EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> TABOO MK IV >> Taboo Mk IV has arrived

Message started by Lon on 07/12/17 at 02:06:10

Title: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/12/17 at 02:06:10

My Taboo Mk IV arrived today and I got about four hours of listening in.

I didn't bother with the tubes sent, I put in the tube complement that I have been using lately in my Taboo Mk III: '50s RCA 5Y3 bottle-shaped rectifier, SV83 output tubes, Sylvania 7308 input tube.

Right off the bat I was impressed. I ordered mine with the Beeswax Type 2 caps, which I had not heard before, and was a bit worried that these might have a "clinical" or "analytical" sound. Well certainly not so far. I also have never heard UFO transformers in any other amplifier. In comparison to the Taboo Mk III there is a clarity and openness that is unmistakeable. A bit of warm congestion is gone. . . the bit of warmth aspect is a bit missed but I know I can tube roll and find that again, the bit of congestion was not missed. Tonal balance was just a tad on the light side but I know there is breakin to go through and there will be a bit of a difference in a week or so.

As I was mostly listening to the audio of Blu-ray (Game of Thrones. Season 6) I didn't play much with the Lucid and Extraction mode, but I can tell these are much more useful with the adjustability on this new model and may even get some use.

Overall fit and finish was truly excellent, this one was nicely built indeed. An interesting walnut burl finish is on the wood, which I have not seen before on a Decware component. Looks gorgeous and doesn't distract much from the grain of the walnut finish on my CSP2+ and Torii Mk iII.

I know I'm going to enjoy this unit!

On a less positive note I had high expectations for the Taboo Mk III driving the PeachTree Audio small bookshelf speakers I am using in an upstairs system when used with the ZBIT that I lately removed from my main system. Well. . . not the type of results I wished for, the modded Zen C amp put out much more power to these speakers with the ZBIT and sounded better to boot . . . .I'll try another CSP2+ with the Taboo Mk III soon to see if that sort of gain is an improvement.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/12/17 at 13:50:10

Wow. A couple more hours of listening and I'm deep into the music and sound and loving every minute.

I did not expect this big an improvement between the III and IV nor did I expect this "seasoned" a sound so soon. (Perhaps this unit had a goodly amount of testing . . . I did delay the shipping a few days).

I have two sources connected to the Mk IV via the CSP2+, my DirectStream DAC and my CXU. I can easily hear the differences between these two sources in comparison via the Mk IV, and the Mk IV makes each shine their finest.

I'm back to Wow. This is an amazing headphone amp. And for the record: dead quiet.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by JD on 07/12/17 at 15:24:21

Congrats Lon,

I was nervous updating my amps to the beeswax type 2 caps as well but they have turned out to be a great upgrade.
Enjoy the tunes with the new amp.


off to the beach for a couple hours 95 percent humidity blows

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/12/17 at 16:29:44

Thanks Justin. Yes, everything is sounding good now. Even got the Taboo Mk III to sound very good upstairs by finding another position for the ZBIT. But. .  it's right at the point of just loud enough. With more efficient speakers this would not be a problem.

The Taboo Mk IV is calling me back to listen. If you're on the fence let me say this model is really something enjoyable to listen to.

Enjoy the beach!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by deucekazoo on 07/12/17 at 17:23:45

Lon, just wanted to mention that on the MKIII make sure you have the new lucid mode switched off. It mentions that in the manual when running speakers. The new lucid mode was design for headphones and the maximum power is reduced into speakers.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/12/17 at 17:37:32

Yes, thanks. I did have it off. These bookshelf speakers are very inefficient. Sigh. But they sound surprisingly good, and they are small enough that I'm "allowed to use them". . . ;)

Really, it's loud enough, and the system upstairs is most likely to be used as a headphone system, and the Mk III really does that job very well!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/14/17 at 21:09:11

Okay after more experimentation using the Taboo Mk III upstairs with the ZBIT, a CSP2 and a CSP2+ . . . I've decided to use the source directly into the Mk III. Not loud, but sounding very good with these speakers and uncomplicated, so that I can use my best tubes and cabling etc. . . which ultimately pays off. Glad I settled that (for now!)

