Transparent Audio is anything but Transparent

I bought a new tube amp. With its placement the right channels speaker cable is too short.  Out of impatience to reach the tube amp I bought a single 15 foot super old Music Wave Ultra MM at a reasonable price. It’s 25 years old and sounds great, so I decided to look for a newer 10/12 foot pair, and move that single to the center speaker.

I went to Transprent Audio’s website and it became apparent that I can’t afford new. I started a search for used. This is where the frustration with Transparent Audio began.

My mindset or expectations from Transparent stem from a 2022 letter that Transparent Audios’ president and CEO, Karen Sumner wrote on the “What’s Best Forum” titled “Preowned Transparent Opportunities.

The article opens with Karen writing, “With the introduction of Transparent Generation 6, there are a few more than usual Gen 5, MM2, and older Transparent Cables available through the pre-owned market that offer a lot of performance and value. I hope many of you will want to take advantage of this opportunity.

She makes it clear that with third party sales, “the warranty is not transferable. There will be a fee for recalibration and for any repairs or termination changes that might be necessary. Call 207-284-1100 or write to for recalibration help and service. She never discourages third party sales. Quite the opposite. Karen closes the article with, quote, “Please feel free to ask me questions if you are considering purchasing some preowned Transparent.

So, in a nutshell she writes, “I hope many of you will want to take advantage of this opportunity, and “Please feel free to ask me questions if you are considering purchasing some preowned Transparent.”

But it’s all a lie. They don’t answer any questions, and they screw over Audiogon sales by steering you away from third party sales, and pushing you to their dealers.

I called and asked “how do MM2 Ultras stack up against the G5 Supers. I was literally told that they don’t give out that information. It’s for us to know and for you to find out. While searching I stumbled upon the Aliexpress counterfeits.  They are shipped in a poly bag. Then you go to eBay and buy the box for $50.00 a pop. Transparent Audio Reference PowerLink Factory Cartons eBay item number:224172498955.

I found a pair of G5’s that would work, but being worried about counterfeits, I emailed Transparent customer service with three photos for only for their opinion. Like I said, they don't answer question, and steer you to their dealers, scewing over the Audiogon sellers.

Their reply was “We can never guarantee the authenticity or functionality of products being sold by anyone other than our authorized dealers. If you choose to purchase from third parties, those purchases are made caveat emptor. If you’d like to be absolutely certain you are purchasing authentic Transparent products, I recommend you shop our network of authorized dealers.

So it’s clear to me, that this article wanting you to take advantage of buying used and answering your concerns was just a bunch of propaganda. Thanks for nothing.




I would still like to know along with other cable manufacturers; what is exactly in those “ magic “ boxes ? Seems to me that if you make a cable right the first time around that you wouldn’t need those …..boxes . Just a thought …..


Thank you for the follow up. Yes, Mel was my go-to.

Either he no longer works there or those kids did not know him?



Happy Listening!

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They look to be going more mainstream, not the same since Ivan retired... or maybe that is why he retired.  : ) 

I still go there though and they provide great support. Just look for the oldest guy around for help LOL. 


Nice post. Audio Advice-Raleigh used to be my reference shop as well. I paid a visit last Summer and was horrified at the current operation. There was not a mega-reference system in any room? There was not a system wired with TA cables/cords? Furthermore, a bunch of kids work there now, dicking around when they could be learning something pertinent to Audio. Times have changed.


Happy Listening!

@thecarpathian  You should read Karen's posts at WBF she speaks of the relationship they once had with MIT cables. Also :

REFERENCE Speaker Cable is handcrafted in the USA and is a significant performance upgrade compared to Ultra Speaker Cable because its networks components are more precisely matched to the cable’s inherent electrical properties and length. In addition, Reference level cables are the first products in the Transparent family to be custom calibrated for the specific electrical output characteristics of your components. REFERENCE Speaker Cable delivers deeper, tighter bass frequencies and transfers music with more refinement than ULTRA Speaker Cable

REFERENCE Speaker Cable is available in 2 versions: High Z for high output impedance and Low Z for low output impedance amplifiers, but the customization doesn’t stop there. Connector configurations and polarity to fit precisely and easily with your specific amplifier, speakers, and system layout. Contact Transparent or a Transparent dealer to determine which version is the best fit for your amplifier and to discuss the details of your system connection.

