Totally stumped - Need help with Zone 2 AVR headphone settings


Novice Member
Hello everyone,

Apologies for the long post but I'm at my wit's end trying to setup my headphones to work properly with my Denon X3600 9.2 channel receiver, using a separate headphone amp. The configuration I'm trying to go for:
  • Scenario 1: Keep using my receiver for my 9.1 setup with speakers during normal daytime use for movies and games. (This works already).
  • Scenario 2: Switch to Headphones at night time, treating the receiver as a headphone DAC, outputting to my JDS Atom Headphone amp.
    • Ideally, control the volume through the receiver since I could use the remote from my sofa and the headphone amp doesn't support remote functionality.
    • Have the speakers not output any audio at night time since I'd only be using headphones.
I previously had this working with a very clunky setup: An HDMI Switcher that merged all the HDMI into one feed that went first went through HDMI audio extractor before passing to one of the receiver's inputs. The optical out from the extractor just went to a stand alone headphone DAC.

It was recommended that I just remove the switcher, audio extractor and DAC and just use the receiver's Zone 2 functionality to get equivalent functionality. However, I can't for the life of me get this to work right. All images are up at this page but I also direct link to relevant ones. Here's where I'm at:
  • Here are the ports of the receiver - I have my Xbox (which is my test case) going into HDMI Bluray input. All my speakers (9.1) are using the normal outputs for each respective channel, and the Zone 2 RCA outputs are going into the headphone amp's RCA ins.
  • I left the AVR amp settings set to 9.1 since I'm using all those channels. Zone2 shows up in a little image at the bottom with the Pre label. There's also the terminal configuration shown on a separate screen.
  • I could set this to 7.1 and then Zone 2 shows up differently, but I would lose out on 2 of my channels for the speakers. I assumed this isn't needed anyways since I'm not using the AVR to drive the amp but maybe I have that wrong if I intended to use the volume control to begin with?
    • Images here and here if I were to change it to that mode.
  • Zone 2's settings - I'm not sure what HDMI audio I should be picking - Through or PCM. I'm also unclear on the volume limit.
  • Here are the audio settings I currently have on the Xbox audio menu, but I've tried messing with these values too.
I haven't figured out how to treat the volume separately for Zone 1 and Zone 2. Anytime I adjust the volume through the receiver, it seems to just crank it up through the speakers (and I don't hear anything through the headphones during this time).

The only time I've heard the headphone audio is if I turned off Zone 1 (which turned off the video signal to the TV). At that point, it was faintly coming through the headphones (much more faint than my previous dedicated DAC/amp setup). And it wasn't possible to adjust the volume of the AVR with just Zone 2 being on.
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Novice Member
Okay - I think I've made some progress! I figured out that the Volume Level in Zone 2 settings needed to be set to a fixed value (e.g. 0db) vs variable. This gets me back to where I was with the previous setup, but unfortunately still only lets me adjust the volume through the headphone amp physical knob. I was hoping that I could affect it through the AVR volume control but I guess that's not possible.

When I adjust the volume that way, it only cranks up what's coming out of the speakers.

Edit: Got it all setup now! No idea what was going on but separate volume control is working for Zone 1 and 2 now after restarting the receiver.
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Welcome to the Forum.

I have found very little difference with using the Denon's headphone jack, which is pretty good to be honest. It certainly has enough power to drive even the most difficult of headphones and with your headphone amp just giving you the same audio as that of the Denon then a standalone headphone amp is more or less redundant.

The audio you are hearing is still that of the Denon's pre-amp. Using the headphone jack will instantly mute all connected speakers. Unless the quality of the headphone amp the headphones themselves are exceptional, it is only then that you will hear a difference.

I have a Denon AV amp and use it with Oppo PM1 headphones. My headphone amp is used for stereo music only and not connected to the Denon.

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