The Taboo Mk IV is sounding wonderful again today. I have been playing about with the adjustable lucid and extraction mode control. I think I like the sound on most recordings I tried just entering the extraction zone, just after the halfway point of the knob's travel.

The standout feature of this amp is the clarity. On most recordings an instrument or voice is presented so clearly that it has a clearly imaged space of its own. And with this clarity comes an involving sense of dynamics from slight to heavy.

I'm expecting a new headphone cable this afternoon which should prove another little step up or closer. This Mk IV is really delivering the sound.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/15/17 at 00:15:05

Last comment for the night. . . . The Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable for the Audeeze arrived and I got a few hours of listening in with this cable. Very good cable and the length is perfect so that I don't have to use the headphone extension cable and compromise the sound.

I'm so all set. . . I know it's not but the Mk IV seems already broken in and seasoned it's sounding so good. I have a few tubes coming from auctions that I will roll in but that's going to be it for a while. The CSP2+ down here really is making the Torii and the Taboo sing and I've great listening upstairs and downstairs. Life is so good!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/19/17 at 13:21:17

Well, it's been a week now with the Taboo Mk IV in the house, on and receiving signal about fifteen hours a day, off nine hours over night on average. Certainly past the initial break in and starting on seasoning with use.

It sounded great out of the box and even better now. I've rolled some tubes over the week and right now I have three Amperex for RCA ECC189 tubes in the CSP3 with a bottle-shaped RCA 5Y3 rectifier feeding the Taboo, the same rectifier and input tube now in the Taboo Mk IV and Svetlana SV83 power tubes in the Taboo.  This has been the best complements so far. (I am mainly feeding the CSP2+ from the PS Audio DirectStream DAC with VooDoo Cable Stradivarius Cremona interconnects before and after the CSP2+, all power cabling is PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 and all the components sit on PS Audio PowerBases and on VooDoo Cable IsoPods.)

I love my Taboo Mk III and it is the heartbeat of a second system I have so far been able to keep upstairs to use with a Denon universal player, a ZBIT and small bookshelf speakers from Peachtree Audio, though I'll most likely be listening to headphones up there most often. But this Taboo Mk IV IS the better amp. I'm very impressed with the copper-foil Type 2 Jupiter caps and the UFO transformers. There's a clarity and vividness to the sound that is a step up from the MK iii as well as a deeper and wider level of dynamic changes. And yet I would not call the sound clinical or etched ever unless the recording itself has those characteristics. Most of the time what I am listening to or watching envelopes my thoughts and I forget I have headphones on, don't think of audio matters at all--a VERY GOOD THING.

I can hear every change I make in the signal path with this amp: different sources and cabling, different settings on my P10, different isolation set-ups. . . .

This one is not going to be returned, this Taboo is going to be in my system from now forward. I can recommend this amp heartily for planar magnetic headphones (I don't have any dynamic headphones here to sample).

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 07/28/17 at 17:31:24

Two and a half weeks in of use now.

Wow is the word that keeps being appropriate. Just great sound. If I had to give up the Torii and the HR-1s. . . this amp and Audeze and Oppo headphones would keep me from sobbing uncontrollably. :) I really should NOT have spent the money BUT I really am loving this amp

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 08/01/17 at 15:05:24

I am using the Taboo Mk IV amp as THE amp in my system for the first time this morning and I'm very surprised at how wonderful it sounds. REALLY surprised at how REALLY good it sounds. The UFO transformers and the Type II beeswax caps in this thing impressed the hell out of me on headphones, and now . . . they are impressing the hell out of me amplifying my speakers. One really surprising element is that the sound is LOUD enough. I was thinking I would be clipping as I had been clipping with the other 2 watt amplifier that I had used in this system and room. . .but no. Not even with my lowest source (DVR into DAC). Color me very surprised and happy. VERY.

