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Discussion Starter #1
I recently built a solid 5.1 setup with the help of the folks in this forum. I am looking to start "phase 2" of my project, but I need some advice.


My system is setup it my den (adjacent to my living room), with a Denon 2112 running the show. I would like to use the two remaining channels to power a stereo setup in my living room for music listening while entertaining. I was thinking of buying two speakers from Orb Audio and mounting them to the ceiling, and running the speaker wire up through the attic to minimize the footprint of the system in the main living space.


Another part of phase 2 is centralizing all of my music into a HTPC soon. However, my understanding is Zone 2 functionality is analog only. Does this mean I will have to run my HTPC to the receiver both digital AND analog (digital for main use, analog for zone 2 use)? Will this even work?


The two "zones" will never be used at the same time (the rooms are right next to each other). Ideally, I would like to be able to control my system/HTPC via an iPad or some other remote device from the living room when listening to music.


Another option I am considering is to have the HTPC communicate with the receiver over AirPlay. This should work in zone 2, correct? This would be good for iTunes, but will it work for Pandora/Slacker Radio/Spotify?


What I am really looking for is old school "A/B" capability. Route my signal to "A" when I am using the den, and "B" when I want to listen to music in the living room.

Any thoughts on the best way to set this up?


Thanks to everyone for helping, and happy 4th.
 

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The unfortunate reality of Denon's so-called multi-zone receivers is that there are limitations. I haven't read the manual for the 2112 (that's actually your job!), but it's typical many AVRs that zone 2 and 3 cannot play from a digital source. The exception may be AirPlay, but you'll have to check on that. My AirPlay solution is to use a Airport Express with analog audio out, so I can feed Zone 2, and coincidentally, the main zone too, in perfect sync. This may work from built-in AirPlay, it would make sense that it would. And it's typical that if you play a source (like an HTPC) that connects via HDMI or optical, you won't get it to work in Zone 2.


The fact that both zones wouldn't be used simultaneously is immaterial.


As to control on your iPad, there's the Denon Remote App of course, and then you'll need some way of controlling your HTPC (you didn't say what it is, though). On a really basic level, there's the VNC app, which gives you a copy of your desktop on the iPad. Works fairly well. Depending on what the HTPC is and what the software is you may find an app to control it. All of those apps will work, but the user experience will be rough at best.


To really integrate that all seamlessly you need a single app that deals with everything. You might look into iRule. It really can do everything if you have the time and patience to build the system right, or can afford a custom installer. For example, if your HTPC runs iTunes, with their optional iTunes module you can build a control screen that has an iTunes window in it that shows your entire library including playlists and album art, and the usual AirPlay destination drop menu. You can control your AVR to any degree you want, and even add lighting control, all within a single screen or multiple pages, your choice.


There is a cost to you in the form of a learning curve plus time, or paying a pro to do it for you. Some of the sample screens on the iRule site look clunky, and cluttered, but the results can be pretty slick. Here's an installer that shows these examples on their site. Now that looks cool! Wish they showed more.


Anyway, it can be done, but as to looking for old-school A/B switching, just be aware of the analog only zone 2 gotcha. This isn't confined to Denon, by the way!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, I really appreciate the insight. This will help me plan the next phase of my build.


The reason I didnt provide any information on my HTPC is I havent built it yet. I will keep the digital/analog zone 2 considerations in mind when I build it. It sounds like the best option is to run my HTPC in both digital and analog out, which would give me the flexibility to listen to almost anything via zone 2.
 
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