T h e Z E N T A B O O M K I I I
The Zen Taboo has become a popular topic of conversation among head-fi
users all over the world... and this was even before we re-designed the amp especially for headphones!
This incredible new version of our famous
Taboo amplifier has
been re-designed from the ground up to be simply the
world's best, all tube, planar headphone amplifier with fully balanced
outputs. We feel confident that
there is no better sounding amplifier for such
world class headphones as LCD-2's or 3's... especially if you have the
ears to appreciate it's immense layering - as micro-detail on this
amplifier is very rich and fatigue is simply non-existent!
We're certain nothing else can compare because we have developed one of the world's most esoterically simple yet powerfully natural cross-feed circuits for the Taboo called "LUCID MODE". This switchable feature is fundamental to the Taboo design dating back to it's debut in 2004. Our new Taboo MKIII has two switchable "LUCID MODES" that take things to a new level that you have to hear to believe.
The Taboo is a single-ended pentode amplifier using the amazingly fast 9 pin output tubes from Russian Radar Video Display called the 6P15P-EV. They have Gold Grids, plated pins, extra thick glass, and extra long life. These tubes are incredibly neutral and extended giving you layers of micro-detail not often heard in bigger tubes... and their affordable.
Besides being able to drive two or more pair of headphones at the same time, the Taboo MKIII can also drive loudspeakers or loudspeakers and headphones at the same time.
Featuring dual sources, and level controls for each channel giving you exquisite
and independent control over channel balance for each source, it has
a MASTER VOLUME using a Gold contact precision stepped attenuator, four headphone jacks, speaker binding posts and works with both balanced and non-balanced headphone cables.
Internal parts are cost no object quality right down to the specially selected cryo-treated beeswax and paper coupling capacitors with pure silver leads.
Of course like all Decware tube amplifiers, it is completely hand built one
at a time by the artists here at Decware using high quality silver
bearing solder. No circuit boards in this stuff, strictly old
school, guru quality amplifier with a lifetime warranty. Here's a video of the inside of one!
P U R I S T D E S I G N
The Taboo is a completely purist design with a minimal signal path.
Even hook-up wire is eliminated with everything connected
parts lead to parts lead. Of course there are no circuit boards
and no inexpensive parts. Our amplifiers have proprietary US made
power and output transformers of outrageous quality. This is an
amplifier that will get the undivided attention of even the sickest
Recently we added the Hazen Grid Mod
to take advantage
of the possibilities of the very unique SV83/6P15P-EV type output tubes
with the Gold grids and extra thick glass... these wonderfully perfect
tubes are included with each amplifier. You may watch them age gracefully over a few years as their long life rating suggests. Simply watching the bias meters gives you at-a-glace status of your tubes.
on the Hazen Grid Technology (also
known as the Christmas comes early mod) can be found
here and in our forums,
And with this most recent and final model, we've added the CKC mod (Christmas Keeps Coming) and dual Lucid Modes, not to mention fully balanced outputs, killer bias meters to show you the condition of your
output tube on each channel, balance controls, stepped attenuator, dual
inputs, a total of 4 headphone jacks that can be used simultaneously and the list goes on and on...
O R I G I N A L L U C I D M O D E
The Taboo design breaks a lot of rules. In fact that was the
whole premise behind it. It clearly lives in the taboo
region of amplifier design and is sure raise a few eyebrows from fellow
engineers when they study the schematic. Lucid mode is simply
the icing on the cake made possible by the floating feedback
design. The TABOO has the smoothness of single ended triodes
and the spank of lightning fast pentodes giving you the best of both
worlds. If you would like to know more about lucid mode, you can
refer to the following paper: LUCID MODE what is it?
The papers are of course referring to the original lucid mode that was
developed for loudspeakers in the 4 to 8 ohm range. The effects of
lucid mode change with impedance so when heard on 50 ohm headphones the
imaging gets much tighter with a strong center image out in front of
the listener rather than inside his or her head. This is a very
pleasant way to listen when you're in a non-invasive mood.
N E W L U C I D M O D E
With the NEW Taboo MKIII we've kept original lucid
mode unchanged and fully in tact. But then we developed a second
lucid mode targeted at the 50 ohm range of headphones like the LCD-2
that would work in harmony with the first. Since the first lucid mode
is almost like listening in mono, the second becomes a dynamic expander
that explodes the size, width, depth, and scale of the music making it
instantly engrossing. When both modes are used together, the
amount of detail retrieval from your recordings is simply
unbelievable. In fact, we should have called it the "wow" switch
because that's what everyone says when they hear it.
Hearing the Taboo's Lucid Mode can be done
on the fly while you listen via a nice pair of silver switches.
When you hear it, you'll wonder how such a transformation is possible
without a DSP (Digital Signal Processor Chip) yet it's as simple
as manipulating the phase angles between channels at different
frequencies in this well thought out design that lets
you hear so much more into the recording than normal amplifiers.