The other thing that is surprising me is that even though I have no tonal controls at all on this machine the frequency balance is just about right where I would want it to be. I miss a touch of dynamics in comparison to the Torii Mk III and a bit of "heft and weight" but there are other ways to skin both these cats. I'm impressed. The Torii Mk III has been THE amp to unseat in my system and though I'm not ready to take it out completely today, I would not be surprised to discover I'm liking using the Taboo in this way more and more.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 08/05/17 at 21:16:40

Okay after a few days of using the Taboo Mk IV as an amp I'm very impressed with this amp as both a headphone and speaker amplifier. I did a number of little changes and tweaks and got the Taboo closer to what I want, a little more bass and a little less treble. I can't wait to hear what the ZROCK2 will do for the Taboo.

That said I put the Torii Mk III  back into action. . . and immediately relaxed into that familiar sound. And the changes I made to improve the Taboo sonics were just as effective on the Torii and I'm gob-smacked at the great changes in the sound. There is just such an inherent weight and heft to the Torii that you don't have to work to get and which I missed. I will probably listen to the Torii with speakers most of the time til the ZROCK2 arrives. And listen to the Taboo happily with headphones. Boy does it make the headphones sing!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 08/18/17 at 22:32:09

Wow. I bought a tube in anticipation of the ZROCK2. . . had to do something to prepare! I bought two actually, both are Amperex "SQ" 6085, one with the rare "pinched waist." I haven't gotten that one yet, but I got the first one I ordered and tried it in the Taboo Mk IV (although now fitted with a 6922 type, I find it plays very well with 12AT7, 12AU7 and 12AX7.)

Wow! This  is a very sweet tube. It is as tall as the EL84/SV83, maybe even a fraction taller! Lots of oomph but sweet tonality at least so far. I bet it will be great in the ZROCK2 as well!

The Taboo Mk IV makes headphone music come alive in a way it never has before for me. I'm so glad I have it!

Not MY tubes but this what mine look like. Monsters!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by SonicSeeker on 08/19/17 at 18:48:40

Where are you on the list?
Those look really nice you will have to let me know how they compare to the 12au7 in the Zrock I may have to give them a try.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 08/19/17 at 18:52:55

I placed an order on August 1. I'm probably two to two and a half months away is my guess based on the three months (and in one case plus) waiting time I had for the last orders from Decware.

This tube is really nice in the Taboo Mk IV! Lively but also very controlled, no distortions or smearing, full clarity.  I'll have to try it out upstairs in the Taboo Mk III soon but I bet is shines there as well.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 08/20/17 at 11:49:13

I love slipping the headphones on and listening to the Taboo early in the morning when my wife and dog are asleep. Total immersion in sound!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by alper_yilmaz on 09/26/17 at 21:00:19

Hi Lon,

On your message from 08/05 , you mentioned that you "did a number of little changes and tweaks and got the Taboo closer to what" you "want, a little more bass and a little less treble."  What tweaks did you do for that exactly?  With my TABOO mkIII, I am trying to have more bass and less treble as well.  I ordered a ZBIT to use the balanced outputs of my Hegel HD30 DAC, so it should contribute to the frequency balance to some extent.  

But also, after hearing my SE84UFO with the Type II Beeswax caps, I am itching for upgrading my TABOO from mkIII to mkIV for the output transformers.  I know it is quite a personal thing, but if you could keep only one of the TABOO's, would you get rid of your mkIII and buy the mkIV for the price difference?



Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 09/26/17 at 21:41:29

Alper, I would guess that the biggest change was using SV83 output tubes, these are a little less bright in my system in the Mk IV, and get the sound closer to where I want it I also positioned my VooDoo Cable Iso-Pods more to the very edges of the chassis, another adjustment that brings a bassier balance to the sound. And I know I rolled a lot of input tubes and settled on an Amperex for RCA ECC189, this one got the sound right where I wanted it.

