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n00b question - What type of receiver do I need - multi room

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
My wife and I just purchased a home. The living room is pre-wired with speakers in the ceiling. There are 2 speakers in the front of the room and 2 speakers in the back of the room. I assume this is a 5.1 system, but they took the sub and center channel speakers when they left. The home also has feeds to the front and back porches (2 speakers at both front and back) where there are wires exposed (they took all 4 outdoor speakers with them as well). I have never owned a stereo before, so I am totally confused about what I need. From what I have read I believe that I need a 5.1 system with zone 2 out.

I called Crutchfield and they recommended the Denon AVR-2312CI. It's a $600 receiver. I have seen receivers with good reviews as low as $200 on amazon. The Onkyo TX-NR515 is the #1 seller on Amazon, has zone 2 and is 7.1 (I can still use it in 5.1 setting correct?), and it's selling for $329. The Denon AVR-2312CI has airplay, which would be nice, but I can also hook up an Apple TV to the Onkyo and do the same thing. I have also read that playing digital content to zone 2 can be problematic, so airplay to zone 2 doesn't work anyway, but with an apple TV, you can use the analogue out to play to zone 2.

I read that Yamaha offers a feature that lets you play the same music in both the main zone and zone 2 called "party mode." Is this unique to Yamaha, or do the other brands also offer this under a different title?

Since I have never owned a stereo, I don't know the difference between brands. Is the Denon a significantly nicer receiver than the Onkyo or Yamaha? Are there any other receivers you would recommend for my situation?

Any feedback would be welcome, as I said I am totally new to home theater setup.
post #2 of 28
What you have at present is a 4.0 setup in the main zone unless you add a center speaker and sub to make it 5.1. What you'll want to look for is either a 5.1 AVR with Zone 2 pre-outs (which needs an external 2CH amp to power the Zone 2 speakers) or a 7.1 setup that can do 5.1+Zone 2 (which most/if not all can). What you buy will of course depend on your budget, the suggested Denon 2312CI offers a much better version of Audyssey Auto EQ then the Onkyo 515, although the Onkyo will still sound good with ceiling mounted speakers. Although these lower level models cannot pass any digital audio to Zone 2, that does not include the on board audio (ie. internet radio and Airplay) which will pass to Zone 2. Although an ATV will provide the Airplay feature, it would need to be connected with an optical--> analog converter to the AVR. AFAIK, the Yamaha "Party mode" feature is only offered on the mid level Aventage models (ie. A1XX, A2XX, and A3XX). Some new models are coming out with an HDMI (Zone 2) feature such as the Denon 3313CI, although again MSRP $1100.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
If I get a receiver with zone 2 output, could I use a Y cable to split the pre-out and use two LP-2020A+ Lepai Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifiers (http://www.amazon.com/LP-2020A-Lepai-Tripath-Class-T-Amplifier/dp/B0049P6OTI/ref=zg_bs_537344_1) to power the 2 speakers on the front and back porches?

I have seen a few 3 zone systems, but they are very expensive. I don't need to play 3 sources at once, if I can play the same source on the front and back porch simultaneously I will be happy. Alternatively, I could use a 4 channel amp to drive the front and back porch speakers, but most of the ones I have seen are 2 channel, which requires a splitter and two amps.
post #4 of 28
Yes, that would likely work. If you wanted to expand beyond 2 extra zones, you could use a multi zone impedance matching speaker selector coupled with a better amp such as the one below ...

http://www.amazon.com/AudioSource-AMP-100-Stereo-Power-Amplifier/dp/B00026BQJ6
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Since 4 speakers will be outside, will I need to put any kind of buffer between my receiver and the speaker? Meaning is there a product similar to a surge protector that should be placed between the two.
post #6 of 28
No, just determine whether the outdoor speakers are designed to be placed in the open air or must be under protected cover.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
I noticed there is an additional speaker in the kitchen ceiling, so that makes 5 speakers in zone 2.

Would this: Monoprice 6-Channel Speaker Selector
coupled with this: http://www.amazon.com/AudioSource-AMP-100-Stereo-Power-Amplifier/dp/B00026BQJ6
be a good solution for the 5 speakers in zone 2 or would I need a more powerful amp?

