's - and this also has helped me to keep calm. BTW, I still regret not having been fast enough to buy Mike Opus MM2 when he moved to EA cables ...

thanks, Microstrip...well i suppose that is a 'someday' thing to keep on the list. (ACtually, its already there.) In fact, i already know how i would do the upgrade when that day comes. ;)
 

Jim Smith

Industry Expert
Dec 14, 2012
147
37
368
Cumming, GA
www.getbettersound.com
Great review, Peter.

I have three comments.

1-

I try to be as product neutral as I can. However, in this case, I'd like to relay some actual business history.

As you know, in the 80s & early 90s, I ran a high-end retail shop. Of all the vendors we had, and - IMO - we had the best-of-the-best, Transparent easily stood out as the top company to work with. In this case, I'm talking about extraordinary customer service.

If, for any reason, a Transparent cable arrived with any sort of issue, from a mistake in what was specified by us, to a finishing glitch, to the exceedingly rare defective cable, the resolution of the matter was always the same. Next morning, the correction for the problem would arrive at the client's (or our shop's) doorstep. No matter what. I never understood how they could drop everything to make it happen, but they did. I always loved the performance of the cables, which was the reason we carried them. But the extraordinary customer service for us and our clients was never equaled, or even approached, IMO.

2 -

During that time I did hundreds of on-location recordings for various groups and the local public radio affiliate. When I asked Transparent if they would consider building some mic cables for me, they jumped right on it. I expected the improvement in sound, but was frankly astonished at their ruggedness (it's always tough on equipment that has to be moved about a great deal).

3 -

Peter, the comments about singing especially resonated with me (no pun). Musical instruments are just waiting to be put to such a use. Yet, I don't think enough of us in the audio world think of our systems in such a way.

Hopefully that is changing!

Best,

Jim Smith
 

AMP

Member
Feb 28, 2011
299
2
16
If, for any reason, a Transparent cable arrived with any sort of issue, from a mistake in what was specified by us, to a finishing glitch, to the exceedingly rare defective cable, the resolution of the matter was always the same. Next morning, the correction for the problem would arrive at the client's (or our shop's) doorstep. No matter what. I never understood how they could drop everything to make it happen, but they did. I always loved the performance of the cables, which was the reason we carried them. But the extraordinary customer service for us and our clients was never equaled, or even approached, IMO.

I can back this up from my own experience. When I ordered my Ref XL speaker cables a couple of years ago there was a glitch in the order process and my order was never marked for production. I didn't find this out until I ran into Brad at a dealer event and he realized that they had made an error. The event was on Saturday and my cables arrived at my office on the early UPS truck Tuesday morning.

A couple of months ago I needed to have all of the cables in my system re-calibrated in preparation for some new equipment. Unfortunately, my dealer didn't have any loaners available and given the shipping time (and processing time) I was going to be without cables for two weeks. TA told me not to worry and they would turn them around quickly so I shipped them via UPS 2 day on a Monday. TA dropped everything, re-calibrated them, and had them back to me on Thursday. This all happened right around the time of the blizzard of the century and they wanted to be absolutely sure that the cables got out before the airports shut down.

Sure, they're expensive, but Transparent has always given me the impression that my problem is the most important problem to them. Aside from what I've experienced in the Asian hospitality industry I've never seen another company (in any industry) that takes care of its customers in the way that Transparent does. They've got a "customer for life."
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,803
3,459
760
North Shore of Boston
Great review, Peter.

I have three comments.

1-

I try to be as product neutral as I can. However, in this case, I'd like to relay some actual business history.

As you know, in the 80s & early 90s, I ran a high-end retail shop. Of all the vendors we had, and - IMO - we had the best-of-the-best, Transparent easily stood out as the top company to work with. In this case, I'm talking about extraordinary customer service.

If, for any reason, a Transparent cable arrived with any sort of issue, from a mistake in what was specified by us, to a finishing glitch, to the exceedingly rare defective cable, the resolution of the matter was always the same. Next morning, the correction for the problem would arrive at the client's (or our shop's) doorstep. No matter what. I never understood how they could drop everything to make it happen, but they did. I always loved the performance of the cables, which was the reason we carried them. But the extraordinary customer service for us and our clients was never equaled, or even approached, IMO.