Indeed I would keep the Mk IV and sell the MK III. Right now I'm probably keeping the Mk III in my second system . . . that system has less resolving of a front end and the Mk III sounds really nice there. But the UFO transformers in the MK IV definitely impressed me.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/21/18 at 18:45:40

I'm tremendously impressed this weekend with the Taboo Mk IV as an amplifier for speakers. I'm running them with the Deware/Turning Point Audio HR-1 speakers and they are delivering for both my music listening and TV watching needs.

Now that said I'm using the amp with my "Z AMIGOS": the ZTPRE, ZBIT and ZROCK2. I don't think I could be as fulfilled with the sound with the HR-1s if not for the ZROCK2 especially. I would need higher efficiency speakers I believe to get the frequency balance I am enjoying now. But with the ZROCK2 I'm getting rich but fast kids and bass and a sweet treble. And clear dynamics. Enough volume for all my sources. I'm really thrilled at the sound.

I know that the Type 2 cryo'd Jupiter caps are one big reason things sound so clear and dynamic and nuanced. And also the UFO transformers, which I have never heard in any other component, are knocking my socks off with details nd speed and neutrality.

In comparison to the Torii Mk III that I have used for years the sound is less romantic, less forgiving and more nimble. The Torii exudes a strong bass and lower mid presence that add authority and POWER to the presentation. Especially with hi-res and video soundtrack material these are commanding speakers. But for music the Taboo is dishing out subtleties and a fleet swing that I really am responding to. I have had to move the speakers back closer to the front wall by about a foot and a half and that means they are also a bit wider apart than I'd like, but this is something I can adjust to with toe in and also a bit of the Lucid Mode added in. My Torii would have the speakers sounding like dark, thick monoliths in this speaker positioning, but it's just right with the Taboo.

I surprised myself by putting the Torii Mk III in storage under my bed. I love that amp. I'm bonded to that amp. But I am enjoying not only the freshness of the sound with the Taboo Mk IV but the involvement it invites. The Taboo Mk IV--in my house it's not just for headphones any more!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/29/18 at 15:59:23

The Taboo Mk IV continues to knock me out as an amplifier for the HR-1 speakers. I still wish I had a treble cut circuit on here for fine adjustments to the treble, but with the ZROCK2 I'm getting excellent sound and that "SE" thang that I missed for so long.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by mark58 on 01/29/18 at 16:38:13

Lon, question...did you try your Taboo MK III with speakers?  I'm thinking of using it for a Desktop system but I never was happy with it's performace with speakers...even the 99 dB Zu "Souls"...

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/29/18 at 16:50:36

Yes I have . . . I really wanted the Mk III to be the amp for my second system but neither the Traps nor the Peachtree Audio I have fare well with the power . . . I've got them on a desktop but I haven't been using them near field so to speak. It would likely work fine for just near field listening. I haven't tried the Mk III with the HR-1s but I'm sure it sounds very similar with perhaps less "resolution" sue to the fact it does not have UFO transformers.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by mark58 on 01/29/18 at 16:54:04

As I thought, it's been strictly a Headphone Amp for me.  I'll have to think about what to use for a desktop system amp...I'll watch the used market with that in mind.  Maybe I'll get a newer version of the Monos and use this version for the desktop?  Just thinking...

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/29/18 at 16:57:29

I wouldn't write the amp off without trying it with Traps for example. I want to listen about ten feet away and that didn't work, but I bet that listening a few feet away would quite well.

Traps need more power to fill a room as opposed to filling a desktop. They're not very efficient speakers.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/29/18 at 22:29:35

It's amazing how chameleon-like these systems can be. I rolled four different sets of tubes in the ZTPRE and settled on four Sylvania ECC189 and two Mullard ECC189. And I rolled the 6085 tube back into the ZROCK2 and a Mullard ECC189 in place of the Amperex ECC189 in the Taboo. A very different sound than this morning's, but also really good, nice to listen to for a few days at least!