I assume this would be hooked up: Zone 2 Pre-amp line out from Receiver -> AMP -> Multi Speaker Selector -> Speaker.

Thanks again for the help!
post #8 of 28
A "channel" consists of 2 speakers (L/R) for stereo audio, so the 4 CH speaker selector I linked to will handle up to 8 speakers. To connect the kitchen speaker to the speaker selector, ensure it has 2 sets of connections (ie. stereo speaker).
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, the kitchen only has 1 speaker, so it will be mono in there. Will that require a different type of speaker selector or some sort of adapter?
post #10 of 28
Have you confirmed that the kitchen speaker is mono (only 1 set of +/- connections) as it can also be a stereo speaker (ie. 2 sets of +/- connections)?
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
The speaker in the kitchen does take both left and right inputs as you suspected, so my last question is mute.

I'm on the fence between a few receivers Onkyo NR515, Onkyo NR616, and the Denon 2312CI? Both Onkyo's have powered outputs for zone 2. Would I need to use an external amp for the other zone speakers if I use the powered output?
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Would the audio out on the Yamaha rx-v373 be capable of supplying audio input to a
AudioSource AMP-100 Stereo Power Amplifier? I realize in this configuration I would not be able to play multiple sources at once since this isn't a multi-zone receiver, but would it be possible to use the out here to supply the amp with audio in and play the same source through the other zones?
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by av22201 View Post

The speaker in the kitchen does take both left and right inputs as you suspected, so my last question is mute.
I'm on the fence between a few receivers Onkyo NR515, Onkyo NR616, and the Denon 2312CI? Both Onkyo's have powered outputs for zone 2. Would I need to use an external amp for the other zone speakers if I use the powered output?

If you just listen at background music only volumes in both the main zone and the other rooms, you likely won't have to use an external amp, rather simply connect the 4 zone impedance matching speaker selector directly to the powered Zone 2 amps. Note also that you don't have to go as high as the 2312CI, as the 1912 also features powered Zone 2 speaker posts as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by av22201 View Post

Would the audio out on the Yamaha rx-v373 be capable of supplying audio input to a
AudioSource AMP-100 Stereo Power Amplifier? I realize in this configuration I would not be able to play multiple sources at once since this isn't a multi-zone receiver, but would it be possible to use the out here to supply the amp with audio in and play the same source through the other zones?

Yes; however, the "Audio Out" most likely will only output analog audio sources connected to the 373 (ie. no HDMI sources will pass).
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Looking at the Denon AVR-1912, it looks like the zone 2 is the "Surround Back/Amp Assign" output. I don't see a pre-amp out other than the subwoofer. Would I still be able to use an amp with the 1912 if I wanted to listen at higher volumes in the other zone?
post #15 of 28
No Zone 2 pre-outs on the 1912, rather you would need to upgrade to the 2112CI if you wanted that option. My point however, is that unless there is a specific feature on the 2312CI that you need, the 2112CI will more than suffice. If you haven't done it already, suggest you read the first few posts in the Denon AVR-XX12 Owner's thread (linked in my sig) which shows a comparison of the various models to determine whether you really need the 2312CI. Also note you'll likely get a better deal if you "call" AVS sales or Electronics Expo, although as the XX12 models are on clearance they are becoming harder to find.
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tip. I'm leaning towards the Denon 2112 after reading batpig's advice on the Official Denon xx12 thread. From what I've read the Onkyo's have been having some reliability problems. Too bad, I would have bought the 616.
post #17 of 28
Another downside to the 616 is that it features the lowest version of Audyssey (2EQ) which cannot EQ the subwoofer as well as having 16x fewer filter resolution points as MultEQ XT in the 2112CI.
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
I ended up buying the Denon 2112 on clearance at Best Buy over the weekend. I set everything up and couldn't get sound out of zone 2. After playing with it for a while I realized it was not that zone 2 wasn't working, just that I can't output from my apple TV (3rd generation, only has digital outputs) to zone 2, even if I am watching/listening to the same thing on zone 1. Apparently this is a problem for most AVRs.

