Zen  TABOO Review


As you un box the Taboo, as with other Decware amps, there is not much to inspire speculation that the sound will be impressive. Ah--- but looks will decieve.
The Taboo brings something special to the listening experience. The Taboo seems to pry open the soundstage. Space is defined and resolved superbly. It's clarity and transparency allow the subtlest detail to appear at the listening chair. Loud passages did have a bit of dynamic compression.
This is an amplifier for those who love the inner voices of the music's fabric. This amp is freakishly quiet in the inner transient space. One of my references for microdynamic playback are trombones. The instrument has an almost infinite number of positions on which the musician can slide inside the same note. James Taylor's -Sweet Baby James -" Steamroller" has a brass section with several trombones. Each player has enough elbow room to blossom seperately.
There is a bit of extra bloom in the low bass, but the bass is solid with little roll-off or woolliness. Bass guitars and kick drums are distinct from one another. Eberhard Weber's -Endless Days- is a reference of mine for bass. The amp handled the english horn, bass clarinet and double bass easily . Webers's concerto for piano was spine tingling with every player part of an estatic whole. Moments like this are the purpose of messing with high end audio.
I will move the Taboo to another room later today. More to follow............

Re: Zen Taboo Amplifier Beta Test Circle
Reply #272 on: 04/16/05 at 3:58pm


The Taboo is now up and running in the "big rig" room.The set up is: ZTpre, HDT speakers, Denon 1650 AR cdp, Bel Canto 1.1 dac, Mapleshade Samson rack, Omega Mikro analog 7 ic's, and Omega Mikro anolog 7 speaker wires, Sound Application XE 12 power conditioner, pc'c from Siltech, Harmonic Tech. Audience 24.  
All gear sits on Mapleshade triple point cones. The room is 17x21x14.
The first cd played was Loreena McKinnett's-the book of secrets- I was moved to tears half way through.
More updates to come...............

Re: Zen Taboo Amplifier Beta Test Circle
Reply #275 on: 04/17/05 at 11:52pm


Hello all, what a fun weekend I have enjoyed! Playing a lot of music on a new amp. Steve stated two goals in the first post on this thread (1) make a more powerful amp to attract first time buyers and (2) make an amp to challenge his original design to the extent existing Zen owners could have an improvement in two channel playback.
Have you ever attempted to describe some thing as common as a cloud - to a blind person? All of the billowy folds, shades of white and black to make shadows of grey. Have you seen the ocean at a Caribbean or Hawaiian island? If I described the water as colors of blue and green would that be close enough? Or better to give more description of : starting at the beach the water is virescence green changing to turquoise and on to prussian blue, and then to aqua marine, and finally where the horizon blends sea to sky the color becomes cobalt.
To say this amp or that amp has tonal color and good seperation of space on the sound stage is to choose colors of green or blue when describing the ocean. Iwill try to describe the Select Monoblocks vs the Taboo.
First, I have often told Steve his best offering is the ZTpre I have owned or own or have auditioned the world's finest pre's. To my ears the ZTpre is only bested by the First Sound Presence Deluxe Mk IV at $16 Grand it is supposed to do things right. I have not auditioned the csp except at Decfest ( it was the only pre Steve brought out I did not request the ZT be brought out to A/B) The Taboo, ZTpre, and HDT's have a powerful synergy. The TABOO was made for the ZT incomparable speed but NEVER etched.
Having owed the Select Mono's since Dec. of 2003 i have become quite familar with thier signature. I have described the SM's as the amps for the audiophile who has eaten wheaties. They can and will cause ear fatigue when paired with the ZT and HDT's and unless the recording is superb there is tendency to analyze this, that, or the other instead of gettin' those toes tapping! Do not mistake my tone , the SM' s are the second best amp I have heard in my 25 year love affair with this hobby. They do so many things right, but they have been bested! Granted a weekend may not be enough to really get my ears aroud this Taboo it wins the shoot out right now.
The Taboo spreads out the interstitial spaces, has a presence, energy and musical gusto to beat the select. It also creates a palpable vertical space between the players( 3D-images). It creates an absolute stability of the images. When strapped to the ZTpre the speed coupled with the opening of the soundstage never smears attacks or the decay of notes. I heard new musical harmonies on albums which have been played hundreds of times with the Taboo conducting. These new sounds came complete with a full palette of tonal colors to hear.
I have not done justice  with my description but the something this good should put a stretch on telling some one else how it performs.




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