Is there a way to switch one set of speakers between two sound systems?

This may seem nutty at first, but it's been suggested as an unorthodox solution to a tricky configuration problem.  Before dismissing it out of hand, I thought it'd be worth asking for constructive feedback on Audiogon.

Is there any way to switch a single set of speakers between two different amplifiers without compromising sonics?  Switching would be done often, so the mechanism would have to be easy -- preferably with a remote or the twist of a dial or even done automatically by sensing input signals, and definitely not involving moving cables.

If this is confusing, here's a simplified example: A listening room contains two systems, one solid-state, one with tubed components.  A single stereo speaker system has only one set of inputs.  Is there any product or configuration method that would like the speakers to seamlessly reproduce signals generated by either system.  Since the two amps would never be playing simultaneously, the speakers might merely play any signal that reaches them, like MartinLogan subs, which  automatically play any signal received at any of their three inputs.

I understand that a “simple” 2-to-1 junction box would not be so simple in an audiophile environment, especially when routing amplified signals from components that might have greatly different output-stage characteristics. 

Any ideas?


Build your own box.

Use a real pretty copper knife switch on top of the box such that one half is spkr A and the opposite side is speaker B.  "And never the twain shall meet"!




Or the cheap route.. get some BioWare cables from Blue Jeans with one end to the speakers and splitting the signal at the amps. It called quite ad star or something similar 

Hello cundare2!  Are you a DIYer? It is easy to make a switch box using a heavy duty, 4 pole double throw (4PDT) 12 volt relay. Does one of your amps have a mini phone plug output for turning on other equipment? If so, it's a simple thing. Get the heaviest duty, continuous duty, relay you can find, capable of switching at least 10 amp loads. Perhaps something with "mercury wetted" contacts for 30 amps or so. You will be adding connectors for both amps and the speakers, so some degradation in the signal quality is likely. The heavier current the relay is rated at (contact wise) the less likely it will hurt the signal. You need to find barrier strips or contacts not made of ferrous metals. Brass, copper, bronze is better; ditto for the internal wire. The movable (switching) contacts are connected to the speakers. The non moving terminals are connected to each of the amps. Whichever amp has the "turn on" outlet powers the coil of the relay. So there are 14 terminals on the relay to connect: four for each amp and four for the speakers and two for the coil. Use the Normally Open (N.O.) contacts for the amp with the mini phone plug output. The Normally Closed terminals go to the other amp. When the Amp with the mini phone plug output (switching other equipment) is on, the relay will close the normally open contacts and connect that amp to the speakers. When that amp is off (not on standby) the other amp is connected to the speakers thru the Normally Closed contacts. If you need a circuit diagram, contact me. The big deal is to use non-ferrous connectors. Any kind will do: banana plugs, spade lugs and barrier strips, etc. Happy listening!

boomerbillone: Yes, I used to be a hobbyinst, building, updating, & restoring tube gear & electrostatic speakers.  But I'm afraid that I"m too old for that now.  The last time I held a soldering iron, my hands were simply too shaky to work safely.

"Surrender the things of youth"