Wow the clarity that the simplicity these designs impart is really something. You can hear every change.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/30/18 at 14:38:03

I've also spent my time with the Taboo Mk IV powering my HR-1s rolling rectifier tubes.

I've tried both bottle-shaped and several tall and short RCA 5U4 types, a bottle-shaped RCA 5AR4, the Valve Arts 274B, various RCA 5V4 types both bottle type and short bodied, and several RCA 5Y3 types, both bottle typed and short bodied. I keep returning to the 5Y3 type, and one older bottle-shaped one . . . just right no matter what the other tube complement is. It just has the right balance for me.

It's surprising how much a rectifier tube influences the sound on these amps.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/02/18 at 15:02:13

The Taboo Mk IV keeps amazing me in my main system as an amplifier for the HR-1s. It's strengthening my interest in the 25th Anniversary models as if I can get this sound now. . . I know I can get even better from those amps, certainly for Redbook, possibly for my DVR and Blu-ray needs, especially with the Monoblocks, which aren't that much lower in output than the Taboo MK iV.

It's been two weeks now without the Torii in the system and I haven't been tempted to put it back in. Yes I do miss a sense of horsepower I get from the Torii, but it does come with a different soundscape, and I'm really enjoying the fast and expansive sound of the SV83s in this Taboo. (I must state that the ZROCK2 makes this possible. . . it would not be possible otherwise).

Twenty years into my Decware experience and I'm still encountering surprises! It's as if I have my private audio world that I can be landlord of and every day I get great listening pleasure.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/06/18 at 14:38:45

Another interesting observation: I believe that the Taboo Mk IV has been re-designed to use the 6N1P/6922 tube type. I noticed that my Taboo Mk III can use both this tube type and the 12AU and 12AT family of tubes.

So I've been doing a lot of tube-rolling lately after organizing my collection of tubes. . . and I discovered that the Taboo Mk IV also responds very well to the 12A family of tubes. I'm now using a pair of Amperex 6211 tubes, one in the ZROCK2 and one in the Taboo Mk IV and getting excellent sound! Like Goldilock's porridge it seems "just right" for a variety of recordings. I'm not questioning it, I'm going with it, happily.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/17/18 at 00:23:21

Today I have had a great time listening and I put on Bob Dylan's "Time out of Mind" (the Blu-Spec CD2 version from Sony) and this disc NEVER sounded better. There was detail but zero etch or edge and the music just drew me in. I've been using an Arcturus Type 80 globe rectifier this week and it must have "bloomed"--the sound is really something. The Taboo Mk IV keeps surprising me with its transparency and musicality.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/22/18 at 14:59:59

I've been really enjoying the exploration of the Taboo Mk IV as a speaker amp. This amplifier grabbed me right away as a headphone amplifier--the sound is so good that I didn't really feel the need for any Lucid Mode experimentation and I just found the right tube complement and grooved to the sound.

With speakers though I am experiencing Lucid Mode/Extraction differently and enjoying myself. A lot. I'll say this: it's a shame that this amp probably shouldn't be advertised as "the stoner amp" of the stable, but it would be targeting a receptive audience. That Lucid Mode knob on mine looks like a third eye just waiting to be opened. You certainly can get lost in the subtleties of the sound, or anchor to that bypassed mode--either way the sounds can be transporting.

In my system flexibility seems the theme. The Taboo inputs really respond to tube-rolling and show you vividly any changes in tube complements upstream. There are so many ways to skin a cat on my system and it can be a full-time job exploring them. LOL. The Taboo Mk IV really enjoys being a partner in the exploration and can really play a leadership role. I'm listening right now to a classical radio signal with some Extraction and being surprised by this particular sound.

Let's not even talk about the mind-altering effects of headphone listening with the Mk IV.
The darn thing just launches imagination about 1.75 minutes into the listening and the listener just might get lost.

I would recommend anyone considering this amp strongly consider upgrading to the more expensive Jupiter cap as the sound is so good with these in the signal path. The UFO transformers are a revelation to me and I think are a key component to the amplifier working as well as it does with my HR-1 speakers.