I spoke with Crutchfield and they said the newer 2113 isn't capable of doing this either. The new Denon 2313 can do it, but the older 2312 can't. They also recommended a Yamaha RX-V773, RX-A810, & RX-A820 receivers.
post #19 of 28
Actually none of the XX13 models (to include the 2313CI) can pass PCM 2.0 over optical/digital coax to Zone 2, rather only the 3312CI can (from the XX12 models); however, all you need to do is use an optical--> analog converter and you'll be good to go with the 2112CI.

Please review post #3 in the Denon AVR-XX12 Owner's thread (linked in my sig) to include the information on Zone 2 below ....

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1334369/the-official-denon-avr-xx12-model-owners-thread/0_100#user_M
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
I would need to do the same thing for the cable box. I want to also be able to play my cable box audio to zone 2 as well, when I am grilling and I have a football game on in the living room.

I see part C of the post you linked to addresses playing the same audio source to zone 2.
Quote:
c. Whole House Audio: If you have a Zone 2 model (1712/1913 or higher) and want to send the "same" audio to more than just one zone/room, you can connect a multi zone impedance matching speaker selector (eg. 4 zone speaker selector) to the Surr Back/Amp Assign speaker posts. If adding more than 2 additional rooms; however, you will want to consider an AVR model that has Zone 2 pre-outs (XX12: ”CI” models, XX13: 1713, and all “CI” models) so that a separate 2CH amp can run the whole house speakers. You would then connect the speaker selector between the speakers and the external amp. For more information on whole house audio setups, review this website.

Is it possible to send a digital signal to zone 2 if it is also playing in the main zone? If not, I am willing to pay a bit more for the receiver to just be capable of playing a digital source in both zones. If I have to upgrade to the 3312CI I will. Any thoughts on those Yamahas?
post #21 of 28
The Zone 2 analog audio limitation applies in all cases (same source, different source, pre-outs, Amp Assign posts), unlike the Yamaha Aventage series which can pass the same HDMI stereo audio being played in the main zone to Zone 2. The solution is to simply connect an analog cable from any source you want to pass to Zone 2 in addition to the HDMI cable for Zone 1. So for the cable box, connect an analog cable to the analog inputs using the same source name as is being used for the HDMI input (eg. CBL/SAT). There really shouldn't be any need to upgrade to the 3312CI just for this feature.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Which Aventage receivers are capable of playing the digital signal from zone 1 in zone 2? Is this what is referred to as "party mode?" I see the 820 offers it, but not the 720.

As always, thanks for the great information. I would have been lost without the guidance I received from this site.
post #23 of 28
Yes, Party mode, stereo audio in both the main and Zone 2 .... 820 and higher models.
post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 
How does party mode differ from the older speaker B outputs? I've seen a few receivers that offer B output that only play what is playing in the main zone.
post #25 of 28
The Front B speakers would do the same thing ... ie. pass the same HDMI audio to Zone 2; however, there would be no independent volume adjustment for the Front B speakers as opposed to Zone 2 speakers.
post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 
Any idea if Onkyo's "Whole House Mode" works the same as Yamaha's "Party mode"? Can you use a digital source in the other zones on the Onkyo when in "Whole House Mode"?
post #27 of 28
No ... rather "analog" only with "Whole House" mode.
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
I returned the Denon 2112 to best buy last week. I was at Costco this past weekend and they had a Yamaha HTR-4065 on sale for $330. I picked it up just to try out Yamaha's interface. The 4065 is a fairly limited receiver compared to the Denon 2112. I saw elsewhere on AVS that it is essentially the same thing as the Yamaha RX-V473 http://www.avsforum.com/t/1430943/yamaha-htr-4065-from-costco The HTR-4065 only has 1 zone and is only a 5.1 system. The 5.1 doesn't affect my setup, but the one zone does. I definitely like Yamaha's interface better than Denon's.

I have already run into one limitation on the 4065, it isn't capable of upscaling composite video to HDMI. I have an old DVD player and VCR and both have RCA connectors with composite video. I know the Denon was capable of this, and it looks like higher level Yamaha's are as well.

I also had a minor problem when using YPAO to calibrate the speakers. I ran it the first time by placing the microphone on my couch cushion. The receiver configured the speakers with an echo. I ran YPAO a second time, this time placing the microphone on a tripod, which fixed the issue.

I'm hoping that the Yamaha Aventage RX-A820 goes on sale around the holidays. I can return the HTR-4065 anytime within the next 90 days.
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