Decware Zen Taboo MKIV

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by gbeast, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    DECWARE TABOO MKIV
    [​IMG]
    (sorry for the crappy pic of it next to my Mogwai)​
    I know some folks here have heard this amplifier. I tried to find a thread already dedicated to it but couldn't.

    So far really good. Below subject to change.

    Update: So pretend these are like meet impressions. My full review will tell the whole story.

    Sound signature:

    Neutral with what seems to be like an upper midrange emphasis with these tubes in. I haven't really looked into what kind of tubes these are. Good treble extension with excellent bass extension as well

    Bass:
    • Seems to have good sub bass presence and texture.
    • No extra decay or too much boominess
    • Bass density is fair but not exceptional
    • The midbass is less hard hitting than I prefer but still decently punchy. Kick drums sound aiight..Compared to my Mogwai it has more of a sub bass focus
    • Control is not stellar but it is definitely not bad at all.
    • Not my favorite bass but it is pretty resolving and it is not bad at all.
    Midrange

    • Very even tonality but with an upper midrange clarity that is exceptional
    • Distinct lack of compression and excellent sense openness
    • Very resolving. I haven't heard a tube amp more resolving in the midrange but that isn't saying much because I have only really heard the ones I have reviewed on my site besides some useless memories from meets.
    • That Lucid Knob cranked can make voices whonky and somewhat weird with a low impedance headphone but pops em out. Yet it takes the HD650 and opens the heck out of it.
    • Pianos seemed like they missed just a tad bit of body and density coming from my Mogwai
    Treble
    • Pretty clear and extended with good air. Definitely not a dark amplifier. If you want a rolled off smooth top end look elsewhere or research some tube options.
    • good microdynamics and texture
    • Solidity is fair to decent but not exceptional and I will be listening more to figure out how I feel about the tonal weight in the treble Nonetheless it is detailed and has good speed
    Soundstage
    • Reminds me of the Torpedo but less forward and in your face.
    • It is deep and very holographic. It makes my Mogwai sound one dimensional (tough feat)
    • Not really wide or stretched out but somewhat narrow with good height and excellent separation.
    Dynamics
    • So far so good. Drums don't smack and bang as heavily as I like. I can't say it has a heavy handed sound but still sounds dynamic. I think snares sound more punchy than kick drums on certain songs.
    • Voices and guitars really pop and it has good micro dynamics.
    • Dynamic range is great
    Clarity/Resolution
    • Takes my Mogwai with upgraded caps and Sophia tubes (clearest and most extended so far) and makes it sound just a little muddy and lacking some separation.
    • Reverb trails are super easy to hear. I was taken aback
    Timbre
    • Kind of preferring the round and more fleshy timbre of My Mogwai but it aint bad on the Taboo at all. It took a little adjusting for the first hour and a half.


     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  2. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Gawd those tubes are gorgeous! I can't wait to hear it, I really liked the Mogwai.
     
  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I loved the MK III when I heard it.

    The ZMF casework makes it even more tempting.
     
  4. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday!

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    I heard one with super speshal toobs in it at a meet in Maryland. It's quite good, but really really warm.
     
  5. Melvillian

    Melvillian Friend

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    I really want to hear one. Love the look of them. Like a steam punk bottlehead crack.

    Pretty impressive how much they crammed in what looks like a relatively small chassis
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  6. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    updated first post with impressions. I am pretty sure a full review may change some of that and forgive me if I posted too early but I see no real difference than someone posting meet impressions. In fact at a meet people wander around and listen to gear whereas I am able to focus on this one piece of gear.

    The short story is that were it not for the incoming Aficionado I would be figuring out how to buy one. My Mogwai has a bit more vicerality to it and just a little more musicality but this thing is in another class.
     
  7. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Good to see some Decware coverage here. I've never understood why Decware is nearly never "in the conversation", as Steve has been at it for quite a while. He definitely makes some excellent products up through his line of speaker amps, so you might want to assess the value proposition here. Also, if you could fill in more details about timbre as you listen further, that'd be great. I'm not sure what a "round" timbre is. BTW, where are the OPTs hiding in this thing?

    PS figure out what tubes are in it! :)
     
  8. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    Tones don't sound sharp on the Mogwai or etchy they sound more round than the Taboo. Not sure if that helps. Those are just first impressions. I know what I hear but have a tough time describing timbre sometimes but the word timbre is such a general word. Sometimes people think it to mean something more specific than it really does.

    This version I just found out is really expensive and has all of the options. Before it is all said an done I will have all of the information on it. Price, tubes used, etc etc. Expect to spend 2.6K for the same sound I am getting.
     
  9. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Yeah, Decware isn't supposed to slather even harmonics all over you. Maybe the Zen Torii speaker amp does to some degree, but that's not generally Steve's house sound. Anyhow, enough shitposting from me...
     
  10. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    ZDS price territory, that. Is a comparison possible?
     
  11. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    @bazelio this is a much earlier version, but the OPTs should be underneath kinda like this:
    [​IMG]

    There's been some really significant changes from the mk2/3 to the mk4, so I'm sure he's changed the basic layout at least a little.
     
  12. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday!

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    That more or less squares up with my impressions of the Taboo vs the Ampsandsound stuff. Its not really a close contest, the Taboo comes out way ahead technically.
     
  13. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    ^That's half the story (technicalities)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  14. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    The dual volume controls adjust L/R volume independently, correct? How does one make sure the balance isn't unintentionally skewed to one side?
     
  15. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    Very carefully.
     
  16. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    The last time I had that issue (on a Stax energiser, with ganged volume), I fed it a test signal that was just a repeating pulse. I then closed my eyes and visualised where the sound was coming from in space as I adjusted the volume. When it was dead centre, I declared victory.

    I mixed a bit of noise in with the waveform, as I find it hard to locate pure tones in space sometimes.

    (Not the most scientific approach, but if it's perceptually centred with the cans on my head in the comfy listening position, that's enough not to piss me off, which is the main thing.)
     
  17. Ice-man

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    I'm not sure that I'm clear on what you're saying here. Are you saying that the Taboo 4 is way ahead of the ampsandsound Kenzie/Mogwai?

    My own impressions compared to Taboo 3 was that the ampsandsound was clearly better. Tone was more accurate on the Kenzie with a nice level of transparency, where the Taboo was mushy and rolled off. I have not heard the Taboo 4 however.
     
  18. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I'll probably never hear one, but it seems that a 2-handed operation to adjust the volume with no easy way make sure both channels are set the same seems really inconvenient. Like having a balance knob with no detente at the defeat position, only worse. I just read the user manual and nothing specific is mentioned.

    Sorry if this question is boring. I'm just rather intrigued by the practicalities of using such a device.

    Thanks for your very useful reply @k4rstar ;)
     
  19. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    Personally I've always enjoyed dual/separate channel volume control. Most of the time I turned them in unison with a rubber strap fit to just the right size. But it was really nice when the singers voice was just left or right of center to make an adjustment and get a better image.
     
  20. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday!

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    I thought it was pretty unequivocal about the comparison. I've not liked the Ampsandsound amps at all, even if they were a bit more tonally even. They all had this kind of gritty treble that didn't sit right with me.
     

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