Hey, how about this one: "This is the year of the UFO." It will be for me with the Monblocks coming and there's all the Anniversary buzz. . . . JK I think.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/27/18 at 15:36:48

I spent a few hours yesterday moving half of the components in my system about in my two Samson racks so that a) I could use the best balanced cables I had available for my Magnum Dynlab tuner, which were too short to use in the previous location--I'm now using the Take Five "Deluxe" version instead of the Wireworld Eclypse XLR cables and b) locating the Taboo Mk IV more centrally in the system so that I could use the 2 meter PS Audio xStream Statement speaker cables instead of the 3 meter.

As a result the tuner sounds much better with the Take Five Audio cables, and everything sounds a smidgeon better or the sonic quality increase, subtle, was from another aspect of the change. I was afraid my power cables might not be long enough to accomplish this as I had to move the PS Audio P10 from a central location to a far left one, but luckily the cabling worked. . . just. I was also able to figure out how to remove the cast iron feet on the P10 so that I could better locate the VooDoo Cable Iso-Pod footers on the component.

24 hours later I think all the digital components have returned to being all they can be after a few hours unplugged and the sound is glorious. The Taboo Mk IV keeps on dishing out dynamic and involving sound.

A week ago I solved the "just barely enough" volume issue I had with my DVR and some Blu-ray and DVD video and audio sound by swapping out my Cambridge Audio CXU universal player for an Oppo UDP-205. Sound from both of these units through my ZTPRE was very good, but the Oppo has a dedicated pair of balanced audio outputs that really have upped the gain for TV and movie sound so that gain and volume are no longer an issue. I had traded Mark '58 a pair of RCA VooDoo Cable Stradivarius interconnects for a similar pair of Stradivarius XLR that he beat me out of on an ebay auction and the sound using these cables is excellent.

So I'm having some tremendous listening sessions now as I prepare for the 25th Anniversary Monoblocks I ordered. The Taboo Mk IV really surprised me when I first started using it as a speaker amp, and now I'm used to its solid and yet refined sound. It's well-seasoned and will serve me very well as a headphone amp when the Monoblocks arrive. (Right now I'm using the Taboo Mk III for headphone use, no slouch, but the UFO transformers on the Mk IV give it the edge).

The Taboo Mk IV doesn't get talked up much on this forum so I'm trying to do my best to give voice to its virtues. What a versatile and commanding amplifier!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 04/24/18 at 14:54:09

The Taboo Mk IV is back in action as a headphone amplifier in my system and I have to say. . . I fall in love with it driving headphones every time I use it.

Today I've been listening straight for three hours as Lucy and Fiona sleep and I'm just reveling in the clear but so pleasing sound that I am getting with both my Audeze LCD-2 and Oppo PM-1 headphones (I switched a few hours in as I hadn't played the Oppos with this amp for a while.) With headphones I get a very similar experience that I get from my new 25th Anniversary Monoblocks with speakers--an involving immersion in the sound, bot the playing and the environment of the recording. The Taboo Mk III is also great. . . but the UFO transformers of the Mk IV pull it just a bit higher. . . .

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 09/09/18 at 14:31:36

Okay, since I last posted in this thread the Mk IV has been the headphone and occasionally speaker amplifier in my second system. A 25th Anniversary edition CSP3 took its place in my main system.

The CSP3-25 works very well as a headphone amplifier and I really enjoy it as such. The one little drawback I can think of is that Steve customized it for me (a surprise!) by bypassing the input gain controls and putting a glass resistor in the path. The sound is amazing . . . BUT I am not able to turn the CSP3-25 up much at all with any of the three headphones I like to use. I keep wondering what the sound might be like if I could utilize more gain from this incredible preamp.

I had the foresight to order the CSP3-25 with two stereo outputs. . . which means that I can use it both to drive my SE84UFO3-25 Monoblocks AND my Taboo Mk IV. So I took the Mk IV out of the second system and slipped the Mk III I have in there, and squeezed the Mk IV into the main system next to the CSP3-25.

