Whole House Audio with a Pioneer Elite VSX-31 - Can't figure out whether an amp can be connected to VSX-31 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-08-2014, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Below is a description of what I am trying to do regarding the whole house audio, along with the equipment I currently have:

 

Our house is wired for sound in 6 rooms (kitchen, dining room, outside deck, living room, office, and basement).  The living room is wired for 6.1 surround sound (I am only using 5.1 at the moment) and the other rooms are wired for stereo (2 speakers each and 10 total)).  The hub for all speakers is in the living room.

 

What I would like to do is to have a “2-zone” system with 5.1 (maybe eventually 7.1) surround sound in the living room and then have the remaining rooms capable of playing music simultaneously.

 

The equipment I currently have:  I have a Pioneer Elite VSX-31 7.1 channel AV receiver with 2-zone capability.  I also have a used Niles SI-1230 12 channel amplifier that i bought on ebay for cheap.

 

It is my understanding that the best way to accomplish what I want to do would be to set up the 5.1 surround in the living room normally and then hook up the SI-1230 to the VSX-31's zone 2 audio output and then connect each room’s speakers to the SI-1230.

 

Here’s the problem:  It is my understanding that it is dangerous to connect an amp to a receiver which does not have a pre-amp output.  It is unclear to me whether the VSX-31 has a pre-amp output to connect to the SI-1230.  The specs for the receiver indicate that it has one pre-amp output.  Looking on the back of the receiver, the subwoofer output is labeled as pre-amp.  No other outputs are specifically labeled as pre-amp.  This seems to suggest I can’t hook up the amplifier. 

 

However, the receiver does have a separate analog output to “zone 2”.  I cannot tell whether this output is pre-amp from either the manual’s specifications or from looking at the back of the receiver. 

 

To complicate things, the receiver’s manual actually indicates that I can configure a zone-2 set up using the zone 2 analog output to an amplifier (it suggests that an amplifier is needed).  This would seem to suggest I am good to go but I am wary of the fact that the specifications do not indicate that the zone 2 output is pre-amp.  Also, the manual seems to be envisioning a 2 channel amplifier and I am trying to hook up a 12 channel amp (I will be using 10 channels at the most and possibly as few as 6).  I don't know if this would make a difference.

 

To complicate things further, the SI-1230 manual indicates that it accepts "line level inputs".  I am a noob at this stuff and I can't figure out whether the zone two audio analog output on the VSX-31 is "line level".  Is line level the same as pre-amp?

 

Help is much appreciated.

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post #2 of 6 Old 04-08-2014, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dks26dave View Post

It is my understanding that the best way to accomplish what I want to do would be to set up the 5.1 surround in the living room normally and then hook up the SI-1230 to the VSX-31's zone 2 audio output and then connect each room’s speakers to the SI-1230.

That's THE way to hook up Zone2...
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Here’s the problem:  It is my understanding that it is dangerous to connect an amp to a receiver which does not have a pre-amp output.  It is unclear to me whether the VSX-31 has a pre-amp output to connect to the SI-1230.  The specs for the receiver indicate that it has one pre-amp output.  Looking on the back of the receiver, the subwoofer output is labeled as pre-amp.  No other outputs are specifically labeled as pre-amp.  This seems to suggest I can’t hook up the amplifier. 

However, the receiver does have a separate analog output to “zone 2”.  I cannot tell whether this output is pre-amp from either the manual’s specifications or from looking at the back of the receiver. 

That is the Zone2 pre-amp output. This is exactly what it is for...
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To complicate things, the receiver’s manual actually indicates that I can configure a zone-2 set up using the zone 2 analog output to an amplifier (it suggests that an amplifier is needed). 

Right. The output is a pre-amplifier output, which goes to an amplifier.
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Also, the manual seems to be envisioning a 2 channel amplifier and I am trying to hook up a 12 channel amp (I will be using 10 channels at the most and possibly as few as 6).  I don't know if this would make a difference.

To complicate things further, the SI-1230 manual indicates that it accepts "line level inputs".  I am a noob at this stuff and I can't figure out whether the zone two audio analog output on the VSX-31 is "line level".  Is line level the same as pre-amp?

Yes, "line level" is the same as "pre-amp". The distinction is that line-level is usually considered a fixed-volume signal, while pre-amp outputs (including the Zone2) are variable-volume based on the volume control.

You'll connect the zone2 output to the Nile amp "bus" input - as you'll want that signal to be shared among all the rooms, which are each connected to their own pair of amplifier channels.

Glad to see that, while you're confused, you actually have everything you need to get it set up correctly!

Jeff

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post #3 of 6 Old 04-08-2014, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Jeff.

 

I'll  file this one under "an incomplete understanding is worse than no understanding at all".

 

If I hadn't done any research at all and just simply read the VSX-31 manual I would have simply followed it and hooked up the Niles to zone 2 as you suggest.

 

Instead, I read all this stuff about the potential danger of connecting two amps together and talked myself out of simply following the manual.

 

I would also like to blame Pioneer (at least a little) for not labeling the zone 2 outs as pre-amp outs (either on the back of the receiver or in the manual)

 

Thanks again!

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post #4 of 6 Old 04-08-2014, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dks26dave View Post

I would also like to blame Pioneer (at least a little) for not labeling the zone 2 outs as pre-amp outs (either on the back of the receiver or in the manual)

For whatever reason the "2nd Zone" support in all the mainstream products seems to get treated as a "checkmark" spec item (meaning, you need it to compete, but not a frequently used feature), and thrown into the "advanced topics" part of the docs. Which ends up being the dumping ground for "stuff most folks don't use" and therefore not given enough attention...

The other issue is that since the AVR companies don't generally have a "properly positioned" external amp to use for Zone2 purposes - they don't have a strong story to tell and promote the feature...

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post #5 of 6 Old 04-08-2014, 08:06 PM
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Many receivers these days have fixed-volume line-level Zone 2 outputs. It's something to watch out for in certain situations--it has bitten me in the tail on a few installs where we had just a power amp with no on-board volume control powering Zone 2 from a receiver's line level outs.
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-09-2014, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cshepard View Post

Many receivers these days have fixed-volume line-level Zone 2 outputs. It's something to watch out for in certain situations--it has bitten me in the tail on a few installs where we had just a power amp with no on-board volume control powering Zone 2 from a receiver's line level outs.

Really? Wow... And it wasn't a configuration option in the menu? That messes up the whole zone2 control methods using the AVR's app or IR... Specific brand that's doing this?

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