After joining Head-Fi and working my way around the forums I ran across a few of them
dedicated to equipment from Decware. (www.decware.com) After much reading
(and reading and reading) of the many different manufacturers forums on Head-Fi I
decided to purchase the Decware CSP2+ Pre-amp/Headphone amp. It has been a delight
and is today the center of my headphone experience.
Decware CSP2+ sourced by the Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 and a MBPro with Amarra into
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Decware and spend some time with Steve Deckert
and the team. You can read about the company here:
This is a gracious group of dedicated people. I want to say thank you to
Steve, DeVon, Sarah, Rich and the rest of the staff for making me feel very welcome as
I rummaged through the shop for several hours.
Decware Taboo MK III Prototype sourced by my HP-P1 and Steve's Mac Mini server
Decware is a small firm founded by Steve Deckert, located in East Peoria, IL., that builds
high quality affordable tube audio gear. Steve is first and foremost an audio fan and by
happy chance he is also a top notch engineer. He started out as a carpenter building his
own speakers. He had a friend who built an amp and he built his own so they could have
their own blind tests. Steve said this was his first introduction into Psycho-accoustics as
his friends amp had a metal case and his was wood. They would blindfold each other for
listening tests, but Steve would tap his ring on his friends metal case so he would think
his own amp was next. Then Steve would hook up his wooden boxed amp and enjoy his
friend raving about what an awesome sound it was.
I can see all of us getting in on that scene!
Ultimately, he started Decware to make amps that interested him. He found he can
make a triode sound like a pentode and vice versa. Steve told me that a designer can
choose to voice his amps as desired; Neutral, fat, lean, dark....So for him it was about
about building what sounded good to Steve. He hopes we like what he likes.
BTW, Steve has been a recording engineer. He has recorded concerts then brings the
recordings home to see how close he can make the amp reproduce what he has
recorded personally. Voicing the amp to master tape sound. It is tough to get closer
to it than that!
Steve with my HD800's on the Taboo MK III Prototype...
We spent a lot of time with the new Taboo MK III. I listened with my Sennheiser HD800's,
but also with Steve's Audeze LCD-2.2's with both Single ended and balanced cables.
(Steve made his own cables...Go figure...) Since this was my first go with Audeze,
I will not comment on the amp with them except to say that I enjoyed it very much.
I will also do a full Taboo MK III review once I receive mine with my HD800's and My HD650's.
BTW, where did the name Taboo come from for an amp design?
Beeswax Capacitor on the Taboo MK III. The foil floats in the viscous wax after about
30-60 minutes of on time.
Taboo MK III 1st production model. Note the new black top plate.
Taboo MK III Prototype with Audeze LCD-2.2's and Sennheiser HD800's using a
Fostex HP-P1 as a source. iPod Classic 7th Gen with AIFF files.
Note the switches just above the L/R Single Ended Jacks. On the right is the switch
for the Old Lucid Mode. On the left, the New Lucid Mode. This is a game changer for
a headphone amp. Yep, you can roll tubes, yep you can switch your sources
(Dacs, iDevice, CD/SACD, etc) but Lucid mode adds another dimension. It is situational.
Some songs and recordings will not be improved and others were a revelation. For me
as a hobbyist, it is another way to make adjustments to the sound. BTW, it is not subtle.
You will know when you have it on. For you HD800 folks...Think soundstage on steroids!
What IS Lucid mode you ask?
Loving the meters. You will know how your output tubes are doing. No work though,
it is self biasing.
This is the only one in white. Black is the new color for this season.
Steve is expecting to update the CSP2+ this year to the new black top as well.
The typewriter styled black coating will not show fingerprints and will not show the first
speck of dust...Of course, none of our gear ever gets dust on it..
After spending time with the Taboo we went into the speaker room. Decware makes a
full line of amazing and highly efficient speakers. This was Steve's original hobby.
He built all of his own speakers and is always working on new speaker designs.
The ZOB Single Driver open baffle You think HD800's will expose a bad recording?...Try
these on for size! Incredibly fast and detailed. The amps are the new Torii Monos.
Steve's all out assault on an amplifier. The CSP2+ is in the middle of it all and a Teres
Turntable. (http://www.teresaudio.com) with a Grado Sig cartridge...
BTW, the paint can is the center channel speaker for the movie surround sound.
Single driver run by 3 watts....funny!
Meet the family!...BTW, the corner of the room IS a loaded horn speaker.
We spent an hour or so listening to various combinations of the Taboo/CSP2 and the
DM945 Bookshelf's and the Torii Mono/CSP2+ and the HR-1's (In White) and the ZOB's
BTW, all the speakers are between 93db and 96db so they can all run nicely from the
Taboo's mighty 4.4 watts into 8 ohms. The 60 watt Mono's were incredible.
The Taboo was sublime...
Steve connecting the Fostex HP-P1 portable DAC/Amp to the CSP2+
The Mighty Torii Mono's
I could be done with searching using this system...OK, The HP-P1 would not be my
primary source! It is a great piece of portable gear though.
The CSP2+ as the Pre-Amp. A Chinese 274B in the rectifier slot. Steve thinks it actually a
5U4G stuffed into 274B glass...
The Taboo amping the DM945's Bookshelf's via the CSP2+. The Taboo is first and
foremost a stereo amplifier.The DM945's are incredibly holographic!
DM945 Speakers, Taboo MK III Amp, CSP2+ Pre-Amp and Fostex HP-P1 Source.
Torii Mono with KT88 and 6N1P tubes:
ZP3 Zen Triode Phonostage in new black
A couple of people asked about what DAC Steve uses...
When you are an engineer, what do you do?
You build your own, of course!
I did notice a Tascam US-144 mk II and a NuForce udac2 in house as well.....
All in all it was a fantastic day with a wonderfully welcoming group of people. I can't thank
Steve enough for taking time out his busy day (They were getting ready to go to AXPONA
in Chicago) to spend time with me and be the kid in the candy store.
We are all fortunate here on Head-Fi to have many dedicated MOT that we can talk to and
connect with and that is a great privilege and opportunity.
If you have a need to call Steve, He is a wealth of knowledge!
If you get a chance to own a piece of Decware, you will be glad you made that choice.
I know I am happy and now I have a T-Shirt to show for it!
Now if I can just be patient while I wait for my new Taboo MK III.......
Edited by longbowbbs - 3/10/13 at 5:59am