Multi Zone / Room AV Amp purchase advice

snavebelac

Standard Member
Hi All

I am looking to replace and upgrade an old Panasonic hand-me-down amp which I currently use to run my home cinema and music system.

We have just recently had a conservatory built and I would like to be able to pipe audio into that room as well. I have looked into multi room systems but they all seem to do more than I want which is this - The new AV Amp will have HDMI for my PS3 and BT Vision box going to my Samsung LCD TV. I only have 5.1 surround at the moment and dont really need to add more speakers at the moment. The multi room requirement is to pipe stereo audio to another pair of speakers in the conservatory. This will mean we can listen to music in the other room without having the volume up so loud in the main room.

I have looked at the Onkyo TS-XR805/875 which says it has zones but I cannot find information on how these are controlled. For example, can I control volume independently and can I turn either pair of speakers off as required?

It is only the stereo audio I would want to send over, not full 5.1 or any video.


Any sugestions on a setup or amplifier to do all this. I only really want a single piece of kit but will consider multiple options if necessary.

Thanks in advance
 

snavebelac

Standard Member
Thanks Mildoo. I have seen these systems already. What I really wanted was just asingle bosx that would drive the 5.1 in the living room and lso power stereo speakers in another room as required. Or is this over-simplyfying things?
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
IDeally you want something that comes with a second zone remote and/or has second zone codes that you can use with a programmable remote such as pronto/harmony/nevo etc. Otherwise you are having to always do things from within the main zone, potentially having to even get the main zone powered up and displaying a menu to do things.

The Onkyo does have an IR input which can be fed from a second zone. You will need to clone the remote control though. Yamaha IIRC include a zone 2 remote, as do Harmon Kardon from memory, but all will require you to purchase the extra remote receivers and blocks etc. I think it's very worthwhile, it's not much extra work to get an IR eye into a second zone and backwire it alongside the speaker and video cabling from the main amp. The effect is very cool!

With programmed remotes it is easier still since you can use wireless extenders and program up dedicated second zone options. Prontos I do always have dedicated pages for second zone (usually the garden) with radio tuning functions, volume controls etc etc.
 

snavebelac

Standard Member
Thanks for the input Liam.

What you suiggest sounds exactly like what I want to do - nice and simple. I dont have any experience with this so could you just confirm how it works. I run a remote cable alongside the speaker cables to the second zone. This has an "eye" on it that picks up the commands from the second remote allowing me to adjust the second zone speakers volume etc... To adjust the main zone speakers I just use the controls as normal in the main zone.

Can I enable/disable the zones as required as well?

The Onkyo will support this you say, I will look into the Yamaha. Are there any other suggestions for hardware that supports all these features in a single box if possible.

Thanks again
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
I remember the top Onkyos and Yamahas having built in amps for stereo in 2nd and third zones. To be fair almost all AVRs have zone 2 power and line out capability fo some sort usually by reallocating surround back channels to zone 2 instead. Something like an Arcam will sound much better and has better discrete zone 2 controls which are more advanced than Onkyo and Yamaha and the like. The Jap amps have your gubbins for HDMI audio. Personally I take overall sound quality.

Anyway, with pretty much all the amps they will have an IR input as a 3.5mm jack. Better ones like the Arcam have a dedicated one for Zone 2 which means the remote codes you send the unit via that input will only control/power/tune zone 2 (whether zone 1 is on or off). The Arcam can also do what the Onkyo and Yamaha do, which is to use different IR codes for zone 2 and have them all run in from the front IR pickup. Depending on whether you will use a programmable remote or a learning remote for zone 2 etc will dictate which method you will use. Neither of these though have dedicated zone2 IR input. I can't speak for other models, I've only used this option with these three amps in the past and I preferred the Arcam greatly.

To do it you run a 3.5mm-3.5mm cable from zone 2 to the amp (or I just run CAT5 and join it). In zone 2 you need an infra-red receiver (Xantech dinkylink/microlink is what I use) joined straight to the CAT5. With the Arcam this can plug directly into the back of the unit via 3.5mm jack. With the Onkyo and Yamaha this will need to go to a connector block and then to an emitter on the front panel to share with the IR input from the zone 1 remote.

You also run speaker cables, and you might a well run composite video too if you have a small TV in there. With all your sources in the main room, you need to run composite video connections as well as hgih quality connections (e.g. HDMI) and this way a simple video signal will always be switched to zone 2.

In zone 2 you can then select source, tune the amp's internal tuner, volume up and down, and power zone 2 on and off all from the second room. The Yamaha gives you audio and video to zone 2, and audio only to zone 3 and includes a zone 2 remote control.

If you are using a pronto/harmony or what have you in zone 1 then you can setup your amps original remote to use in zone 2.
 

snavebelac

Standard Member
That sounds great. I am tending towards the yamaha - with the 2 remotes it seems to provide the closest to full funtionality out of the box.

Thanks a lot for the useful and complete advice. I will post back here with more questions once I have researched some models.

Man I wish I had a bigger budget, you could really go to town on this multi-room stuff !!

Cheers
 

mossym

Distinguished Member
denon 3808 does exactly what you want, and comes with two remotes, one for the second zone
 

snavebelac

Standard Member
After much research and talking with the finance director I actually ended up with a cheaper solution - the Onkyo TX-SR606. It covered all bases and had a simple poered zone 2 output. I only have 5.1 speakers in the main zone so this was fine for me as it uses the surroud rear outputs to power zone 2.

I set it up on Saturday and ran speaker wire directly to my B&W 602s in the conservatory and it works great.

I also bought the Onkyo ipod dock and that allows music from the ipod to be played in zone 2 while I watch a move or play games in 5.1 surround in zone one. The 2 zones levels can be adjusted independenetly and each can be turned on or off as required.

This turned out to be an ideal solution for me and kept the wife happy as I spent less on the system.

The Onkyo only comes with a single remote so I will be embarking on a remote extender system in the near future which will also allow me to hide all the boxes in a closed cabinet of some sort and keep the childrens sticky fingers off everything.

Thanks you all for you assistance - it was very helpful in making my final decision.
 

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