  • Specify amplifier, speakers, and system layout for optimal network calibration and cable configuration
  • Custom terminations/lengths/singles always available

IF you buy transparent cables with the hope of someday changing the wires you got for any number of reasons- mods or upgrades- you need to get them through a dealer. I made a number of changes for a while and it was well worth the help I received. They even made an error in configuring a new pair of  speaker cables (once), and the problem was addressed free of charge and without much waiting. However there are certain incremental improvements in sound quality that my ears are not that sensitive to.  My speakers are pretty great, but there are limits to my need for what some call the top models out there. So IOW I found my personal limit not only money-wise but also the diminishing return-limit as well. But if I still develop a problem, I have a certificate for every cable I bought, and they WILL fix any cable(s) that I need them to.


What exactly are these calibrating to? And what internally can they be calibrating?

I have owned both Transparent power, interconnect and speaker cables for over 32 years. I only upgraded one time, and my local dealer, Audio Advice in Raleigh, NC handled the upgrade process, as well as let me try the more recently released models before purchase so that I could experience the difference in my "real world" setting. They answered all of my questions regarding the differences across age and model. It is worthy to note that not all Transparent Cables can be tuned to your individual equipment, only Reference level and above, so when considering that financial commitment, you can be comforted that the cables you purchase will partner with your components electrical characteristics, no matter which cable you select.

When I changed speakers about 12 years into ownership, I asked about cable tuning, since I went from a Dynamic speaker, (Kef 103.2) to a hybrid electrostatic speaker, (M-L Ascent i), and a Threshold SA 4e amplifier driving them. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not have to send back the cables for adjustment, which means that Transparent Cables will work as intended across many mixes of components without the need for such calibration, but all it takes is a phone call to verify your serial number to do that. I am not one of those people who are on the upgrade "merry-go-round" any more. I am quite satisfied with the system I have set up and with the customer service from Audio Advice and Transparent, which I guess is why they have both been in business for more than 40 years.

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More snake oil, I think we have gotten too sophisticated to buy into this nonsense, well at least most of us!

@marshinski15 , well, if you think that they are not transparent listen to this. I had a 3 m Nordost Odin xlr, bought at their official dealer. It was used in a system with active speakers. Changed the system, so I needed the shorter runs. Nordost at that time, stated on their site that they are doing retermination of their cables. Wrote to them and they simply refused to do it (for Odin) and just pointed me to sell it and than to buy new shorter runs. Suffice to say, sold the cable via Highend Broker for roughly 1/3rd of its original price and bought another, shorter one (not Nordost, of course) Never, never will buy a new Nordost product. There are plenty of others. I guess, the same applies for Transparent as well. 

This thread has had some good comedy, thank you all.

I think I would be a bit wary of buying used cable brands like Cardas and Audio Note that use rather plain looking outer sheaths, they just look too easy to forge.  Not that cables need to have a lot of bling but I'm guessing the counterfeiters won't bother trying to reproduce a unique cable jacket.

I believe Cardas will at least look at photos and identify an obvious counterfeit for you, which seems generous of them, even though that is not an outright authentication. 

Dude, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The whole thing is a lie, the whole industry is one big lie. One day it will all become apparent! And even then people will not believe that it’s all a big lie. Shame shame shame as Gomer Paul used to say!

@marshinski15  I called and asked “how do MM2 Ultras stack up against the G5 Supers. I was literally told that they don’t give out that information.

It seems like they could have shared their impressions on the improvements or difference in sound quality of the G5 Supers vs. MM2 Ultras?  However, their opinion probably wouldn’t mean much to you until you hear it for yourself.

I purchased used Cardas Clear Light speaker cables and interconnects a few years ago.  I shipped the speaker cables to Cardas to have them shorten the length and re-terminate them.  They confirmed the authenticity and gave them a new authentication number after they serviced them.  I later upgraded to the Cardas Clear cable loom as I like their sound and customer service.

I don’t see how Transparent Audio would be able to authenticate cables by looking at photos that you sent to them?  Would you be comfortable with them authenticating by photos?  I imagine they would confirm authenticity if you physically shipped them to Transparent.  


I feel your pain on both points!  I don't start posts much anymore as so many people pick up on one aspect and start off on a tangent and the actual question is ignored.  This lead to others responding to their topic and the OP is left scratching their head lol

Now to your post.  I had the exact same experience when I started my Transparent journey last year.  I emailed their support email asking for comparisons across both generation and level.  They have 10 levels that almost exactly doubles in price at each jump.  I think it is fair that anyone considering or currently using would wonder how Reference MM2 compares to Ultra Gen 5, for example.  Ian politely told me they simply do not ever attempt this.  All he would say is that each level up is an improvement and separately each generation is an improvement.  