T U B E S
The stock configuration
is a 6922 (6N1P) driving a pair of EL84 or SV83 (6P15P-EV) output tubes. The rectifier is a
5U4 but you may substitute 5Y3GT, 5AR4's or the new Valve Art 274B. You can expect over 6000 hours of pristine fidelity from the included 6P15P-EV tubes.
Because this amp
has the Hazen Grid Mod that activates only when SV83 (6P15P-EV) output
tubes are used, we
ship the amp with the best mil spec 6P15P-EV's made.
These are Russian New Old Stock tubes with Gold grids, extra thick
glass, plated pins, and tested in your amplifier. All tubes come
with a 90 day
S E L F - B I A S I N G
The amplifier is self
biasing so you NEVER have to set or adjust the bias for the output
tubes. If you've ever owned an amplifier that you had to bias all
the time you'll completely appreciate this design. The meters show you the condition of your output tubes and how well they match.
Along with two regular 1/4 inch headphone jacks, fully balanced XLR outputs are also included in your choice of 3 pin or dual 4 pin jacks.
C U S T O M O P T I O N S
Since the chassis was designed to accommodate
additional jacks and even another tube if needed, the following options
|White & Black
|(Other Hardwoods Available)
Additional Options can be
selected and changed in the shopping
- Choose your own look with different wood bases
- Choose 3 or 4 pin XLR jacks to fit your particular balanced headphone cable
- Choose either black or gold knob
I D E A L S P E A K E R S
When using loudspeakers with the amplifier, 8 ohm speakers
will play slightly louder than 4 ohm speakers. Desktop use works
with virtually any small monitors, larger listening room use is best
suited with speakers that are 94dB or higher.
C A B L E S
amplifier is so transparent that
differences between cables will now become big differences. If you
don't have good interconnects or speaker cables or just not sure how
good yours are... we offer reference quality cables that will let you
hear its full potential. It is important to us that
you hear what your new amp is capable so we offer the same silver
cables that we built and use personally.
S U P P O R T
amplifier is hand built in the USA by
DECWARE / High Fidelity Engineering C0. It comes with a lifetime
warranty to the original owner. If you purchase one second hand and
ever have questions or technical problems we WILL be happy to check it
out for you and service it if needed for a very reasonable rate.
have a support forum
many people who own this amplifier who's experiences you may benefit
R E V I E W S
amp going back 10 years.
H I S T O R Y o f
R E V I S I O N S
Manufactured from 2004 to 2006
The original Taboo as reviewed on 6-Moons featured a simple steel
chassis and variable feedback controls.
SE84TS / Manufactured from
2006 to 2009.
The second model featured an upgraded chassis, and removal of the
variable feedback controls with the addition of both direct and
SE84TS+ / 2009 to 2012.
The same model but with the Hazen Grid Mod and upgraded coupling caps. Optional headphone jack.
|TABOO MK III / 2013
Redesigned from the ground up to be a planar headphone amplifier that will also drive loudspeakers. Balanced Outputs.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
This amplifier requires no adjustments or maintenance other
than changing tubes every couple years. It is a self biasing
design and self balancing meaning even unmatched tubes become matched
when installed. The SV83 (6P15P-EV) or EL84 output tubes were
chosen for their sound quality over all other pentodes - price was not
||17 lbs. ea.
||8.5" H x 7.25"
W x 14..75" D
Coat Typewriter Finish
/ user interchangeable
Class A Pentode
||2.1 volts for
|Noise / Hum
||< 1 millivolt
||20 Hz ~ 20 kHz
||5Y3GT / 5U4 / 5AR4 tube
|| SV83 or EL84 /
||6922 / 6N1P
amplifier by Decware
are precision WW/MF by DALE, VISHAY
grade Cryo Treated Beeswax Paper Foil
connector provided with removable power cord
||75 watts at
||RCA type 24K
Gold / Teflon
Showing speaker jacks, RCA inputs, Input level adj, lucid mode switches, TRS headphone jacks, one per side.
V O L T A G E S
This amplifier comes standard with our World Voltage Compatible
Transformer. Your amp will be automatically wired for the correct
voltage for your country and be supplied with the correct removable
D E S I G N N O T E S
Some of the
original TABOO Design notes still apply.
O W N E R S M A N U A L
Taboo MK III - Owners manual.pdf
ZEN TABOO MK III - Shown in Black Figured Base
F E A T U R E S
DESIGN - One output tube per channel running in class A. The benefit of
this is in the detail. Multiple tube designs are never quite as
transparent as a single tube.
BOARDS - Wired point-to-point with parts leads and no hookup wire. The
benefit of this is better sound combined with reliability that is so
great we offer a lifetime warranty.
TUBES - Uses your choice of EL84/6BQ5 or SV83/6P15P output tubes. The
benefit is these tubes have better speed and neutrality than the pricey
CONTROL - Front mounted gain control makes it possible to use this amp
without a preamp OR allows the input sensitivity to be adjusted to
achieve optimal matching with any preamp. Comes with a Gold Contact Precision 20 pos Stepped Attenuator.
INPUT JACKS - Rear mounted, high quality RCA jacks are wired with
Silver/Teflon wire to support even the most expensive interconnect
DUAL INPUTS - Run two different sources switchable through a silver selector switch.
