Originally Posted by pilotError
With the new Onkyo series (I have the TX-NR905), they have the powered zone 2, which is as you describe, used for the back surround in a 7.1 system or bi-amped front speakers. It also provides a non-powered pre-out for zone 2 that you can connect to an external amp to drive zone 2. In my case, it also has a zone 3, which I haven't used.
Currently, I have a 5.1 setup and used the powered zone 2 to a speaker selector for sound in my other rooms. I was debating the same issue.
Once nice thing about the new zone2 capable receivers is that you can have the surround playing and listen to the same / another input on zone 2 at the same time.
I had the setup you described driving a zone 2 using the speaker B output in my last receiver (Sony).
No. You don't understand what he wants. A 5.1 setup in the Main Zone with a "powered" Zone2 is easy to do and almost any 7.1 receiver will allow for this. What he wants is to simultaneously have a full 7.1 setup connected in his Main Zone, not a 5.1 setup, and also be able to easily, at will, use his receiver's 6th and 7th surround rear amps to drive a 2-channel "powered" Zone2. Obviously, you can not do this with a 7.1 receiver and run both setups simultaneously, but he says they will not be used simultaneously. He has a very specific need that I think some receivers WILL be able to provide, but not many. He needs a receiver that has 4 pairs of binding posts off of the surround rear amps; 2 pair (R/L) for his surround rear speakers, and 2 pair (R/L) for his Zone2 speakers. Most receivers only have 2 pair (R/L) of binding posts there that are assigned and connected either to 2 surround rear speakers OR 2 Zone2 speakers; not both simultaneously. (Read on.)
Originally Posted by D53
Interesting. Then I guess I should check to see which receivers have a "powered" zone 2....
I don't think you're understanding this fully. A "powered" Zone2 isn't ALL that you need. Most 7.1 receivers, when used for 5.1, WILL allow for the 2 extra amp channels to be assigned to a "powered" Zone2. But if you are going to have a 7.1 setup in one room and a 2-channel setup in another, even though you say you won't run them simultaneously, what you will need is NOT simply assignable surround rear amps, but you will need a receiver that allows for simultaneous connections of the surround rear amps to BOTH surround rear speakers AND Zone2 speakers, and that will allow you to choose how the amps are used for each listening situation, on-the-fly, at will. This is a very specific feature and is not simply a "powered" Zone2
There are a few receivers that will allow for this, but I'm not sure they're Onkyos. Check out Yamahas. I think that some Yamahas offer 4 pair of binding posts (2 pair R+L for the surround rears/2 pair R+L for the Zone2 speakers) off of the 2 surround rear amps that CAN be connected simultaneously, but not used simultaneously, to drive either the surround rear speakers of the Main Zone OR the 2 speakers of Zone2, depending upon your specific need at that particular time. Additionally (and I know you say you don't need this ability), with these Yamahas, if you DO use both sets of speakers (7.1 + Zone2) simultaneously, the receiver will automatically switch the Main Zone to 5.1 to allow simutlaneous use of the Zone2 speakers. You're going to have to download the manuals to see who offers exactly what you need. But simply having a "powered" Zone2 is NOT all that you are looking for. In fact, what you need is much more specific than that.
If you don't like your options, I'd buy an outboard 2-channel amp for your Zone2.