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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I moved into a new house not long ago and have speakers in-wall speakers in my living room and master bedroom. I also have a home theater setup in my family room. So essentially I have 3 zones.


I want to be able to play music from ANY of the sources currently hooked up to my Onkyo amp in any/all of the 3 zones and be able to control the volume in each room independently (obviously).


I want to do this with my Onkyo amp as the "center of it all". I don't' want to invest a bunch of money in russound or other brand multi zone amps, I'm looking for a solution on the cheap. My Onkyo doesn't support 3 zones however...


Right now I have a second sony stereo amp with A&B speaker outputs. I'm running the pre-out from my Onkyo into the sony and that way I'm able to power all 3 zones (family room on the onkyo, living room on A output from the second amp and master bedroom for B output on the second amp). The problem with this is that my pre-amp output on the onkyo is variable, so in order to get reasonable volume in the remote zones, I have to CRANK the onkyo volume, there's no way for me to run "softly" in my family room and loud in the master bedroom (for example).


I do have a toslink digital optical output on my onkyo, I guess I could chain 3 amps together (one powering each zone) and run the digital out between them all - but then I have 3 $800 amps and that's not in the budget.


What am I missing? There's got to be a simpler way to do this. Is there by chance a cheap amp on the market that has optical OUTs? (I'd be willing to invest in say 2 more $200 amps). The only 2 ways I have to get sound out of my onkyo amp is either with the variable pre-out or the optical.


Suggestions? Solutions?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by lgibb
I want to be able to play music from ANY of the sources currently hooked up to my Onkyo amp in any/all of the 3 zones and be able to control the volume in each room independently (obviously).
Obviously you're not going to have a real "3-zone" setup -- since that would indicate that each zone can listen to a different source at the same time.


What you really describe, is the electronic equivalent to having 3 sets of speakers on the same system (as in A, B & C). Since your Onkyo has variable pre-outs, the only other way I know of to get the source sound out of your main amp (independant of it's volume setting) is via the tape monitor.


Hook your 2nd amp up to the TAPE OUT on the Onkyo, and whatver input your main amp is set to, that signal will also go to the TAPE OUT (to the 2nd, the Sony, amp in another room). If you have multiple TAPE OUTs, you could do an amp for each of the other 2 rooms so they can control their volume indpendantly.


However, to do that, you'd need 3 amps - and it sounds like you only have 2. If you were going to get a 3rd amp, then I'd obviously recommend a 3-zone setup (Such as the Sony DA5ES).


But, using what you have, try the TAPE OUT plugs (or MD/DAT OUT). Assuming it is a decent amp, the S/N ratio will be as good on the OUT ports as on the pre-amp output - just not affected by the volume of the main amp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input. The problem with using the tape-out is that the 2 sources I'm concerned with distributing (an audiotron and my DVD/CD player) are both fed into the amp via optical and the amp doesn't pass the optical input back out through the analog tape outputs.


The Sony you note looks like a great device, but I already have $900 invested in a new Onkyo amp and an additional $1100 for the sony isn't in my budget.


I'm thinking at this point if I could find a second, cheap, amp that supported dual zones and optical input that I could use it to power my living room and bedroom with the input coming from the optical out on my onkyo. Whether or not there is such a thing as a 'cheap' amp with digital in and dual zones is another matter ;)
 

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The Sony DA5ES is available online for around $750 or $800, just FYI.


However, as for your digital inputs, you can do what I do.


My Sony amp does not send digital to the other zones, only analog. So, I have optical and analog cables from my AudioTron to the amp. The main room gets the digital, the other zones get the analog.


I've also got coax digital and analog cables from my DVD player, so the other zones can get sound and video via the analog, while the main room enjoys digital.
 
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