Originally Posted by CentralCoaster
Amp has 7 channels. Can do 5.1 in zone1, and the other 2 channels go to either zone 2 OR 3 (or mono in both).
OK, so at least you understand that. I wouldn't consider that a "limitation" but rather a self-evident fact. You bought a seven channel receiver. Two stereo zones would require four amp channels, and four plus five (for a 5.1 setup in main zone) equals NINE. If you want to run two extra stereo zones then you need additional amplification, expecting a 7 channel receiver to run 9 channels of content isn't realistic.
You can send pre-out stereo to zone2 and zone 3, but only from analog inputs. This is fine EXCEPT when playing a HDMI source in zone 2 (the entire point of this receiver). The audio is way out of sync, the analog audio gets there faster than the hdmi video, even in game mode. Even if it could sync, the TV won't play HDMI video and analog audio at the same time
Yes, this is an unfortunate design choice. The higher level 4520ci splits the HDMI matrix output into its own zone (Zone 4) so the two stereo analog zones are separate. The best bet, if your primary use is piping the HDMI Zone 2 to another TV, is to then feed the additional speakers straight from the TV or from a cheaper second receiver in that other zone. That would also resolve the dual-stereo issue as the two extra amps could now do dedicated stereo Zone 3.
Ok... then, let's pass audio through the HDMI zone2 output. The receiver will not do this while zone1 is getting amplified.
This part doesn't seem right to me. You should be able to do whatever you want in Main Zone while passing the HDMI signal to Zone 2. Can you describe this part more specifically?
Oh.... and if you're watching the same source in zone 1 and zone 2, it downscales the audio and video to the weakest setup. Does this mean I'd only get mono in zone1 when someone turns on the tv in zone2 to the same source?
This is a limitation of HDMI itself, not the receiver. You would get the same thing if you used a simple HDMI matrix splitter/switch. The HDMI handshake requires all devices in the chain to "talk" to each other and authenticate their capabilities (EDID info). If an HDMI source is split to two different HDMI "sinks", and one sink reports that it can accept 1080p signals but the other source reports that it can only accept up to 1080i signals, the source will automatically reduce its output resolution to 1080i so it is compatible with the HDMI sinks. Same thing with multich vs. stereo audio.
Not sure what you mean with mono audio. No source outputs mono audio. Worst case, if playing the same HDMI source in Main Zone and the HDMI Zone 2, the source would reduce output to stereo to be compatibly with both zones. Adding a cheap HDMI receiver to the second HDMI zone would resolve this as then both zones would be capable of receiving multich audio over HDMI.