These are all questions best answered once you figure out what you're trying to accomplish in terms of A/V distribution. Again, distributing DirecTV is probably better done with the Genie and the associated parts. Whether you house those boxes in a central rack or at each TV is a separate question. An AVR will be needed for any zone with surround - if you plan to use "external speakers" instead of the TV speakers, that's really the same thing. A soundbar could be a good choice for some of the less-critical areas.
I believe I have stated my intent, I'm having problems with how hardware distribution. Here is my intent, there is only two of us in the equation: Equipment rack in basement with possible small slave rack in theater room. Audio throughout the house, ceiling or wall speakers controlled by wall or remotes. Over 75% of video is in the theater, except 15% the wife in the kitchen or 10% the other TV's.
Theater Rm: A/V/lighting zone (7.1 surround sound)
Great Rm (Kitchen-Dinning-Living): A zone ceiling speakers (4-6)
Kitchen: A/V zone wall speakers (2)
Master Bdrm: A/V zone wall speakers (2)
Master Bathrm: A zone ceiling speakers (2)
Mud Rm: A zone ceiling speakers (2)
Front Porch: A zone ceiling speakers (2)
Sun Rm: A/V zone wall speakers (2)
Bdrm #2: A/V zone wiring only future
Office: A/V zone wall speakers (2)
Question: TV's have poor sound, all are wall mounted. I understand a sound bar my be a better choice than 2-wall speakers. Plan to purchase required LED TV's based on picture quality now add on features. Recommendation for speaker configuration for wall mounted TV's; soundbar, ceiling, wall speaker system??
Great Rm: A/V zone (5.1 surround sound) floor/attached wall (own Pan 50" Plasma, Def Tech BP2000 & surround now) wall-less intrusive up stairs. This area is gym and play room (pool & shuffleboard & air hockey table) darker environment good for plasma
Bdrm #3 A/V zone wiring only future
Bdrm #4: A/V zone wiring only future
Patio: A zone rock speakers (2-4)
Single rack with a Crestron brain
HDTV-DirecTV w/ Genie & 4-6 minis at each TV
DVD/BD storage/player (300-400)
PS3 own now located in Home Theater
Apple TV own now
TBD matrix switch
AVR-7.1 own now
AVR-5.1 own now
Cat6, RG6, HDMI, 14/2-16/2-16/4 speaker wire
Home Theater: (24’ x 14’ x 9’) Dedicated w/adjustable lighting
Fixed screen: TBD 110” > flat or curved based on L/R/C speakers behind (more room) or the side of the screen.
Projector: HDTV sports/movies (75%), DVD/BD (20%), PS3 photos/videos (5%) example: Sony HW50ES
Speakers: In wall, behind screen
Seating: 2 rows, prime center rear
Is this an initial game plan? This is a major accomplishment from my start, I was totally ignorant and could not spell a/v. Now I'm only practically ignorant, but I'm moving forward. To say 16/2 or 16/4 speaker wire and know how they function is high speed internet to me.