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Re: Loudspeakers for ur-quattro (car audio dribble)
"...He hooks that little speaker directly to his very powerful home audio amp and holds it in his hand at us. And, you know what... It sounded AMAZING! He then told us how you can make ordinary speakers sound extraordinary by running the right amp (some amps are bright, others are mellow, etc) and giving it a lot of juice. Think about it. Speakers are important, but without enough power, what's the point. You may end up killing them!"
This is a bit of an oversimplification. Obviously, the sound of speakers is limited by the source and amplification. But, even though a crappy speaker may sound better with better amplification, it's still going to be limited by the tradeoffs that were made by the manufacturer to get it to that price point. The better amplifier will likely be more revealing as well, and may highlight some flaws in the speaker you didn't notice before. As you start getting into more expensive speakers the law of diminishing returns definitely kicks in, but $40 rack system speakers are never really going to sound good.
More speakers _are_ killed by lower powered amps then higher powered amps, but it is perfectly fine to "underpower" speakers. All else being equal, you'll lose some of the dynamics of the music (primarily bass), but you're not going to run into any problems _unless_ you turn the gain up enough that you make your amp clip. Since clipping is audible as distortion and sounds terrible, it's easily avoidable - just listen. If you turn the gain up and your speakers start to distort, turn it down immediately. BTW, there are a number of people who swear by low powered (5-8 watts generally) tube amps, and pay through the nose for the privilege of listening to music using these amps. It all depends on what you're looking for.