Originally Posted by DanielG
Thanks! Your comments once again are extremely helpful - as you can tell, I am quite far down on the learning curve at this point.
Sorry for the delay in responding. While I enjoy answering questions for which I know the answer, quite often I spend time with my HT system instead of being on AVS
My guess is that I will need either a switcher or matrix. Maybe the benefit of the matrix is that I think the good ones also distribute the audio over the HDMI as well as the video and a switcher wouldn't???
Audio is sent over HDMI cabling on the same wires as the video but during the "vertical retrace interval". Switchers and matrix units both should pass through whatever the source devices provide. In some cases they might include amplifiers and equalizers to improve signal quality when long cable runs are involved.
Is it possible to use the first HDMI out directly to my primary tv and the second HDMI out for the main zone for the switcher to get the main video feed to whichever other area of the house that I may want it? Seems like that could work and then it is just a question of getting the audio there. I also will have a separate AV receiver for my bedroom zone and so would just need to run a feed from the processor to that receiver somehow in full (perhaps from the second HDMI output and let that receiver do all the work for that zone. For the other zones with small tvs and stereo in-wall speakers perhaps the switcher and analog two channel for zones 2/3 would be fine... Luckily I don't care much about the quality of the video/audio to two of my four zones and so maybe a switcher attached to the second output would work Not sure if any of this makes sense.
Be careful with your terminology. A switcher has multiple inputs driving a single output. A splitter has one input and drives multiple outputs. I don't think a simple splitter will work by itself the way you want because of the downgrading of the audio and video by the player device to match whatever you have in the remote room. For example, if the splitter is connected to one of the main zone "monitor" outputs and you're watching a Blu-ray disc on a remote 720p stereo TV, the Blu-ray player will downgrade its output to 720p stereo. If you're watching it at the same time in the main zone, that's all the main zone will get, too, even if it has a 1080p projector with a 7.2 speaker configuration. (e.g. maybe you're watching a movie and someone has to go to another room but wants to continue watching it.)
Can the matrix input be attached to one of the main 8801 HDMI outputs and so I only need a matrix with 1 or probably 2 inputs and then 4 outputs though not sure they make less than a 4x4. How much would a solid high quality HDMI matrix run? $300? $600? Seems like some online are $150-250 and others are well over $1k.
Given the complexity of your desired configuration, I really think you need to discuss it in the whole-house av distribution forum. I have simply not thought about such a layout and can't provide the kinds of answers you need. For example, people there should be able to tell you which HDMI switches work best and how to avoid problems that they've encountered in similar situations.