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Discussion Starter #1
This might be a dumb question but I can't seem to find clear answers with a google search. Let's say I want to have the TV screen on (whether the image is coming from a cable box or a PS3) but also listen to music (whether that be through regular AM/FM stereo, Spotify, iTunes, mp3, etc), is that possible w/o funky wiring? If so, which receivers can handle that?

Similarly, what if I want to watch TV with sound in zone 1 while listening to music in zone 2? What receivers and/or features will allow me to do that?

Sorry if this is confusing. I'm really new to all of this stuff and trying to learn as much as possible before buying anything. If anyone doesn't understand what I'm asking, let me know and I'll try to clarify. Thanks in advance for the help.
 

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What you want to do is simple, depending on how you have everything wired and the receiver that you have. If you send everything through the receiver via HDMI then it (the receiver) determines what you see/hear. Some receivers offer a zone 2 option.

You can always use the other outputs on the cable box/PS2 (cable out, component/RCA video and audio out depending on what each has) and send them to other inputs on the TV. Basically, you would have one input on the TV that is slaved to the receiver via HDMI and uses the TV as a monitor and ALSO use the other inputs on the TV for direct connection from the other sources. This would allow you to do what you want regardless of what receiver you have. The sound would be from the TV on one source and the receiver for another though.

I hope that this helps; when you buy your receiver ask about a Zone 2 option as some require another amp. Also, feel free to ask any other questions. A list of the models of the TV and receiver would help if you still have questions. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hmm, that's kind of what I was afraid of. I was hoping to cut down cabling and have the receiver (or some sort of pass through feature) handle it for me. Also, I think my cable box (Brighthouse supplied Cisco Explorer 8300HD) makes you choose whether you are using the HDMI output or the component outputs so I wouldn't be able to output to both the receiver and the TV. I guess I could go from cable box to TV to receiver, but again, that is a lot of cabling I was hoping to avoid and it also runs the risk of the audio and video not matching up since the video would be a direct connection while the audio would be going from box to tv to receiver.

I don't have a receiver model # as I'm still trying to decide what to get. I've been looking at the Pioneer 1121, Onkyo 709 and Denon 1912 but am open to pretty much any other receiver that I can get for $600 or less (would consider going a little higher if I had too). I haven't purchased a receiver in 10 or so years so I'm trying to catch up on all the new features, models, etc so I'll take all of the suggestions I can get on that.

My TV is a 42 inch Pioneer Elite from about 2007-2008. I'm not sure of the exact model # on it. I have the PS3 slim. EDIT: I don't think the PS3 will output video/audio signals through two outputs simultaneously either.
 

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You may still be able to do that; many new receivers offer a Zone 2 option. It's not unusual, but you need to check before you buy the receiver. What some receivers do is use the surround amp section for zone 2, so you have stereo in two rooms with two different sources. Others allow you to add a separate amp for zone 2; this allows surround in Zone 1 and stereo in zone 2. You also use the tape outputs (record out) to another inexpensive integrated amp/receiver to accomplish the same thing.

The two options above would mean that you would not have to add a bunch on wires. My advise is to get the details on how zone 2 works before you buy the receiver. There are so many options in receivers today that I'd be hard pressed to state in absolute terms which is best. The ones that you listed are all good options. Make sure that the receiver can decode the "new lossless" 7.1 formats (DTS-MA, Dolby TruHD) and that the zone 2 options fit your needs. Feel free to follow-up with any questions; we're here to help.
 

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Hello,
At least with the Onkyo TX-NR3008 I own, it offers a TV/CD Mode where you can listen to Music while watching TV. I will look more into my Owners Manual to give you the full range of options when time allows me.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys. Sounds like there are some options for me. I'm going to continue googling and reading and see what I can come up with. I'm sure I'll have more questions. Seems like the more I read, the more questions I come up with.
 

