Best Multi-Zone Receiver: With Multi Zone Set-up Guide for Different Model 

The best multi-zone receiver is one that has at least 2 to 3 zones and offers flexibility in setup and control. In most cases, you need to look into the instructions to get familiar with them. For most people Zone 2 and Zone 3 is sufficient. 

While choosing the best multi-zone receiver, try to figure out your requirements. You will find some receivers only allow analog audio. If you want to have both audio and video in the second zone, make sure the receiver supports it.

The multi-zone receiver will allow seamless playback throughout the house. You can play both the main zone and Zone 2 in the same room. However, in most cases, zones are used to play audio in different places or rooms of the house. 

Multi-Zone Receiver Review:

We have selected some of the best multi-zone receivers among many and illustrated a detailed comparison and review. These multi-zone receiver reviews will assist you to select the best one for your needs.

Feature
Denon S-750H
Sony STR-ZA3100ES
Marantz S7015
Yamaha RX2080
No of zones 
2
2/3
2/3
2/3/4
Connection type
Powered Multi-room Audio Output
speaker, preout
Speaker / Preout
Preout/HDMI, Pre out, HDMI
Wireless multi-room audio
HEOS built-in
MusicConnect
HEOS
MusicCast
Feature
Denon S-750H
No of zones 
2
Connection type
Powered Multi-room Audio Output
Wireless multi-room audio
HEOS built-in
Feature
Sony STR-ZA3100ES
No of zones 
2/3
Connection type
speaker, preout
Wireless multi-room audio
MusicConnect
Feature
Marantz S7015
No of zones 
2/3
Connection type
Speaker / Preout
Wireless multi-room audio
HEOS
Feature
Yamaha RX2080
No of zones 
2/3/4
Connection type
Preout/HDMI, Pre out, HDMI
Wireless multi-room audio
MusicCast

Denon S-750H: Best Affordable Multi-Zone Receiver

Based on performance to price ratio, Denon S-750H is the clear winner. If you satisfied with Zone 2 only, this receiver will suit you. It has a smooth and warm sound. It can produce immersive 3-dimensional surround sound. You can stream from major sources like Pandora, Amazon, Tidal or enjoy gaming with ALLM.

Sony STR-ZA3100ES: Best 3-Zone Receiver

You can use eight-port Ethernet hub receiver for 9.2 channels. It supports 3 zones where you can enjoy both audio and video in Zone 2. The setup procedure is quite easy. Along with Dolby Atmos and DTS, it has IMAX Enhanced for better sound clarity and dynamics. It has excellent color contrast and smooth gradation. 

Yamaha RX2080: Best 4-Zone Receiver

This high-end receiver will serve you 4 zones with audio and video in Zone 2 and 4. With 9.2 channels you can create powerful surround sound along with Atmos effect. Unlike others, it offers you wireless surround sound. It has 140W per channel which is powerful enough to run bookshelf speakers or tower speakers

Denon AVR-S750H 7.2 Channel

Specifications:

  • 4k UHD video
  • 6 HDMI in, 1 out, HDCP 2.3
  • Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, 
  • Audyssey MultEQ and setup Assistant
  • HDR 10, HLG, Dolby Vision

Product Differentiator:

I analyze atleast fifty different model of multi-zone receiver from different brand and explained categorically which things make the difference from one model to another model.

Compatibility:

This Denon multi-zone receiver supports major features like the Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos height virtualization, DTS: X, DTS Virtual: X. it is quite versatile as it is compatible with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and Amazon Alexa.

You can use the 7 channels to create a 5.1.2 system or use it for a 5.1-ch setup and use the extra two channel for zones.  It is compatible with powered bookshelf speakers, in-wall or in-ceiling speakers.

Multi-zone Feature:

The Denon receiver supports only Zone 2. This means you can use the receiver to play 5.1 or 5.2 as a main room setup and use the surround back speaker outputs for Zone 2. Here you will not need any external amplifier.

You can play Main Zone audio source in the Zone 2 simultaneously using the All Zone Stereo function. Here, you don’t need to worry about the audio source type. The function ensures audio synchronization is maintained throughout the zones.