I spoke with a dealer and his advice to me was that Gen 5 was a significant upgrade across the board for Transparent.  He suggested I not consider any level below that if I was starting with Transparent.  He also said that Gen 6 was not impressive and worth the extra expense unless you were in the top 3 or 4 levels.

I believe Transparent could be more open with their clients and offer similar advice.  I am also an Audio Research fan and have similar conversations with them where they were very open about cross-generation and level comparisons.

I suppose at the end of the day you/we never know until we pull the trigger and just try something.  FWIW, I ended up going with a mix of Gen 5 Super and Ultra simply based on how used opportunities presented themselves when I was buying.

Good luck.

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Echo Audio is a great place to buy Transparent, including a wide selection of used trade in. While i am not a fan, the longevity of the business and brand certainly says something. I am also certainly no cable denier.

As an aside, I am an Economist… certainly able to do all kinds of fun math… there are significant difference between a BA or BS… and higher…..

My writing skills, another matter…..

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I think all Transparent Audio was trying to do was to have you contact your closest dealer to ask your questions to. I don’t think they are somehow being malicious or talking out both sides of their mouth. I mean that is why they have a dealer network. In addition to dealers supporting and promoting their products, they also want them to be able to guide prospective buyers in making and helping to validate their buying decisions.  Takes some of the support efforts off the manufacturer if a reputable and well trained dealer can be the person to assist with your questions and concerns. 

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I have a 12 foot pair of ultras if you are interested. Had them for years and they are the real deal. Message  me if you are interested.  

I have a 12 foot pair of ultras if you are interested. Had them for years and they are the real deal. Message  me if u are interested.  

@classicrockfan Yes indeed. In my world there is no need for solving second order differential equations. In my world I pay people do those menial tasks using a program called Python. As I am a Metallurgist / Tribologist with a MSME not  a Biologist or Economist (thinking your are the latter as from your other posts, deductive reasoning) I have no need for that skill. I also have much better writing skills that helps me to communicate my point to my direct reports and customers. Really it boils down to one thing in my current station in life "Everything I need to know in life I learned in kindergarten.

Enjoy your Sunday, maybe take an online writing class. 


No way to find out who makes more money who has better amps/speakers... but one thing i know for sure is that i know how to solve second order differential equations... you don't.

One reason I purchase from well known brands is because I plan to resell it someday. Who would buy a Mercedes if you knew you couldn't resell because the manufacturer won't sell you parts or a dealer won't repair it because you didn't purchase the car from them? I recently purchased a set of 8 speaker isolators from ebay. The manufacturer doesn't include the bolts that are needed for KEF speaker stands.  The needed bolts can be ordered for free from a dealer. No dealer would order the bolts for me because I didn't buy from them, even if I agreed to buy the bolts. I was able to find a company in England that would sell me the bolts and I was happy to pay for them. 


Transparent is one of the companies that created a unique situation. The cables have to be setup for a specific component. If you did not buy it new they can charge a lot to setup a used cable. If you are the certified owner they will do that for free or a small fee. This prevents counterfeit cables and sales of cables on the used market. I would ask the seller on eBay if he can arrange for your cables to set them up. 
I was having a watch serviced at a jewelry store. I over heard the salesman that the Rolex she just bought a few days ago would have to be sent back to Rolex to be certified again at her expense. The only part I would not agree with is did the store tell her that at the time of purchase. I feel some retail stores are messing around with information to lock in a sale. Trust everyone, but verify. 
this company also did this to me by trying not to give me all the links to the new factory watch bracelet I bought. In the end I had it in writing. 
There are so many fakes coming out of other countries that some say they are exact copies. Apparently we can’t do anything about it. 

I do not use their products, however they have been in business for over 40 years, have a very loyal following and in this modern business climate, that is quite an accomplishment.

I always dealt directly with Transparent, though technically my orders always went through my local dealer. They always provided great service and a great product, and were especially helpful with special orders...

Transparent Audio want prospective customers to buy pre-owned cables from their Dealers. That is the best way for the company to ensure the integrity of their products.

If one buys anything on the grey or pre-owned market, it is always a case of caveat emptor.

Buying privately versus from a dealer is a tradeoff between the price (assuming that the private buyer is passing on their lack of overheads) on the one hand and service/backup on the other.

