Have some time to still be swayed one way or the other, but it seems that the best 2 AVRs to choose from for me are the Denon X4000 and the Onkyo 929. They both are in the price range that I want to stay in (both are $1,299) and both can be covered for 4 years for $135 (therefore I am not that worried about either unit failing). They both posses Audyssey XT32 and while the 929 is 9.2 and rated higher in wattage the Denon (I believe) has a somewhat more advanced eq system. I do have the ability to use my B&K AV5000 seriesII amp if there is a need and an additional 2 channel amp from Adcom that could power the the separate zones.
Right now I am demoing a Pioneer sc67 which is 9.2 and can run my set-up including the separate zones without having to use any other amps. I have noticed no difference in power and sq vs my old Pioneer sc25 which is bad and good. The sound quality with Pioneer is uncontrolled with my current arrangement (messy bass) and I'm hoping that Audyssey will clean that up, yet there definately seems to be enough power.
I currently run a 5.1 set-up in a challenging room that has vaulted ceilings that opens up to the kitchen. My speaker line-up is; Sonus Faber Grand Piano front 3 (6ohm), Klipsch dipoles (8ohm), and a huge SVS pb-12 plus2 subwoofer. Using a 60"LG plasma, sony Blueray, apple tv, direct tv hd dvr, sony ps 3, and a wii (and new to the line-up Chromecast).