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Will it damage the speakers or amp if I connect non-matching speakers to it?

For example:

  • a Paradigm speaker (7seMk3) to the left channel (it's tweeter doesn't work, but the 2 woofers are nice and bassy),
  • and a smaller Akai 40W speaker to the right channel (with a working tweeter and woofer, but they do not give a good amount of bass).

Aside from giving unbalanced sound, can this cause any other issues?

(At this point, I have a low-end Fisher amp from the 1980s, or a even lower-end consumer JVC sound-system that I can connect them to.)

  • Since I'm new to audio, it would be helpful to know why you are down-voting my answer and how it can be improved, instead of what appears as a hit-and-run – Baumr Apr 9 '14 at 16:05
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    I suspect the down-votes are from 'Sound Design' purists - this question is a generic 'audio' question rather than relating directly to sound design. However, I don't know of an Audio.SE site, so this is probably the best place for your question. – user7461 Apr 10 '14 at 7:25
  • Sorry Baumr, normally I actually do comment when down-voting but I guess I was in a hurry when I initially did. The reason is that this appears to be home/personal audio oriented rather than professional sound. Sound design is targeted at sound designers and professional audio (such as studio monitoring or mastering). Based on speaker selection, this appears to be a home listening setup rather than a reference studio, so it is probably off topic. Home audio was previously off topic on both SSD and AVP. – AJ Henderson Apr 23 '14 at 15:41
  • @AJHenderson, thanks for replying and clarifying. I appreciate that some folks have high-end speaker systems, but others may not. Down-voting questions based on what speakers a person has available to them feels off-putting – Baumr Apr 23 '14 at 17:36
  • @Baumr - it isn't about the quality of the speakers so much as the use case. If it was misunderstood and this is actually for a recording studio setup, then you may want to clarify that in the question. We get a lot of home theater/home listening questions that are not on topic and if the question isn't clear, we have to make a judgement call as to which it appears. Sometimes we guess wrong, but the best way to avoid it is don't make us guess. :) – AJ Henderson Apr 23 '14 at 18:01
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From the point of view of the amplifier, all it cares about are the relative impedances (electrical resistance) of the two speakers.

If they have very different impedances the amplifier could potentially end up driving more power down the lower impedance channel than the higher impedance channel - This may mean a 100W amp (for example) would be driving one speaker with 55W and the other with 45W (though it's unlikely to be that unbalanced).

As the amp is relatively old, there's probably two completely separate signal paths through the amp, with separate electrical (rather than electronic) amplification on each channel - the left channel will act exactly as if you had a matched pair of 7seMk3's, and the right channel will act exactly as if you had a matched pair of Akai 40W's. The two channels are sharing a common power source, so this is where the uneven power distribution, as above, would come in.

From the point of view of the speakers, they may get a little more or less than half the amplifier's power, but provided the amount of power if within their input tolerance, they would not suffer.

As for actually listening to anything on your system, I hope your amp has a 'balance' control. For line-up, ignore the bass - that's not used heavily for localisation of sound - aim for a centred human voice to sound centred, and you'll probably be fine. Having a tweeter on only one side might be a bit weird, but I'm sure you'll get used to it!

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