I have been reading for a while and the more I learn I think the more I become confused with what I actually need. I'll try and give you a little info on what I am working with. I am currently building a new home which will have a surround system in the great room with two in ceiling speakers for rear left/right, two patio speakers, and two speakers up in the loft which may eventually be its own 5.1 but for now will just play music upstairs. I am looking at cheaper speakers (monoprice) for the patio and loft and a little better speaker for the in ceiling in the great room which will be surround and music (should be ok right?).
I am looking at the Onkyo TX-NR616, Denon avr-2113, or Sony DN-1030 because they are all in the right price range and have some of the features I am looking for. Not entirely set on any of them but looking to be in the 300-450 price range for the receiver. With some of the following options: Wireless (or cheap addition like the Onkyo usb $25), 2 zones, good apple remote app, play music off of phone or wireless network with ease, good sound (I know I know), ability to upgrade and integrate further in the future.
What I'm a little stuck on is how exactly does the multi zone music work. Can I play music through the 5.1 surround in the great room as well as in the separate zone (patio/loft) which will have their own volume control knobs in the wall, or am I stuck playing music on either the great room (surround) or Zone 2 (patio/loft).
Airplay, is it worth it to get a receiver with it already or is buying a $99 apple TV a better and more efficient option for streaming and airplay?
I'm just looking for a solid system that I can watch movies with good surround and play music through the house with ease on the weekends and be fairly easy to upgrade throughout the years as this is my first time "building" a HTS.