I'm reveling in even better, well at least pleasing different sound now with the Taboo driving the headphones and the CSP3-25 driving the Taboo. I can adjust and "ride" the gain between the two to great effect. Even wider soundstage and even more defined dynamics. And little subtle details nip at my attention and tickle my fancy. This is headphone nirvana for me. Right now I'm listening to the Sennheiser HD800S and when I submit this post I'll lean my head back again, close my eyes, and take another listening swim. .   .

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Frimpy on 01/25/19 at 22:33:40

Have been listening to my new Tabbo MK IV for the past few weeks and would like add my experience if you do not mind. This Taboo has the
type ll beeswax cap upgrade and the beeswax bypass cap mod.
ZMF Atticus Cherry,   Decware ZCD240, Schiit Gungir MB, Decware IC's.
I only have a pair of Grado PS500 headphones and my Rachel as comparisons.
Present listen to Classic Rock, string quartets, piano, cello double bass.
Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Bella FLack, MArk O connor, Wendy Warner etc etc.
Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and so forth.  I love the sounds of instruments.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Frimpy on 01/25/19 at 22:44:02

IMO the Taboo and Atticus are a very smooth combo, like a babies bottom.
Bass is concise, tight and I love it .  Was just playing air guitar to Dazed and
Confused. Right now its Stairway to heaven..
Early hours (5am) this morning was piano and cello stuff (Wendy Warner) and it was sooooo smooth.  My Grado headphones are not in the same playing field as the ZMf's s wo Iill not comment on them.  
The Taboo sounds just fine out of my Omega Alnico Super 8 monitors, pushes them along just fine.  With my DNa speakers ( 2011 version TB drivers) it does very well ,ost of the time, on some recordings I run out of gas. Intimate is a word I would use for my experience with ZMF Atticus and Taboo. thx for reading    Brian

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/29/19 at 22:41:22

I sent my Taboo Mk IV back for the 25th Anniversary Mods and it is returning Thursday--in all out of the house 20 days.

I'm really only going to be able to do a good "memory" comparison between the amp with and without mods as a headphone amplifier, but soon the Taboo Mk IV will be used as a speaker amp in a soon-to-be set up new system using my other pair of HR-1 speakers. I think I'll probably send the Taboo Mk III that I have in for the 25th Anniversary Mods very soon as well, that will become the headphone amp in my main system when the new system is set up.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 01/29/19 at 22:42:35

Frimpy, thanks for weighing in, somehow I missed your messages. I'm glad you are enjoying the amp so much. . . I know how awesome it is with headphones and speakers, it's a hidden gem in the product line.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Frimpy on 02/01/19 at 12:22:24

Lon, I have also been using the Taboo MKIV to power my speakers. My Rachel is not getting any use, its a 2011 version with no mods.
Presently rectifier rolling, Mullard GZ34 did pretty darn good, listening to 1954 RCA 5r4gy presently no complaints their either.  Seems very small differences in rectifier rolling to me so far but will keep at it  until I pinpoint my winner.  As funds permit I will be purchasing more headphones. The ZMF Atticus I bought from Steve is a winner in my book. Enough detail to keep me listening, great bass for rock, Doors yesterday had me up and dancing( by myself no one around)  I am 65 this year and still moved by good rock n roll.   Yo YO Ma Apppassionato CD playing now. So many good musicians he plays with.  The ZMF and Taboo are so caressing my senses. Its a soft sound they play together.
The Lucid mode is interesting and I like it I can add some air when I deem it necessary.  Have a great day all   Brian

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/01/19 at 13:19:33

Hey Frimpy,

I don't doubt the Atticus sound great! I have three pair of headphones and each sound great with the Mk IV (though I confess the Sennheiser HD800S sounds a bit better with the CSP3-25). I'm not much of a rock listener any longer, but the Mk IV does all music proud.