2 -

During that time I did hundreds of on-location recordings for various groups and the local public radio affiliate. When I asked Transparent if they would consider building some mic cables for me, they jumped right on it. I expected the improvement in sound, but was frankly astonished at their ruggedness (it's always tough on equipment that has to be moved about a great deal).

3 -

Peter, the comments about singing especially resonated with me (no pun). Musical instruments are just waiting to be put to such a use. Yet, I don't think enough of us in the audio world think of our systems in such a way.

Hopefully that is changing!

Best,

Jim Smith

Thank you Jim. I must say those comments about "singing" came from my good friend Dr. Poltun who also uses Transparent cables in Vienna. He lives and breaths music - live at the opera, 300 days straight a year, and recorded on LP in the evenings and while the opera is shut down for the Summer. He has a knack for capturing the essence of music making through his many and varied stories. He embodies the notion of an "archivist".
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,803
3,459
760
North Shore of Boston
I can back this up from my own experience. When I ordered my Ref XL speaker cables a couple of years ago there was a glitch in the order process and my order was never marked for production. I didn't find this out until I ran into Brad at a dealer event and he realized that they had made an error. The event was on Saturday and my cables arrived at my office on the early UPS truck Tuesday morning.

A couple of months ago I needed to have all of the cables in my system re-calibrated in preparation for some new equipment. Unfortunately, my dealer didn't have any loaners available and given the shipping time (and processing time) I was going to be without cables for two weeks. TA told me not to worry and they would turn them around quickly so I shipped them via UPS 2 day on a Monday. TA dropped everything, re-calibrated them, and had them back to me on Thursday. This all happened right around the time of the blizzard of the century and they wanted to be absolutely sure that the cables got out before the airports shut down.

Sure, they're expensive, but Transparent has always given me the impression that my problem is the most important problem to them. Aside from what I've experienced in the Asian hospitality industry I've never seen another company (in any industry) that takes care of its customers in the way that Transparent does. They've got a "customer for life."

AMP, thanks for sharing your experience. That is quite a testament to service.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,064
800
658
Great review, Peter.

I have three comments.

1-

I try to be as product neutral as I can. However, in this case, I'd like to relay some actual business history.

As you know, in the 80s & early 90s, I ran a high-end retail shop. Of all the vendors we had, and - IMO - we had the best-of-the-best, Transparent easily stood out as the top company to work with. In this case, I'm talking about extraordinary customer service.

If, for any reason, a Transparent cable arrived with any sort of issue, from a mistake in what was specified by us, to a finishing glitch, to the exceedingly rare defective cable, the resolution of the matter was always the same. Next morning, the correction for the problem would arrive at the client's (or our shop's) doorstep. No matter what. I never understood how they could drop everything to make it happen, but they did. I always loved the performance of the cables, which was the reason we carried them. But the extraordinary customer service for us and our clients was never equaled, or even approached, IMO.

2 -

During that time I did hundreds of on-location recordings for various groups and the local public radio affiliate. When I asked Transparent if they would consider building some mic cables for me, they jumped right on it. I expected the improvement in sound, but was frankly astonished at their ruggedness (it's always tough on equipment that has to be moved about a great deal).

3 -

Peter, the comments about singing especially resonated with me (no pun). Musical instruments are just waiting to be put to such a use. Yet, I don't think enough of us in the audio world think of our systems in such a way.

Hopefully that is changing!

Best,

Jim Smith

Sorry to barge in here...are you the same Jim Smith who authored the book Get Better Sound?

In any event, thanks for the comments...I have been a big fan of Transparent Audio for over 13 years, and continue to stay with them. Am I boring for not even venturing out to investigate new cables? Perhaps...but I prefer to just enjoy the music. And those cables have just been consistently great imho and in my system. Good to read about their quality of service and responsiveness as well...which is an extremely important part of any business in my experience.
 

Jim Smith

Industry Expert
Dec 14, 2012
147
37
368
Cumming, GA
www.getbettersound.com
Sorry to barge in here...are you the same Jim Smith who authored the book Get Better Sound?

Yes.

I responded to this thread mainly because Peter mentioned me in his initial posting.

I try to stay out of the way on various forums, though I read most everything ... ;)
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,064
800
658
Yes.

I responded to this thread mainly because Peter mentioned me in his initial posting.

I try to stay out of the way on various forums, though I read most everything ... ;)

Wow...thanks for joining. I think i wrote to you once and you gave me great advice. Nice to see you at WBF.
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing