Final verdict with amplifier

Hey all,
I recently posted how my Parasound amp wasn't providing much of an improvement on my Klipsch WF-34 speakers, which are rated at 125W RMS, and 300W peak, and my amp being 205W per channel. Most of the responses that I got was that I needed a decent preamp to integrate into my system. Well recently a buddy gave me his old Carver TFM 55 amplifier, rated at 380 Watts per channel 600 Watts mono, so I decided to give it a whirl. I know that I have to be careful cuz that much power could blow the fecal matter out of my speakers. Well I hooked it up BOTH WAYS. It was slightly better on stereo, and mono was a big difference, but even cranked it didn't harm my speakers. why is that? And how is a preamp supposed to help any of that?
I don't know in your particular case but for some reason Carver amps seam to be rated at high power outputs but they don't seam to "sound" that loud. I remember years ago I had one of those Carver 400 "cube" amps hooked up to a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls and I could pretty much turn the volume all the way up with no harmful issues (to the gear, my ears, a different story).
Power handling is not your issue. You can ruin your speakers by unknowingly over driving a twenty watt solid state amplifier into clipping. Most consumer speaker manufactures provide basic amplifier guidelines for optimum performance. In this case your speakers 95dB sensitive is enough to be used with a low 15-75 watt tube amplifier. This will provide a fuller mid bass which, I'm guessing, is the area your trying to improve. Down 3dB @ 50Hz these are not bass heavy speakers and were probably designed to be used with a subwoofer.

While amplifiers do have character of their own the sound of their character is very small compared to the difference the signal it's given by the preamplifier and the source.

You wont damage your speakers unless you drive your amp into clipping. Clipping amp or overdriving the drivers should be easy to hear. Perhaps you could describe what you feel are missing?
Input sensitivity of your amp determines where on the volume dial you're going to reach full output power with most pre-amps which are set to about 1.5 volts of input voltage to achieve full rated output out of your amp at half volume. The lower the sensitivity of your amp, ie: the "higher" the number, the higher you have to turn the volume up to achieve full power. Some amps have such low sensitivity that the pre-amp goes into clipping before full power can be reached. Hence the prior stated scenario. A through the back door safety measure by some amp manufacturers in an effort to reduce warranty claims imo.
Also, speakers are usually underrated for the same reason. They can usually take a lot more power with no problem. As already stated, a clipping amp is what destroys them quite often unnoticed until it's too late whereas over powering will rattle the drivers which is quite noticeable immediately. An uninformed person can easily mistake this for a fault of the amp,ie: clipping.
When a solid state amp clips, any human knows it. It doesn't take a post on audiogon to find out.

Hundreds of watts into a Klipsch speaker, eh? Maybe you should wait until your monsoon season is over, then come back to that particular stadium where you are doing that and try again.
I can't see a Klipsch speaker needing any high power like that, at least the ones I've heard or seen the specs. Bridging any amp never worked for my ears. Don't forget, your doubling basically all of the signal path components. That must be why it always sounds like a downgrade for me. And like mentioned above to little power is a high risk, but both of those amps shouldn't run out of power first, especially the Carver. Any little distortion from the speaker or amp is a warning it's is working past its limits, and something might give. Carver amps that have the tube transfer function usually sound polite, as most are tuned to sound like his well known Silver Seven ~$17k tube amps. That might be why they don't sound as loud.
For the record, you can absolutely damage speakers before driving an amp into clipping, although a distorted amp will get 'em first. Most speakers will handle some quick and clean high powered transient peaks, but any high current amp of 100 watts or so driven at anywhere near peak level will fry all but the sturdiest drivers in a hurry...only pro audio speakers or a few extremely sturdy home speakers with gigantic voice coils and heat dissipation capability can handle serious juice, and that's just not necessary for home stuff.
After further thought, on reading the "it didn't harm my speakers" statement, there is a possibility a little harm could have been done, if you drove them past their design limits. When speakers voice coils get to warm, the varnish insulator breaks down. Also this can damage the copper coil wire itself too. This also could cause a short between the wires, but not easily noticeable, because they may still sound fine, if they're not totally shorted. Also, if done more often, that can further damage the voice coil causing an earlier than normal failure, that may never happen if they're not driven as hard. They can fail in the future with less power do to this. IOW, your taking a risk. Hopefully, no damage was done. Being easier on them should give them a longer life, so can can keep enjoying them.
You keep getting not very good amplifiers with tons of power, way more than your easy to drive speakers need and expect a big difference.

I disagree that preamps are more important than amps. I think they're both important. Although to what degree depends on the components and the rest of the system.

With your fairly easy to drive speakers, you should be looking for quality not power. I'd guess that a good but cheap integrated, perhaps even a lowly Trends T-amplifier, perhaps something from Virtue, a Virtue One would slay anything you've tried so far.
There is a Dayens Ampino asking $450 and a Sansui integrated asking $350 in Solid State Integrated Amplifiers right now. The latter you should ask regarding current restoration status, if the system has been re-capped etc. But both are likely to be clearly superior to your current system (and probably your friends too).
The amp is the heart of your system. No matter what you upgrade or change otherwise, you will always end up listening to your amp, again. I can't believe that Son of Ampzilla is still for sale in the classifieds, recently rebuilt by none other than Mike Bettinger. This amp is 30 years old and will go toe to toe with anything on the planet, current or otherwise