For all the Moab hunger out there, I have a set of questions that might reveal something interesting about claimed efficiency of the Moabs, as well as amplification considerations...
Context: I'm not one of the high-rollers on the website, but I'm quite sure there are a number of people out there who would die for a good deal on a hot system. I think the Moabs are special, and yes I do love the aesthetic.
My tendency is to look for the very best I can buy at the lowest possible dollar. I went for the Moabs after doing abundant research and knowing I could return them, take a hit of maybe $400, and have a killer adventure while doing it. I understand the need to hear things and not make a big mistake, but I actually think there are good mistakes to make, particularly if you know it's not going to crush you. In truth, you probably shouldn't even consider the Moabs if losing the shipping fee is going to become a nightmare scenario for you. They are a pain in the a*** to move, for sure.
So, I started my Moabs on the diet of an amp that really is an amazing find for the dollars: the Nuforce STA200 - 80wpc. It's not Raven level, I'm sure, although I don't really know what a Raven sounds like. Also, Raven is out of order on their low end integrateds, yet they claim they will be catching up soon.
In terms of the Nuforce, for all of $500, I imagine it would be nearly impossible to beat. It can easily run the Moabs with peaks into the low 90db range, without difficulty. I've hit brief peaks in brief listening bursts of 98db without much trouble, either. Still, I'm finding it very difficult to reconcile the claim that the Moabs, or other speakers, are producing 98db out of one watt. The knob is considerably up on the dial by the time you are hitting 98db (peaks), so it certainly looks like much more than 1 watt consumption. Either way, the Nuforce was and is wonderful, and the $500 is icing for the likes of a deal-seeking-guy like myself. Nevertheless, I did run into some (potentially significant) heat issues when pushing the amp, and I've written elsewhere about how hot the amp became when pumping Lorde's "Royals," which I understand is fairly unique in its outstanding bass demands.
Subsequently, I decided to go class D, with another well reviewed high value amp, the XTZ 300w channel into 4ohms amp. They run cool. They have big bass. They are clean, low noise floor, good sense of instrument definition. They also seem to torque, in degrees, some of the sound images. I learned something about how I process new products with the XTZ, because initially I was attracted to what came through as "differences" in the sound, yet I subsequently found out that those differences were not necessarily positive. For instance, hand claps stuck out initially, but then I found that they were less authentic, more plastic. Vocals came through as though in box, or a room that is too absorptive. I had some feeling that the box quality may have indicated the impacts of the recording space, so this seemed like a good thing at the first. However, with the Nuforce, voices were more full, free from the box, natural. I sent the XTZ back after a full month of play - they offer a 30-day trial. It was a good experiment.
I'm now three days into the Schiit Aegir, another value item. Lovely rich sound - has lifted microdynamics into the soundstage that I never really noticed before, voices have more shape, piano keys are much more fully formed. I'm only three days in and have yet to return to the Nuforce for comparison, but I'm loving what I'm hearing thus far. I'm not wild about the heat, but I'm running two small USB fans that do a decent job of dispelling more than half the heat load.
My main complaint is that I'm running the Saga+ pre-amp, a passive pre, to about 80% of its volume, while hitting peaks in the upper 80db range. I'm not really one to do a lot of blasting, so I won't be running with 85-90 continuous and expecting 95-100 db peaks very often, but there will be times when I want to do this... So, where am I, in terms of this goal... it's weird to make another purchase only to find out that you are already thinking about where to go next, but I am... concerned about the limits here... First, why can't I get my 98 db for 1 watt efficiency from these speakers? To be clear, my room is 14.5x12 and I'm 8' from the speakers, which themselves are about 8' apart. The room has plenty of furniture, so I'm sure there is some absorption. Ceilings are 11' high at the center peak.
So, my questions:
First, why is it so hard to achieve 98db on the Moabs without pushing my amps to their limits? Does this have implications for the various amp suggestions people are making for these speakers?
Second, what role, in terms of increasing db at a set volume, would an active pre play here? I'm curious as to how a Freya, or others, might interact with the amp and the speakers...
Third, what problems am I looking at, for both the speakers and the amp, by running the volume mostly at 75-85%, and up to 100% some of the time? By the way, I have not attempted a 100% expression of the amps power with the Moabs - should I?
I'm hoping this offers some useful reflection on the path of the Moabs, with perhaps the semi-value-oriented consumer in mind.