In 2011 we were asked to put a headphone jack on our Taboo amplifier to be used with planar headphones multiple times and since then ...
the Zen Taboo has become a popular topic of conversation among Head-Fi
users from all over the world...
The tremendous feedback was encouraging and a year later we re-designed the Taboo from the ground up as a planar headphone amplifier that could still be used to drive speakers (instead of a speaker amplifier that could still be used to drive headphones).
The resulting Taboo Mk III was so good it not only dominated the planar headphone market for those who appreciate the transparency of tubes, but developed a real following among dynamic headphone owners as well. Even one of the better headphone manufactures in the USA is using it as a reference to develop and test all their new headphones.
We are now in the final chapter of the evolution of this fine reference grade headphone amplifier, with the release of this new model, the Taboo Mk IV.
2017 You have to understand that what makes a Taboo so unique is a feature called "Lucid Mode" which makes things image.
THE TABOO MK IV
An essoteric form of crossfeed, it was originally intended to improve the imaging of loudspeakers. As we all know crossfeed is an essential ingredient in all great headphone amp designs so in 2013 we added a second "Lucid Mode" switch specifically tuned for the 50 ohm Audeze LCD-2. This made the Taboo a real force to reckon with if you had LCD-2, ZMF or similar impedance headphones.
Now Lucid Mode is masterfully redesigned as a single variable control with a bypass switch. You simply dial in the amount of effect you want by ear as you listen.
Lucid mode is a fully analog effect that occurs naturally within the circuit. There are no circuit chips, circuit boards, or solid state parts anywhere inside a Taboo to manipulate or posion the utter transparency of the music.
Lucid mode is now fully variable and as a result the feature works with ALL headphones, Planar or Dynamic!
Another exciting upgrade over the previous Mk III model is an incredible dual volume setup with infinitely adjustable left and right controls. So far everyone who's tried it is saying they can't live without it despite being hesitent at first! Dual controls allow you to do some very special things that you won't want to live without.
The Taboo Mk IV also features an updated layout requiring a new chassis design that facilitates a more direct internal layout resulting in more breathtaking transparency through greater simplicity.
Some features that were optional for an extra cost on the Mk III are now included. These include the popular HI/LO option for running both high and low efficiency headphones, and rather than having a HI and LO headphone jack we added a switch so you can listen to any headphone in either mode and decide for yourself what sounds better.
Now available with optional balanced XLR inputs which have been optimized to take advantage of the higher signal voltages common with balanced sources. Having the ability to run your Taboo fully balanced would bring all the sonic advantages that a good preamp usually adds but with greater transparency.
The Mk IV is now built with only balanced outputs and comes with a 4 pin XLR headphone jack shown in the images below. This is the only way the Taboo Mk IV is available. There is no unbalanced 1/4 headphone jack on this machine.
The Taboo is an easy
own because there is no maintenance and no
bias pots to
adjust. Tubes last a long time -
typically several years. The chassis is build without vent holes
let dirt and dust contaminate the inside.
Like previous models, you still have inputs for two sources and speaker level outputs for operating loudspeakers. Some hardcore headphone enthusiasts will also use these speaker binding posts in an unexpected way by using the amplifiers binding posts to further tune their headphones by installing various size resistors.
Shown in standard Walnut baseThe Taboo Mk IV is a world class reference headphone amplifier made in the USA without circuit boards using only the best audiophile grade parts and comes with a lifetime warranty.
All options can be selected from within the shopping cart.
amplifier features a chassis design with
interchangeable solid hardwood bases and different knobs. Below is a stack of different wood bases you can choose for your Taboo. Below that, are your knob choices.
Top to Bottom: Oak, Maple, Cherry, Black, Walnut, Black Figured.
Left to Right: Ebony, Gold, Black Chicken head, Cream Chicken head, Walnut.
These and Other options can be selected
and priced from within the SHOPPING CART
and are explained below.
This amplifier is optionally available with our World
Voltage Compatible Transformers. If you live outside the USA, simply select your voltage when you check out and your Taboo will be automatically wired
and tested for the correct voltage of your country.
WOOD BASE OPTIONS
You may select from two standard wood bases, either Walnut or what we call Black Figured, at no extra cost. Optionally you can get Oak, Cherry and Maple for a small up charge. Custom woods are also available, just check the box for Custom in the shopping cart and then let us know what kind of wood you want in the comments section of the order or in an email.
SIGNAL CAPACITOR OPTIONS
The amplifier comes standard with Cryo-Treated High Temperature Beeswax
Capacitors with silver plated leads from the USA company called Jupiter Condenser. Alternately we have a type
II Beeswax capacitor that uses copper foil that is claimed to be a notch better from the same manufactuer.
The knob choices are shown above. All are interchangeable so should you ever change your mind down the road, the knobs can be changed by you.
The Taboo Mk IV comes standard with dual RCA inputs featuring 24k Gold Plated Teflon jacks made in the USA. These are the ones shown in the left picture below.
Silver RCA jacks (shown right) are available for a slight up
charge. These may be preferred by those running pure silver signal cables with solid silver connectors for the simple reason there is less dissimilar metals. Otherwise we hear no real difference.
XLR INPUT OPTION
Selecting this option will allow you to run both RCA and fully balanced XLR inputs and switch between the two.
Here's a video of the inside of the Taboo Mk3 that illustrates the art of point-to-point soldering. The Mk4 is even better.
click image to enlarge
T U B E S
The stock configuration uses a single input tube of the 6922 family (such as 6N1P / 6DJ8 / 6N11 / 6N23P / 7DJ8) 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
DECWARE always has the best quality hand selected replacement tubes in stock for your Taboo.
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 analog meters show you the condition of each output tube and how well the two tubes match.
I D E A L S P E A K E R S
When using loudspeakers with this amplifier, 8 ohm speakers
will play slightly louder than 4 ohm speakers. Desktop use works
with virtually any small monitors, larger listening rooms are 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 to 2016.
Redesigned from the ground up to be a planar headphone amplifier that will also drive loudspeakers. Top plate was changed from white to black. Cryo treated beeswax caps became standard.
||TABOO UFO / 2016 to 2017.
This is a MK III with updated UFO (Ultra Fidelity Output) Transformers and a HI and LO gain option for better pairing with both power hungry and efficient headphones.
||TABOO MK IV / 2017 to present.
This is a MK IV that has been redesigned with a new layout, cleaner signal path, and VARIABLE
lucid mode (cross-feed / detail expansion)
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
||10 Hz ~ 80 kHz
||5Y3GT / 5U4 / 5AR4 tube
|| SV83 or EL84 /
||6922 / 6N1P
||Proprietary US Made UFO Transformers
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
||POWER OUTPUT @ HEADPHONE JACK.
Figures double into loudspeakers.
V O L T A G E S
This amplifier comes with the option for our World Voltage Compatible
Transformer. If selected 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 even though at the time they were written the amplifier was for loudspeakers only.
O W N E R S M A N U A L
We offer this
amp with a
30 day money
so you can
in your own home!
Available in 120 or 240 volts.