This little house we've bought has a small home theatre nook - which is pre-wired for pretty straight-forward 5.1 surround. My existing Onkyo AVR (or equivalent, if I decide to upgrade) drops in there neatly to power everything adequately.
Then, there are two speakers in the kitchen, two in the dining room, and two in the playroom - and then stereo wiring from all six of those drops down to a cabinet on the other side of the house, with each room having its own on-wall passive volume control. And then there's stereo wiring that runs the length of the house from the home theatre area over to that same cabinet.
So, conceptually, it seems all I need is some sort of amplifier with a couple stereo inputs that can power the six ceiling speakers (JBL SP8CIIs). When I look at multi-channel amplifiers, it seems all I find are these ~$1000 amps with all sorts of multi-room audio features meant for sending different sources to different rooms with different levels, etc. Then, I look at the AV receivers...and if I buy a cheap 7.1 AVR for ~$300, it seems as though I can just connect the six speakers to L/R/Lsurr/Rsurr/Lback/Rback and power them that way? It just seems silly to have all the inputs I don't need - like the HDMI - plus all the various digital processing technologies just to power six speakers with the same input.
Or is there a far simpler solution I'm not seeing? I do need to be able to easily switch between two inputs, at least - the input from the home theatre nook and, say, an Airport Express for streaming audio from iTunes. Would be nice if it had input auto-sensing, as well, and went to sleep when not receiving a signal....