I find that rolling rectifiers gives interesting results. I've settled on the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B for all my Decware components. . . there is just a consistent cohesive clarity that comes from its use and an enveloping openness.

Can't wait for my updated Taboo Mk IV to arrive!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/01/19 at 22:17:58

My modded Taboo Mk IV arrived today and has been playing a few hours.

Holy cow! A few hours in . . . only a few hours in. . . listening to this modded Taboo Mk IV. . . #007. . . .I can tell this is a monster amp. All that was good about it before is there and more heft and body.

It's a slightly less refined, slightly ballsier version of sound that my seasoned 25th Anniversary Monoblocks have. I'm already very happy that I have sent this in for the mods, and am planning on sending in my Taboo Mk III as well. And maybe even the CSP2+ that I have.

These mods are the real deal.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Frimpy on 02/05/19 at 22:32:26

Glad you are happy with the mods. I am thrilled with my Taboo mkiv.
Keeping SV83's in mine, rolled in a pair of Telefunken EL84's, to me the SV83's have a tighter more tuneful bass. Maybe not as deep but the SV83's are staying.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 02/06/19 at 00:49:10

Right Frimpy, I was using the SV83s for a while and have about 8 pairs of those in reserve, but I found that the tubes that Steve supplies, the military version that he tests and matches, sound a bit better in my amps. Which was not the case with earlier versions of the Zen amps I had, but really is the case with the Taboo Mk III and Taboo Mk IV that I have and the SE84UFO3 Monoblocks. Truth is about these amps that you can roll a lot of different tubes and create complements that sound fantastic, at a certain point it's more "tailoring the sound" to your tastes than anything else.

The 25th Anniversary Mods to the Taboo Mk IV really gave the amp a noticeable bit more "oomph" and "weight" that really works well with my system and room. I'm glad I sent it in for the mods and hope to send the Taboo Mk III in in the near future. I've had a taste. . . and now I want all my amps to have the mods! Steve's work is like crack!

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Nick324 on 11/07/21 at 14:07:49

Lon, easy and quick question  please. Someone on a forum mentioned that the headphone XLR out puts on their Taboo model were 3 pin. I assumed that was a MISTAKE and he was wrong. I have never seen a 3 pin XLR used as a HP output. Can you PLEASE verify that your Taboo MK 4 headphone XLR output jacks are standard 4 pin?
Thank you,

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 11/07/21 at 14:11:22

Like you I have never seen a 3 pin used in this application, certainly not by Decware. My Taboo Mk IV and CSP3 have 4 pin XLR connectors.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 11/08/21 at 13:52:00

Right now I have the Taboo Mk IV out of the living room/audio-visual system and am playing around with a DALAUDIO "chip amp" in its place. With the CSP2+ and ZROCK2 in front of it this is a very very good amp, especially for 500 dollars all in, and with some tube-rolling and speaker placement it has 90 percent or more of what I get from the Taboo, with more power. It just lacks that final bit of imaging magic that the Taboo gives. When you get used to that bit of body that can be obtained with Decware amps it's hard to do without. Though I really am having fun with this amp--there's a speed to it and an unveiled sound that is endearing. And I only have about 40 hours on it so far. I'm going to be leaving it in and who knows maybe the Taboo will become the backup amp this was slated to be if it seasons in more. Life is full of little surprises if you seek them out.

Its size is an advantage too, like the Taboo I can fit it behind the cadenza Lucy made me covert to in this room so she doesn't have to see my system.

Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by armstdav on 11/09/21 at 03:01:10


Is that the 3886 version or the 3875? I own an Audiosector Patek that uses the 3875 and it's the only solid state amp I've kept over all the years. I use it to A-B against all the tube amps that have cycled through my system; if they're not better than the Patek they're right out!  :-)


Title: Re: Taboo Mk IV has arrived
Post by Lon on 11/09/21 at 11:13:38

It's the 3886 Studio R3. I like it very much. I haven't heard the 3875. It's rumored to be a bit warmer, which might be nice. . . .

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