Originally Posted by rogersmj
[*] First off, how does this all look?
IMO I don't think trying to get folks to learn how auto-switching works, especially with multiple priorities and zone-specific behavior is in any way easier than just using source selection. Besides, they really are selecting sources at each AVR (Zone2 output).
One real issue I see is that if Zone2 is turned off in the basement, the basement speakers are going to be playing whatever is being used in the rest of the house. Which means they'll likely be turned down/off most of the time anyway.
I'd suggest looking at a keypad-based whole house audio system like the HTD MCA-66, which have simple source selection buttons (individual buttons, not a cycle-through 'source'). Feed the output(s) from set-top boxes to provide "TV audio" as a source, as well as an Airport Express. Although I'd also suggest using a Sonos Connect as a source instead of an Airport Express, as it will be easier to use.
Setting those up as sources, and having individual source selection in each zone, is also more flexible, so *they* can adjust everything individually, instead of being restricted to a fixed prioritization that can't easily change as they live with the system...
[*] Receivers with actual line outs for zone 2, as opposed to amped/powered zone 2, seem to be hard to find at a reasonable price (really want to keep costs under control). What should I do to ensure I get a clean signal to the amp from the receiver? Is there any sort of inexpensive "normalizer" that can take an amped input and make it line-level? Or am I missing something, like can receivers with powered zone 2s be set to send line level signals?
Again, route sources to the system, or use fixed outputs from an AVR. But starting from scratch, for a 6+ zone setup, you'd be better off putting the money into a WHA system than several multi-zone AVRs. Cost probably comes out very similar when you total up all the pieces.