I don't know if I'm in what I'd call a similar situation... but here's what I've got to offer from the fruits of my research (I think this is going in a direction that Neurorad alluded to towards the end of his post):
My Situation: I have many old speakers (older bookshelf-power-level type speaker) lying around and want to get them up (in wall) in various 'zones' of the house. I have various sources of sound I'd like to be able to choose from but I'm not picky if it's digital or analog ... as the components I want to drive the sound have various options (ex. Directv receiver with TOSLINK/SPDIF as well as rca component out that I believe are both 'active' at all times).
I've checked out On-Q LYRIQ Cat 5 systems since I'm a bit of a Cat5 junkie but even fairly older models are $300+ (ebay) to get into the solution and would have to spend more on additional components to get multiple inputs into the system.
I think I've settled into the following approach: Buy a Sherwood RX-5502 receiver for like $125 bucks. Some functions are quite basic but may be bells and whistles enough to be what I need:
- old school (phono jack label? me likey) ...
- all inputs are RCA component
- no ability to change or customize the input display from 'phono, cd' etc
we're definitely not switching HDMI and stuff like that with this receiver
- 100 watts x 4 in Multi-room mode (so I'm presuming this is strong enough for sending music, tv throughout the home to listen to... as opposed to dance to if you know what I mean)
- It can run 4 separate speaker pairs separately by design... using remote or at receiver. You can essentially toggle through selection of 1 to all 4 speakers running at a given time
- Audio sources can be split into 2 'zones': a Room 1 (speaker pair A,B) and a Room 2 (speaker pair C,D)
- Looks like a simple to use remote which will help my wife/kids a lot
So, for me where I need 4 speaker pairs in 2 'zones' (Zone 1 = a garage set of speakers, and a back deck... places where I don't mind that the source will always be the same for those 2... AND Zone 2 = kitchen, upstairs great room... places where I don't mind that the source will always be the same) this seems to work and is low cost of entry.
I'm looking into Wall Mount Impedance Matching Speaker Slide Volume Control Switches to see if using those would allow me to
A) manipulate sound level independently in each zone or at each speaker pair
B) allow me to add a couple more spare speakers in some other areas of the home.
That of course starts jacking up cost to where some other approach might make more sense
If anyone has experience with the impedance matching speaker switches (neurorad?)... or any other feedback on above.... I'd greatly appreciate a referral to some info, a better idea, or a quick tutorial