ADJUSTABLE INPUT LEVELS - independent input level adjustment for all 4 channels.
DUAL 1/4 HEADPHONE JACKS - located on each side and can be used at the same time making it possible for two people to listen.
XLR BALANCED OUTPUTS - available in either 3 or 4 pin XLR to accommodate different types of balanced headphone cables.
JACKS - The top mounted speaker binding posts are flipped so high
dollar speaker cables lay out correctly without one being twisted.
These accept banana jacks, spades, or bare wire up to 8 gauge.
BIAS METERS - Supplied for each output tube, the meters show how many milliamps each output tube draws. A great indicator of the condition of the tubes and how well they match.
USA MADE CUSTOM
OUTPUT TRANSFORMERS - Our output transformers are designed from the
ground up with premium cores and non-symmetrical windings especially
for these amps. There are no off-the-shelf
high-dollar output transformers made that sound better.
These transformers are a large part of the reason Decware amps
have gained the reputation they have.
SELF BIASING -
That's right, you never have to adjust the bias of the tubes. The
benefit is that it takes all the hassle out of owning a tube amp, and
allows you to run non-matched tubes not to mention ensures the best
possible sound quality throughout the life of the tubes.
- Designed around the 5Y3GT rectifier and similar types. The
benefit is reliability. With solid state rectification voltage
spikes can damage the diodes ensuring an eventual trip back to the shop
for repair. Tubes are MUCH harder to damage and if one ever did
fail, you could change it yourself in seconds and be back in business.
It is also no secret that tube rectification generally sounds
best - especially in the mid-range.
CORD - Uses standard fused IEC connector with hidden spare fuse. The
benefit is when you move your amp, all cords simply unplug from it.
Also allows you to use aftermarket boutique cords even though a good
power conditioner/isolation transformer would have a far greater effect.
COMPATIBILITY - Our power transformers are also our own built to very
high spec here in the USA and have less then 0.5% failure rate in our
amplifiers. This amp comes standard with a world voltage compatible
transformer that can be wired for any country on the planet.
INPUT STAGE - We use a single 6922 dual-triode to drive the output
tubes to ensure the exact same signature on each channel. The
signature of this tube is the perfect compliment to the pentode wired
output tubes and 6922's are one of the most popular signal tube in the
world. Since tube rolling is a fun way to personalize the
signature of your amp, you will enjoy knowing there are more different
brands and types of 6922 than almost any other tube. We ship the
amp with the Russian NOS 6N1P-EV which is a warmer equivalent of the
6922 and of premium quality.
CHASSIS - Hi density chassis adds 3 more lbs of mass and features a powder
coat black typewriter finish in a solid walnut base. Bases are
interchangeable with other hardwoods.
CONSTRUCTION - No ventilation is used because it's not needed.
The benefit is that no dust, smoke, or other contaminants get
inside to contaminate parts and solder joints. The internal
wiring and parts look new even after 30 years of use.
CIRCUIT DESIGN - This amp is not just another knock off of some vintage
amp from the 60's. The development of this circuit was done from scratch and with great
care. Designed to take the magic of our Triode amps to the next
MATCHING PREAMP - We have a matching preamp that is very synergistic
and transparent with this amplifier. It is our model CSP2+
ULTRA LOW NOISE
- Less than 1 mv of noise and hum (usually 0.4mv). The benefit
is ultra black backgrounds and inaudible hum on even the most efficient ear speakers.
Like having two or three different amplifiers at the flip of a switch. Go between
"Standard" and "Lucid" modes, balanced and unbalanced, and even roll tubes
COMPARING THE NEW & OLD TABOO's
|The older (white) taboo that this model replaced was priced at:
|With upgraded signal caps
|Planar Headphone mod / 1/4 inch jack
|Total Cost for fully tweaked Headphone Use
The new Taboo Mk III costs $150.00 less at:
|And comes with everything listed above.
In addition the following items are also included free:
- Fully Balanced dual XLR jacks for balanced headphone cables.
- 2 pairs of inputs and a silver input selector switch.
- Variable input level controls for all 4 channels.
- Dual 1/4 TRS headphone jacks, one on each side.
- The new lucid mode - sound stage expander.
- High Mass Steel upgrade for lower micro-phonics.
- Conversion to the better sounding 6922/6N1P/6DJ8 front end.
- Higher input sensitivity for better performance without a preamp.
- Ultra cool bias meters, one for each output tube
- Upgraded Coupling Caps (Cryo Beeswax HT Silver Lead)
|NOTE: 4 Pin XLR option adds (dual 3 pin is standard)
The Taboo MK III comes standard with Cryo Treated HT Beeswax signal caps with silver leads made by Jupiter Condensers. We find them to have similar resolution and a more organic sound when compared to VCAPS. However, due to years of popularity in the Taboo we felt it wise to continue to offer VCAPS as an alternate cap upgrade in the Mk III .
We offer this
amp with a
30 day money
so you can
in your own home!
Available in 120 or 240 volts.