New Two Zone System - I'm out of my League


I've read a ton of the Home Theater posts and everyone is super knowledgeable and helpful.  I'm kindly asking for everyone's advice.

I have always been a two-channel (amp, pre-amp, tower speakers) person.  My wife and I are remodeling our main floor and now the two towers have to go - I'm sure you can guess why!

Zone 1:  In the living room I will have two in-wall speakers - left/right speakers on the sides of the TV and a powered subwoofer.  Unless you suggest otherwise, I'd like to use my existing Parasound amp and pre-amp separates to power the two in-walls and send an audio signal to the powered subwoofer (using "loop output" on the amp).  These speakers will mainly be used for TV watching, and occasional music playing.  I have no interest in anything more than this 2.1 set-up.

Zone 2:  In the kitchen on the same floor as the living room I will have two in-ceiling speakers.  These speakers will play music.  I was thinking I would power these speakers with an integrated amp.

Most times - it will be the TV audio playing through the in walls in Zone 1 and music playing through the in-ceilings in Zone 2 (simultaneously).  This is easily accomplished with the set-up I described above (I believe).  My question / confusion is this - I'd ideally like the option to play music from the same source in the two zones at the same time (same music playing through all four speakers in the two rooms).  Can you please tell me the easiest / best way to accomplish this flexibility?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.



Unfortunately, the only way to get where you want to go is either a full blown Home Theater Processor or a AV Receiver. I don’t know of any 2-channel preamps that will do a "zone 2". The HT Processor or AV Receiver will replace your existing 2-channel preamp and will act as a source selector and volume control for both Zone 1 and Zone 2 speakers. You will need to supply an amplifier for Zone 2 if you choose an HT Processor (an integrated is not needed). Some AV Receivers can use other speaker outputs for Zone 2 (such as the "height speakers"). If you are still interested in this path, give us the following details and we can help guide towards a solution:

- What is your current model preamp/amplifier?

- What is your budget for this HT Processor / AV Receiver?  This also decides the audio quality you will get out of this device.

- Do you have any specific video source requirements such as HDMI, 3D or 4K? Tidal, Netflix, streaming, DLNA?

You’ll have to replace your current preamp. The HT Processor route is the better way to go for sound quality and to keep your current amplifier. However, your budget may force you to do an AV Receiver if you want all the bells and whistles (4K, Netflix, tidal, streaming, etc.).

Hi AuxInput.  Thanks so much for your detailed and quick response - I really appreciate it.  My more in-depth details are below.

Amp = Parasound HCA-1500A (200 watts per channel, 2 channels)

Pre-Amp = Parasound PLD-2000

$1,000 = Budget for HT Processor / AV Receiver (I'm still not clear on the difference between the HT Processor and AV Reciever)

Video = HDMI 4k / 18GB, Netflix, streaming - I originally was going to run the HDMI directly from the cable TV box to the TV and then run Audio left/right from the TV to the preamp.  I will also have a cat5 cable going to the TV (for streaming).  But I understand the HDMI can carry the audio signal as well, I'm def open to / looking for suggestions here.

I'm fine not using / replacing my current Parasound preamp.  If I use the HT processor or AV Receiver - will I be able to choose which zone I use my current Parasound two-channel amp with (Living Room, in-walls)?

Please let me know if any further info would be useful.  Thanks again for all your help!


Perhaps a Bluesound Node for each room, if you get the integrated for the kitchen, connected wirelessly, would allow you to stream music to both rooms.
I use it for my office (2nd floor) and living room (1st floor). It works perfectly. And, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. 
I am using the Node 1, which I bought on Ebay for around $200 each. 
The Node 2 has a better DAC, so it might be better if you are not planning on using a separate DAC like I do.

An AV Receiver has several types of inputs for audio and video, including several HDMI inputs, digital coaxial and toslink digital inputs, along with many 2-channel RCA audio inputs. This can include old style composite and component video inputs. An AV Receiver has multi-channel amplifiers for anywhere from 7 to 13 channels (you can hook up speakers directly to the receiver. The AV Receiver will also have RCA preamp outputs so you can hook it to any amplifier as well.

An HT Processor is pretty much the same thing, except it does not have internal amplifiers. It is a preamp/processor only and requires an external amplifier for all speakers. This allows the company to use more of the space inside for better power supply and analog circuits. Many HT Processors also have XLR balanced outputs.

For the best sound quality situation in your budget, I would recommend getting a used Marantz AV7702 processor. The 7702 is just recently been discontinued by Marantz and they can be found on ebay for anywhere between $800-1200 (or more if new-in-box).

If you don’t like getting used stuff, you can look for a new Marantz SR5011 or SR6011 AV Receiver. They will not have as good sound quality as the AV7702 processor. On the receivers, I generally recommend buying the highest one you can afford. The Marantz receiver models are pretty much functionally all the same. The difference is that the higher models have a better/larger power supply which translates into better sound quality. SR5011 is typically $799. SR6011 can be gotten from BH Photo & Video for $1149.

You can still use your Parasound amplifier with the receiver for main movie speakers. You can use a couple of the speaker connections on the receiver for the Zone 2 kitchen speakers (so you wouldn’t have to buy an additional amp).

