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Dual Zone - why so complicated?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am in the process of buying an A/V system for a cottage and I have what I imagine is a common situation for which I have not been able to find a simple solution. I figured that if anyone knows an answer to this dilemma it will be here on AVS.

I am looking to have a home theatre set up (pretty standard) in the media room as well as outdoor speakers run to my back deck. I would like the two areas to operate as separate zones (both able to be used at the same time). Seems simple enough... The catch, I would like to be able to play any of my audio sources (and specifically my Sat TV and Apple TV) on both the primary and secondary zone. I have tried this in my home system with no luck as the second zone only accepts analogue sources. I figured that would be a quirk of my older Amp but my reading here suggests this is not the case.

Is there a simple solution to this that I am missing? Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks. HC22.
post #2 of 14
Better than 95% of AVRs on the market today can only pass analog audio to Zone 2 so the easiest solution is to simply connect an analog RCA cable (in addition to the HDMI cable) from the device to the AVR.

Another option, if your AVR has Front B speaker posts, and you can live with the same audio as is playing in the main zone, is to connect the deck speakers to the Front B speaker post. This configuration will allow you to play any source playing in the main zone to the deck speakers.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick and helpful reply. I think this will work for the Sat TV but not the Apple TV as it has only has HDMI and optical audio out (which I assume is digital) I believe...

Thanks. HC22.
post #4 of 14
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Wow! The rings you can learn in a few minutes here on AVS. Thanks again, I will pick one of these up and see how I do. Thanks.
post #6 of 14
I was hoping to do the same as you mentioned for the addition I am building soon. I am a newbie so let me ask.... What does it mean "analog" only in the second zone? Say the kids are watching a movie in the room (5.1) what sources of music can I listen to on my back porch? Could I not play something from my iTunes? Thanks!
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am by no means an expert in this space but I can tell you how it works on my current receiver (Yamaha XVR-667). You can use the powered second zone at the same time as the first. In Zone 1 you can play any medium (ie. watch your 5.1 movie). In Zone 2 you can only play things that attach to the receiver with an RCA connection. My PVR works because I can run RCA cables from it to Zone 2 while also running the HDMI to the receiver in Zone 1. Same is true for cd player, xbox etc. For Apple TV (how I use iTunes ) there is no analogue option (hence the need for the adapter suggested above that I was not aware of). If you can output sound from any device via RCA you would be able to play it in the second zone while you do whatever you choose in the first zone. Hopefully this helps. HC22
post #8 of 14
I think I follow that so far but if you use the adapter to convert your Apple TV to analog you are suck with analog quality in the main room as well correct? Major drawback for me. I don't mind the lower quality on the deck but inside music listening would bug me! Thanks!
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicpunk78 View Post

I think I follow that so far but if you use the adapter to convert your Apple TV to analog you are suck with analog quality in the main room as well correct? Major drawback for me. I don't mind the lower quality on the deck but inside music listening would bug me! Thanks!


Well, you can't listen directly to the digital stream, so it has to get converted to analog somewhere. Whether that's in an outboard device besxt to your receiver or inside your receiver may not make much difference, although I probably just invited 50 pages of argument about the relative merits of different digital to analog converter chips and whether any differences are audible etc. etc. To me, the bigger drawback in the main space would be that I can't use Audyssey on something coming into the receiver via analog. I can't recall right now whether I could even bass manage. Maybe not since it's done in the digital arena AFAIK. SO no sub for 2 channel, no ability to use the Audyssey corrections, no ability to turn the 2 channel into 5 channel in main space if you're into that kind of thing.

As to the question of why it's complicated, I suspect it's economics. To reliably take SpDIF or HDMI output and send it to zone 2 requires a whole separate dolby digital/DTS conversion decoder to turn the incoming stream to a separate PCM stream if it's not already, with separate downmix, so that you get a 2 channel, not just the front left and right of a 5 channel mix (which would miss all the dialog, etc.) Then you need a totally separate digital converter to run the other zones. In a business as price driven as mainstream AVRs, adding those functions likely has too much effect on price. Plus, they need to, for marketing reasons, reserve SOME tricks to the higher end devices . . .
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicpunk78 View Post

I think I follow that so far but if you use the adapter to convert your Apple TV to analog you are suck with analog quality in the main room as well correct? Major drawback for me. I don't mind the lower quality on the deck but inside music listening would bug me! Thanks!

If you are listening to typical iTunes music with its lossy AAC or MP3 compression, doing the digital-to-analog conversion in the outboard converter vs the receiver's converter is not going to make a dent in the quality that's already been lost.

'Analog" is not automatically "lower quality" that you are "stuck with."
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicpunk78 View Post

I think I follow that so far but if you use the adapter to convert your Apple TV to analog you are suck with analog quality in the main room as well correct? Major drawback for me. I don't mind the lower quality on the deck but inside music listening would bug me! Thanks!

You should be able to pass the HDMI audio to the main zone while passing the optical-->analog to Zone 2.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post


If you are listening to typical iTunes music with its lossy AAC or MP3 compression, doing the digital-to-analog conversion in the outboard converter vs the receiver's converter is not going to make a dent in the quality that's already been lost.

'Analog" is not automatically "lower quality" that you are "stuck with."

Good point. I understand iTunes downloads are stuck in this lossy format but I was planning on redoing my CD collection in lossless. The future may not look bright so this is probably a moot point not worth worrying about! Thanks!!
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicpunk78 View Post


Good point. I understand iTunes downloads are stuck in this lossy format but I was planning on redoing my CD collection in lossless. The future may not look bright so this is probably a moot point not worth worrying about! Thanks!!

Even if you do, redbook audio is not something an analog connection can't reproduce. There's nothing really special about 44.1kHz/16bit sampling anymore.

The Monoprice D/A is the perfect solution for your Zone 2/aTV situation, especially at the price.
post #14 of 14
Quote:

I use this so I can play my AppleTV over wireless speakers for Zone 2 - and it works great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicpunk78 View Post

I think I follow that so far but if you use the adapter to convert your Apple TV to analog you are suck with analog quality in the main room as well correct? Major drawback for me. I don't mind the lower quality on the deck but inside music listening would bug me! Thanks!

Not the case for me... On my AVR I have HDMI selected as the audio source from the AppleTV in the main room and I have the "Zone 2" for that particular input set to be the analog stereo input where I have the adapter plugged in.
I believe that most AVRs let you choose what audio source it uses for a given "source" - so I think it should be fine.
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