In 1996 a maverick audio designer entered the high end scene and designed his first low powered SET amplifier. Steve Deckert formed Decware with the intention to offer the public direct a no nonsense high quality and reasonably price amplifier. After spending a month with the Taboo I would say Steve has exceeded every goal he set with the design of this amplifier. I shake my head in awe every time I listen to what this amplifier does and at a price everyone could afford. Whether you’re an audiophile or just a plain music lover the Taboo will make you enjoy the presentation of your music and may be the end all amp for you as it is for me.
The Taboo is a 6W SEP design that can be used either as a standalone amplifier or with a preamp. The CSP-2 preamp Decware manufactures is a perfect match and a marriage made in heaven, it adds more dynamics and makes the amp seem much more dynamic and more powerful than the 6W would suggest. My Taboo was designed at my request with a headphone input utilizing the full 6W of the Taboo power to play virtually any low impedance headphone in the marketplace. I had wanted an amplifier that would open up my Audeze LCD2 and provide the power that planar designs seem to crave. The Taboo has exceeded my goals and it delivers all the goods on both headphones and high efficiency monitor speakers.
The Taboo uses a 5u4G rectifier and is completely tube regulated. It sports a pair of 6P15P Russian SV83 tubes and can also use EL84. Two output tubes provide the power and a single 12AU7 for the driver stage. You can use 12AX7, 12AT7 and the 12BH7 tubes for some fun tube rolling as well as all the EL84 tubes both new production and NOS stock. My favorite combination is the 6P15P tubes with a RCA 12BH7. The Hazen mod that Steve implemented in the design allows for the SV83 tubes to be used. The amp also has a switch for Lucid Mode which depending on recordings gives a bigger sound stage. I leave the lucid mode on all the time. The amp also has a switch which allows me to use either headphones or speakers with the amplifier.
Midrange is where most of the music lives. The Taboo has an outstanding midrange. It allows you to hear every detail in the recording whether it is guitar string being plucked or a sax player blowing into the instrument. Soundstage is very wide and deep with plenty of air around instruments. Listening to Harry Connick We are Love album on track six A Nightingale Sang in Berkley square Brandon Marsalis plays the Tenor Sax and it is a scary live in the house feeling on the LCD2. Connick voice comes through with amazing detail and the instrument separation is really good. Acoustic Bass you can hear not only the lowest bass notes but also the complete body of the instrument with great focus
Bass is very tight deep and controlled. The LCD2 really detail how well this amp does bass. Percussion instruments really are a treat. I hear hands hitting bongo and the skin of the instrument is clearly present. Sticks hitting the drums sound very realistic and brushes on drums are very clear in presentation. The Taboo takes full advantage of the LCD2 bass. Anyone who thought tube amps do not have bass would be impressed by how good the Taboo reproduces bass,
The treble is special on the Taboo. There is not any hint of harshness. It is well extended and the highs are more toward sparkly, clean and the most realistic I have heard on any of my prior amps. Cymbals sound like live cymbals. The sheen and natural sound is very present. Listening to wind instruments is a special treat on this amp. I love listening to Patricia Barber Hammond Organ and on Modern Cool which was recorded kind of hot will make any treble issues present. There were none I could detect and the music just flowed.
Listening to female vocals of well recorded albums is a very strong point of the LCD2 and the Taboo let you hear all vocalists in all their glory. Listening to Alison Krauss and Union Station Live is really a treat. Jerry Douglas Dobro playing really sounds phenomenal as you can hear him plucking the strings and the instrument tone is spot on. Alison vocals are my favorite and this amp with the LCD2 really makes me feel like I am in the concert and involved with the band. You can hear the strings on her fiddle and the vocals are very nicely delivered. The separation and soundstage is better than I have heard on any amp with the LCD2. For people who are concerned about the soundstage this amp will make you forget that the LCD2 is not as wide and as deep as some owner have felt. The Taboo is a perfect amp to showcase what the LCD2 can do. The Taboo has stepped up the class of the LCD2 over any other amp I have heard or owned.
Steve Deckert has designed a time proven winner at a ridicules low price. The amp is built point to point with custom transformers and all hand made by Steve himself. All parts used are of very high quality. It has what I like to call the look of yesteryear when tube amps ruled the high end.$1100.00 buys a high quality amplifier that performs well beyond the cost of admission.If there is a better amp to be had that can deliver what the Taboo delivers in this price range I have yet to hear it. Backed by a lifetime warranty and built in Illinois by a renegade maverick that loves music and knows how to make it sound just right. The Taboo and CSP-2 delivers musicality and for me it will provide years of enjoyment and it has brought both my LCD2 and Omega monitor speakers to another level and at a price point everyone could afford. At this price you would be hard pressed to find a better amp.. The Taboo and CSP-2 deliver both amazing clarity and detail that will be my end all system for years to come. If you’re looking for near perfect and have the money to invest do not hesitate to buy the Decware gear it really is world class and has me listening for hours on hours with non fatigue. It just plays music and in the end that what is really matters most . The Taboo is highly recommended.
Edited by Frank I - 1/20/11 at 4:00pm