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I have been looking for a new main media closet receiver that can drive 7.1 speakers in my main listening area while simultaneously delivering left and right channels from the main area content to two ceiling mounted speakers in the kitchen area. This is all in a very open floor plan with the main area speakers (left/right/rear left/rear right) also being in the ceiling. The kitchen area has a separate wall mounted volume control. It seems every "multi-zone" unit basically "steals" two of the 7.1 to deliver multi-zone. I really don't need a "whole house" system since the bedroom wing has it's own delivery system in each of the main rooms.

Is there a modestly priced unit that can provide this seeming (to me) simple feature? My legacy McIntosh pre-amp has "A" and "B" speakers both of which can be on or off independently so I am struggling to figure out why this is so hard for the engineers. I realize there is not much content for 7.1 but it was in place when I moved in and I am trying to preserve the capability. I can probably wiggle my way to something on the higher end but my wiggle room is limited.

All suggestions are very welcome.
 

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The Pioneer VSX-1024K, VSX-1124k and VSX-44 all seem to come close to your requirements for ~$500. They have a Speaker B switch which diverts their Rear Surround speaker amps so they can be used to drive a pair of stereo speakers (perhaps in another room). While the B speakers are in use, only 5.1 surround sound is available in the main room: the Rear Surround speakers are silent. When the B speakers are switched off, full 7.1 is available in the main zone. Their other features are somewhat different, so you'll have to compare them carefully to find out which best matches your needs.

If you want all 9 speakers to be active simultaneously, though, you should expect to spend more like twice that: in the vicinity of $1K.

If you want to use an AVR's internal amps simultaneously for both the main Zone and for Zone 2, then you need an AVR with 9 internal amps. (7+2=9 :) ). They're quite a bit more expensive than the more common 7 channel AVRs: in the vicinity of $1500. Of course, you're paying for more features than just having 9 internal amps.

Some AVRs with 7 internal amps will simultaneously drive an additional 2 channels if you add an external amp.

Examples of 7 amp AVRs which can drive 9 speakers simultaneously if you add an external stereo amp (for an additional ~$200) are the Denon AVR X4000 (last year's model, now ~$800) and this year's X4100W (list ~$1100).
 

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I just picked up a X4000 which will drive 7 speakers and also run a stereo RCA output to an external amp and thats how it would work.

But yea what selden said is spot on.

Now... mine will drive 5 speakers and then have two speakers for zone 2 all internally.
 

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Selden

Thanks for clarifying my options. Since I don't want to spring for a 4 figure unit, I'll look for something that makes it easy switch the back amps to the second zone. For the majority of the time that will be fine, since what I am trying to accomplish is to deliver broadcast/cable audio to the kitchen so which ever of us is preparing can more easily follow the program without turning up the volume. In the event we were viewing content that delivered 7.1 it would probably be a movie which could be paused while say beverages were being refreshed. Your info saved me hours searching through manuals online since any restrictions involved in multi-zone are not made clear until you get to the details.
 

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241

I was looking at the RCA out/second receiver option since I have an older unit which I could put into service. All of the equipment is in a media closet controlled by a Universal Remote RF20 so as long as the second receiver was a different brand than the main unit it would not be too difficult to manage.

While I tend to get my setup working and stable and don't spend a lot of time on it afterwards, I have to say HTS is really great place to come for excellent information.

Thanks to both responders.
 

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there a modestly priced unit that can provide this seeming (to me) simple feature? My legacy McIntosh pre-amp has "A" and "B" speakers both of which can be on or off independently so I am struggling to figure out why this is so hard for the engineers.
It’s can be done, it’s just physics. But I don’t think you realize the challenge in this day and age. Your McIntosh is most likely a two-channel system. It’s not much of a challenge to make a stereo amp capable of running two pairs of speakers. The simplified version, just beef up the power supply to handle 4 ohms, which will power two pairs of 8-ohm speakers.

However, these days a receiver’s power supply is divided out into (in this case) seven channels. If you’ve read any equipment reviews you know that most “modestly priced” receivers can’t even deliver their rated power at 8 ohms into all channels simultaneously, much less be sturdy enough to handle second pairs of speakers at 4 ohms. Or if you’ve ever researched specs you’d know that very few, if any, AVRs are rated for 4 ohms, which would be required if any of the channels would be able to handle two pairs of speakers. Of course, it can be done: Just beef up the power supply, and include a fork lift in the retail price to move the thing. This is why you only see 4-ohm-rated, multi-channel amps as standalone units, and they are very large and very heavy – and not “modestly priced.”

The other option for an A/B speaker switch would be to re-wire for series when the second pair is engaged. This is a trick I’ve seen done on budget receivers that didn’t have a beefy enough power supply to handle a 4-ohm load. Assuming 8-ohm speakers, series wiring gets a 16-ohm load on those two channels, which is an easy load to drive but it cuts power in half. Then, power is divided between the two pairs of series-wired speakers. This means if you started with a 100-watt amplifier, one amplifier pair with two pairs of speakers in series is delivering only 25 watts to each of the speakers. So, in your scenario the two speakers that are in the main room (working with the rest of the 7.1 system) are drastically underpowered compared to the rest.

Bottom line, if there were a way to do what you’re requesting easily or (especially) cheaply, it would have already been done.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Wayne

Thanks for clarifying the technical hurdles. I must confess I have not kept up with the design tradeoffs facing today's equipment makers. I grew up in the "audiophile" era when a McIntosh 2100 with 105 rms per channel (actually, the 2100 is getting heavier as I get older) would drive my Bose 901 Series I just fine when my first wife would actually turn up the volume more than I did. Not so today, I am usually told by the current LOML to "turn it down"!

In doing some further browsing, it appears there are some units which approximate my beloved "A/B" switch and will toggle between surround back and zone 2 with a button on the front panel. Now that folks here have explained the technical/economic realities, it has help clarify what I really need which is 5.1 in the main listening area with left and right front delivered to zone 2. If I happen on some content which will deliver 6.2 I just press a button...zone 2 probably won't have a listener present anyway!

I will post back to this thread with +/- onthe options I have found (and the ones suggested) with further requests for inputs from the experts here.

Rich
 

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Selden

After looking more closely at your suggested models, it seems the VSX-1124 comes pretty close to meeting my needs. The "Front" speaker terminals can be configured to send 2 channel stereo to a separate room while still giving 5.1 in the main listening area. This can be switched through the "Speakers" button on the front of the unit. In addition, the unit can store up to 6 MCACC presets so I can use 2 for my two setups. This does not give me an "A" and "B" but it turns out "A" OR "B" is fine for my needs. In addition, the 1124 provides "Zone 2" output at RCA jacks so if I wanted some more complexity I could tie into one of my older units.

My only possible wrinkle is I need to drive the Pioneer CD analog inputs with the output from my legacy McIntosh preamp which serves my turntable and vinyl collection and my CD player. This works fine with my existing Sony STR DH-820 so I guess the Pioneer should handle it as well.

An added plus is it has a street price of around $350 which is in my price range.

Thanks to everyone for their help in this.

Rich
 

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[...]
My only possible wrinkle is I need to drive the Pioneer CD analog inputs with the output from my legacy McIntosh preamp which serves my turntable and vinyl collection and my CD player. This works fine with my existing Sony STR DH-820 so I guess the Pioneer should handle it as well.
Yes, the preamp will work fine with the Pioneer receiver, too.

An added plus is it has a street price of around $350 which is in my price range.
Sorry: I forgot to mention their current substantial price reduction for that model.

Thanks to everyone for their help in this.

Rich
You're very welcome.
 
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