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I took a look at the 3 receivers that you listed; one thing stuck-out about the Denon-

"The Denon AVR-1912 supports second-zone audio via both powered outputs, so you don't need an additional amplifier in the second zone. Do note that audio from the HDMI and digital audio inputs can't be used in a second zone, which is pretty limiting."

The Pioneer seems like a good match as (according to the review that I read) it seems to offers the option of powered/unpowered mulit-zone. In other words, you have the option of using the surround amps in the receiver to power the 2nd zone OR you can add an amp. Using the surround amps for the other zone(s) would mean that you will not be able to have surround sound while playing music in another room; you would be "limited" to stereo when you use mulit-zone. If you add another amp you can have surround in the main room and stereo in other room(s). This may or may not matter to you, but if you entertain a lot the option of having a movie (in surround sound) in the main room while playing music in other rooms can be nice.

With the vast selection of receivers on the market today, there are myriad options that may or may not be important to you. Based on your post, however, make sure that the receiver that you buy will send digital audio (HDMI for example) to the 2nd zone. Also, get details on how the multi-zone feature works (is it powered by the receiver's surround amps or do you need to add another amp?).

I hope that this helps!
 

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I took a look at the 3 receivers that you listed; one thing stuck-out about the Denon-

"The Denon AVR-1912 supports second-zone audio via both powered outputs, so you don't need an additional amplifier in the second zone. Do note that audio from the HDMI and digital audio inputs can't be used in a second zone, which is pretty limiting."

The Pioneer seems like a good match as (according to the review that I read) it seems to offers the option of powered/unpowered mulit-zone. In other words, you have the option of using the surround amps in the receiver to power the 2nd zone OR you can add an amp. Using the surround amps for the other zone(s) would mean that you will not be able to have surround sound while playing music in another room; you would be "limited" to stereo when you use mulit-zone. If you add another amp you can have surround in the main room and stereo in other room(s). This may or may not matter to you, but if you entertain a lot the option of having a movie (in surround sound) in the main room while playing music in other rooms can be nice.

With the vast selection of receivers on the market today, there are myriad options that may or may not be important to you. Based on your post, however, make sure that the receiver that you buy will send digital audio (HDMI for example) to the 2nd zone. Also, get details on how the multi-zone feature works (is it powered by the receiver's surround amps or do you need to add another amp?).

I hope that this helps!
Great info. Thank you very much. From what I've been able to gather, the buzzwords are "dual zone/dual source."

I think the Pioneer will do what I want and the higher end Onkyo's appear to do the same or more. I'm going to keep looking and see what I can come up with. The inability to run surround without a preamp while listening to zone 2 audio isn't a huge deal to me.

I really appreciate the help.
 

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I seem to recall reading up on this, and learning that a lot of newer receivers won't let you mix audio sources when the video and audio source is both coming in via HDMI. Some sort of weird digital rights thing. The workaround is to use the optical or coax outputs (most cable and satellite boxes have one or the other) and set the audio to come over that instead of HDMI. A hassle, yes, but it's only one slender wire extra, and the audio quality is the same since Satellite and cable boxes don't do anything beyond the capabilities of optical anyway (unlike BluRay).
 

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I have an Onkyo HT 3400. Anyone know how I can watch TV while listening to music? Can't find anything in the owners manual but may not be looking in the right place. Any help is greatly appreciated!
 

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The only way that it might work is to use the VCR-DVR output and select your video source via the record out. That would require running wires (audio and video) to another input on your TV, and the sound would be through the TV's speakers (and TV's volume control).

According to the specs on Onkyo's website, the Onkyo HT-S3400 does NOT have Multi Zone capability. You could also run the record out to another receiver (or integrated amp) and send your music to that. That should allow you to have surround in one room and music (radio, tuner, etc.) in another. You'll have to use the 2nd receiver's volume control, and the record out may not work for digital inputs (HDMI, optical, etc.) though.

I hope this helps.
 
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