I recommend connecting all audio/video sources (bluray, satellite, cd, etc.) to the processor/receiver and letting the processor/receiver decode and manage the audio/video. It will also have the benefit of doing bass management for your powered subwoofer.  The Marantz devices also have Ethernet input so you can stream from DLNA or internet.  If you want Netflix, you can hook up a Roku or use a Sony Bluray player to stream from Netflix

Matt, there are some other ways to accomplish what you want to do with using an AV Receiver or HT Processor. Can you list all of the source components and do all need to play in both locations. If not, how will they be used?

Thank you to both gdnrbob and AudioInput for all your suggestions and details - I can't tell you how helpful this is!

To tls49:

Living Room - Zone 1 (2.1 set-up) sources:

(1) Music audio files (MP3's) stored on remote hard drive

(2) Sirius satellite radio streamed via laptop (?) - I don't think Sirius is supported on the Bluesound Node 2 - blah!

(3) TV audio (cable TV box, streaming Netflix via cat5 cable, etc)

Kitchen - Zone 2 (2.0 set-up)

(1) Music audio files (MP3's) stored on remote hard drive

(2) Sirius satellite radio streamed via laptop (?)

I'd like the option to play #2 and #3 speakers simultaneously from same source at same time.  But in most cases it will be #3 playing in the Living Room, while music plays in the kitchen.  Also, if it makes a difference - all the components (cable TV box, AV Receiver, amp, Bluesound, Sonos, whatever...) will be located in a ventilated space together.

Thanks again for everyone's help - I already know a lot more than yesterday and it's all thanks to you guys.


With HT Processor or AV Receiver, you can play the same source to both Zone 1 and Zone 2 at the same time.  Or you can play different sources t Zone 1 and Zone 2.  Zone 2 is handled completely separately from Zone 1 in the processor/receiver.  It doesn't matter what source you choose for each zone.

Like others have said, there could be different equipment you could use, like putting a Bluesound in each room.  It can be cheaper, but there are also features that you might not have when compared to processor/receiver.

Here is a simple, easy to use setup for two zones, however the kitchen will be Zone 1, and the living room will be Zone 2.

Zone 1 (kitchen) - Use this Yamaha R-S500 stereo receiver for the in-ceiling speakers,

or you could use the stepup model R-S700. Connect the music audio files and satellite radio to the inputs of the Yamaha. This is assuming you were currently these sources in a manner with analog outputs to your 2 channel preamp. If not, then a conversion will be necessary.

Zone 2 (living room) - Connect your current amp/preamp to the in-wall speakers/sub as you described with L&R audio out from TV to the preamp. Then connect zone 2 output from the Yamaha to an input on your current preamp.

This will allow you to play as you described, different sources or simultaneously.

They do make 2 channel multi room receivers that will handle this.  The problem is that you want to use your parasound preamp.

Here is what I would do:  
Buy a Yamaha, Denon or Onkyo multi room receiver.
Use the Parasound as a source as well as any other sources you may wish.
The multi-room receiver can usually send different signals to 2 or 3 rooms.
In each room you will want an IR repeater and probably a volume control.  Niles works great.  My Denon actually came with 2 remotes for this purpose.
You will now maintain the quality system in Zone 1 but will be able to merge it with Zone 2 if you like.  Check Crutchfield for ideas.

I have a Denon 3 zone with amps an IR repeaters in zones all over my house.  Adding bluetooth was great.  My phone plays wireless in any room I wish.
For me, I would drop Sirius/XM and get a Spotify premium account. The sound quality is much, much better, and the music selection is just as complete. 
Hey, if we are bashing Sirius (which deserves bashing), I'd go with Tidal.
Hello. I am the original poster and I want to thank everyone for their very detailed responses. I truly wouldn't have been able to solve this without your help. 

In combination with the Parasound amp and pre-amp, I went with the NAD C356BEE integrated amp with built in DAC module. The NAD will drive four speakers at the same time which will be perfect for the four in-ceiling speakers in zone 2 (the kitchen).

I also plan to get an Audioengine B1 bluetooth wireless receiver. This unit will send output signals to both Parasound preamp (using RCA cables) and the NAD Integrated amp (using toslink cable) simultaneously. Although it will be rare that I play the same audio in both zone 1 (living room) and zone 2 (kitchen) at the same time. But I believe I will accomplish this flexibility. I believe the B1 receiver will also allow my wife to watch her TV shows on her iPad in the kitchen while having the iPad audio play through the ceiling speakers instead of the iPad speakers - this would be a big win!

Lastly, I will run a separate USB cable through the walls from NAD to the kitchen just in case the quality of the bluetooth audio from the B1 is unacceptable (to me).

One question - where do you guys typically locate the IR repeater sensor in the kitchen area?

Thanks again for everyone's advice - I really appreciate it. This is what makes Audiogon so special!

I ran my phone with Tidal through a B1 to a Chord Hugo and it was amazing!  
The IR repeater should go in the most logical place to point your remote.  If you don't want extra holes, run it with the speaker wire and hide it behind the grill.  Personally, I wanted a volume control with my IR.  Niles units are great.
Thanks for your help elevick - much appreciated!