Decware Zen Taboo MKIV Reference Headphone Amplifier

With the balanced inputs the Taboo MK4 also has the option of being used single ended. I too opted for the balanced option simply to use minimal chain from my DAC to the amp as an option I don’t have available to me with some of my other amplifiers.
I have an older CSP2 pre-amp/HP amp that I have used in the past as a pre-amp and I love it’s ability to fine tune the voltage input into my amp per channel individually.
I have mated my Decware CSP2 to an older Sugden FP-4 class A and the combo had authoritative and impressive synergy, more so than with other pre-amps I have tried.
I also flat out enjoy the CSP2 with a variety of HP’s, ie Grado, ZMF, ATH, Senn, Kennerton.

The older Taboo amplifiers were reviewed extensively by folks over on the “bigger” forums years past along with the CSP2’s and overall had positive reviews but just like many a product fell out of favor due to the regular influx of newer “shinier” equipment that hit the market. The Decware products are dated a bit BUT Every few years have had small modifications and upgrades engineered into them that have kept them relevant and marketable. They are not for everyone, but for those of us looking for a particular quality and the ability to fine tune via tube rolling, they continue to be a very viable and relevant product.

I genuinely dislike hyping a product or even making recommendations because folks will pick it apart, form an opinion early on and then move on, leaving a distaste in my mouth that I find annoying and objectionable. I tend to hold onto products, continually mate them and experiment with various others and look for synergistic matches which I can enjoy.

Decware is a small boutique manufacturer, they are OK, wait till next year and I’m sure plenty of their units will show up on the used market. Shoo, nothing to see here stop hogging up their queue with orders, that’s just delaying my own current order and depleting their inventory of parts…go look at Quicksilver and Felix audio shoo I say🤡
Happy listening always.

BTW, don’t look at the “Rachel” 341.5 amp with the HP option or mated off the speaker taps…shoo I say shoo…look elsewhere.


Yes. The DecWare options are:

  1. Join the new-order queue and wait half a year
  2. Wait half a year and buy the soon-to-be-resold units now leaving the queue

If exploration and turn-over is one’s goal…buy what one can actually buy today…

:crazy_face: :hugs: :grimacing: :astonished: :exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head:

I am curious why is it called Rachel. I looked at that model briefly, didn’t quite understand what were the biggest differences between that and the taboo, other than 341 having a lot more power and using a different set of tubes. I know one is a pentode circuit, while the other is triode, but don’t really understand the tradeoffs made there.

The taboo is built specifically to work with HP’s and also originally based around planar units, ie. Audeze. Later it was modified with a knob lucid feature instead of a switch and also gets the 25th anniversary mod which you need to read about in detail to better appreciate.
The 341.5 is full SET with something called a Hazen mod which is specific to 34EL’s but has the ability to take other tubes which don’t activate the mod. I’m not an engineer or particularly versed in all the intricacies of tube amps. I read through allot of forums and papers on the amps simply to know I wanted both. One sits on one of my speaker set-ups the other will sit on a desktop set-up. I have no idea what the sound signature differences are but look forward to experiencing both. I have used the speaker taps off the Rachel for HP’s and it was both noise free and sounded great but since I got it for high sensitivity speakers that’s where most of its use goes when it gets rotated in.
Wish I could explain things better, but I’m not technically versed enough.

@agent_goldenfox Some factors to consider when pairing your equipment:DECWARE Amplifier Buying Guide


Thanks for the pointer to that! I read the two papers Steve has written about CCE/Hazen after reading your comment here - and it’s very interesting. My take away was that he is saying with this mod he feels like the 3EL’s which are inexpensive and yield the same or better results as more expensive NOS tubes. It’s so tempting ha ha - they have the option to add a headphone tap to this as well!

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