What works in one persons system does not always reflect what will work in yours.  Different components have different requirements for AC.  You have to try first.  When you grow up, you can then build your own if you know the secrets. 


Happy Listening

Sorry to hear about your experience. I have actually had GREAT customer service from them always. Every time I call/email Ian has been so super responsive and up front. I live in NH, and they're in ME so every time I order I get my cables next day. I also love their cables even though they are super expensive (even used).


What I don't love is that if you're going brand new there are no deals to be had even from their local dealers no matter how much you buy. But I guess they would even business was bad, no?

Nowhere in the linked post do TA state that they will remotely verify cables bought through a third party, let alone in advance of purchase. How could they. They do generously offer to recalibrate, modify, etc such cable for a reasonable fee and presumably with the cables then in hand can verify authenticity, or not.

OP seems to be being very unreasonable to me.


Thank You the post. The upper tier TA cables/cords will have a Serial Number (S/N). I will second, Echo Audio. Big fan here of TA cabling. Keep me posted on your purchase decision.


Happy Listening!

I'm not addressing directly your issue: I take advantage of the thread to point out a "form" issue of Transparent Audio that always annoyed me. A personal rant.

How can a cable with a bulge between the two ends be called Transparent is beyond me. Imagine a photo/video lens with a box between the front lens and back lens.

What is it? All but transparent. Call them Enhanced Audio cables, Boosted Audio cables, Improved Audio cables, Augmented Audio cables, ... Whatever you want, not transparent, please.

Let alone the whole "calibration" thing: does Transparent Audio have the guts to enter a recording studio and propose their cables and its calibration process? They will either gently decline or laugh at them in face in the worst case.

I know many appreciate their cables. Good for them. I just always feel fooled when I see those cables.

The OP seems bent for not getting a freebie at the manufacturers expense so that the OP can save money. That doesn’t seem like a victim but rather an opportunist. 

There are two kind of fakes. One is OEM manufacturer also manufacture extra numbers and sends to some other wholesaler who sells it cheaper. The purchaser gets original part but no brand. Second is copy of some expensive and fast moving items and very cheap. Only visual appearance and usage can tell the difference between 3. Transparent product description in website and price implies cable has some kind of AI tech/chip which modifies SQ. Still there are large section of people who consider snake oil selling.


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bubba12 They have the right to run their business anyway they wish. That’s not my point.

Since I started this thread, I have had a lot accusations thrown at me that have absolutely nothing to do with my original point/complaint. My point has always been, if you’re going to say what you do, then please, do what you say. That is what I expected, so I was thrown for a loop.

Karen tread was prompting us to take advantage of resale opportunity's and telling us to feel free to ask her questions if you are considering purchasing some preowned Transparent. That is far from reality. If she was honest about her business model, the thread would have been one sentence. Buy used from the dealer, keep upgrading or we’re through with you. There you go, I can accept that. What I can accept is bull.

 Maybe I will go ahead and buy used or new from a dealer. I will register them making it no secret I have these OEM cables. Later things change. I decide I to need to sell the cables. Even though these cables, with this serial number, are register to marshinski, with this address, email and this phone number, Transparent won’t confirm to any potential buyer they’re good. That my name is registered to that serial number. That’s not how you thank people for owning your product, which also invertedly gets auditioned to your family and friends.


The market where I bought the watch had knock-offs from every major international designer imaginable. You name it - clothing, jewelry, shoes, fashion accessories, etc. The vendors were honest and said that all the items were fake. But where did they come from? The same factory as the real merchandise or somewhere else? The vendors wouldn’t say.

The old school way of creating such high fidelity fakes was called the "5-to-9 shift". The same factories where the real goods were made during the 9-to-5 shift were used to make the knock-offs in the off hours. Same materials, same craftsmanship, just no legit serial numbers and don’t tell the boss.

The newer way has been to disassemble items, 3D scan them, and then use 3D printing technologies to reproduce the parts and then assemble copies. This is way too costly for anything other than very expensive small items, like luxury watches.

As an aside, the person who employed me used to own the 4th Ferrari P3, a mean feat given that only 3 were ever produced. He commissioned the 4th, which was a counterfeit made in Thailand. He used to take it to World Trade Organization meetings and to various trade meetings in the EU to illustrate the extent of counterfeiting problems. It alway caught people’s eyes... until it caught fire... at least that part of Italian auto engineering was faithfully reproduced 🏎 🔥