A Visit to Decware
Mar 8, 2013 at 9:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 152

longbowbbs

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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
Sennheiser HD800's
 
 
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: 
http://www.decware.com/newsite/profile.html
 
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! 
evil_smiley.gif

 
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.  
biggrin.gif
  
 
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? 
 
http://www.decware.com/paper61.htm
 
 

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?
 
http://www.decware.com/paper67.htm
 

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..
wink.gif

 
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...
biggrin.gif

 
 

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: 
 
http://www.decware.com/newsite/TORIIMONO.html
 

 

Teres Turntable
 

 

ZP3 Zen Triode Phonostage in new black
 

ZP3 again...
 
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.......
 
beerchug.gif

 
Eric
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 9:52 PM Post #3 of 152

longbowbbs

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Thanks Frank! It sure was fun. I think I see a pair of DM945's in my future....
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 10:00 PM Post #4 of 152

Landmantx

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Awesome Review Eric! Keep in mind that I am behind you in line, so if you need a little pick-me-up, just know that you will have yours before I get mine! I would really enjoy getting to go tour the birth place of my gear. Maybe one day. I am still trying to decide on whether to put in a speaker order soon. It sounds like you liked the Taboo with the Decware speakers.
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 10:14 PM Post #6 of 152

Anthony1

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Quote:

Decware Taboo MK III Prototype 
 

Great post and especially like this pic.. Really interested to see how this sounds with the LCD3s
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 10:16 PM Post #7 of 152

longbowbbs

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Quote:
Awesome Review Eric! Keep in mind that I am behind you in line, so if you need a little pick-me-up, just know that you will have yours before I get mine! I would really enjoy getting to go tour the birth place of my gear. Maybe one day. I am still trying to decide on whether to put in a speaker order soon. It sounds like you liked the Taboo with the Decware speakers.

I am looking for a near field speaker and if I have the Taboo, I would like to not have to buy another amp. The combo with the DM945/CSP2+/Taboo MK III was fantastic. Very 3D.
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 10:25 PM Post #8 of 152

Landmantx

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Did hearing the Taboo with the LCD2 change your views on it? Or do you still significantly prefer the HD800 even with that amp? I guess this is more of a synergy question than do you lime x or y better type of question. If the HD800 looked as sexy as an Audeze, I might switch my love affair over :)
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 10:52 PM Post #10 of 152

longbowbbs

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Quote:
Did hearing the Taboo with the LCD2 change your views on it? Or do you still significantly prefer the HD800 even with that amp? I guess this is more of a synergy question than do you lime x or y better type of question. If the HD800 looked as sexy as an Audeze, I might switch my love affair over :)


I need more time with the LCD-2's to make a better judgement. I probably heard 4 songs and while they were very good it was not enough variety to make a fair judgement either way.
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 10:52 PM Post #11 of 152

longbowbbs

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Quote:
The turntable is Steve's Teres, model 265? Steve probably assembled it himself as that company started out offering kits.


That's it! Thanks Douger!
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 11:12 PM Post #13 of 152

longbowbbs

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Dave, I did not hear the ERR's. too much great gear and not enough time. I spent 4 hours there and it was getting late with a long drive home to go. The HR-1's were terrific. And the ZOB's were almost surgical. Not sure I could live with them. The HR-1s I could definitely live with.
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 11:12 PM Post #14 of 152

daigo

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Thanks for the post and pictures.  I've only spent a little time with the mini torii from decware at a meet, but it was fantastic and it's good to see the people behind it are nice folks as well.  
 
Mar 8, 2013 at 11:21 PM Post #15 of 152

longbowbbs

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Steve said he learned a lot working on this new Taboo that he can apply to the mini Torii with HP's to make is dead quiet. This was one of the concerns people had that asked for HP jacks on the Mini Torii and the Taboo.
 

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