At this price point, it is one of the best receiver for multi-room speakers. While using this function, you can select two spund modes: MultiCh Stereo and Stereo.  There is no line level output for Zone 2. It is not compatible with optical/coaxial digital and HDMI audio sources.

The Zone 2 works with the following inputs:

  • Analog Audio Inputs along with phono, 
  • AM/FM Tuner, you need to choose same station for each zone
  • USB & Bluetooth Audio
  • HEOS Music Apps like Pandora, Tidal, etc, 
  • Network Sources like TuneIn Internet Radio, Spotify Connect, AirPlay, DLNA. You need to choose same network source for all zone.

The Denon 7.2 multi-zone receiver also has HEOS built-in which means you can connect to several HEOS compatible speakers. You can connect up to 32 HEOS speaker. Installing HEOS app in your smartphone makes it easy to control zones and audio files easily. 

With HEOS, you can add up to 8 speakers in a group and create a maximum of 16 groups with 2 speakers each. HEOS works with the following sources:

  • Analog input of receiver
  • AM/FM Tuner
  • HDMI, optical/coax digital inputs
  • TuneIn Internet Radio & Spotify Connect
  • HEOS music apps
  • Bluetooth & USB audio
  • Music libraries
  • Music server

Multi-zone Setup:

From the menu, set the ‘Assign mode’ to Zone 2. Check the rear side of the Denon multi-room receiver for Surround back R and L to connect to the speakers in Zone 2. 

Use the remote control for Zone 2. For that, you need to press the Zone 2 button at the top. Then you can turn on/off using power button. To select an input source, see the remote control input source buttons. 

Once you select Zone 2 in the remote, use the master volume in the main unit or use volume buttons on the remote of the multi-zone Denon receiver to control volume.

multi-zone Denon receiver remote control

Pros:
  • No need of additional amp
  • Easy zone setup
  • Wireless HEOS multi-room audio
  • High-quality sound and excellent dynamic range
  • Supports ALLM
Cons:
  • Multi-zone doesn’t support digital inputs

Sony STR-ZA3100ES 7.2

Specifications: 

  • 4k upscaling and passthrough
  • HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
  • 6 HDMI in, 2 out, HDCP 2.2
  • built-in support for Control4, Crestron, Savant
  • dolby Atmos, DTS: X

Product Differentiator:

What need to consider or what makes the difference:

Compatibility:

The Sony receiver produces immersive 3D surround sound. You can easily create a 5.1.2 system with Dolby Atmos.  If you can’t use full 7 channel sound system, the phantom surround back channels will transform your 5.1 system to 7.1.4 system. Sony uses the DCAC EX which gives decent room-calibration results. 

The 4k upscaling along with HDR compatibility takes the receivers video quality to the next level. The ‘frame and beam’ chassis helps to avoid external sound pressure.

Multi-Zone:

The 7.2 Sony multi-zone receiver for home theater supports Zone 2 and Zone 3. Similar to Denon multi-zone receiver, the Sony can support 5.1 channel in main zone and 2 channels for Zone 2. If you follow this setup, you should change the SB Speaker Assign from the Setup Menu to Zone 2. 

Instead of using additional channels for Zone 2, you can use a receiver or amplifier by using the Zone 2 Audio Out port. If you want to see composite video images in the Zone 2, you can connect TV to the Video Out jack.

Using Zone 2 and Zone 3:

What makes this multi zone home theater receiver special is that, if you have higher demand, you can listen to music up to 3 different rooms. Setting up a 5.2 in main zone, Zone 2 with the extra two channels and for the third zone, you can use a receiver or amplifier via the Audio Out of Zone 3. 

Using Zone 2 and Zone 3

You can listen to same music in three rooms or you can enjoy different ones. This multi-room speaker receiver also allows to enjoy both audio and video in the Zone 2. For that, use a TV or receiver and connect it via the HDMI Out B jack (Zone 2).

For this setup, you need to go to HDMI Setup Menu and set the HDMI Out B to Zone 2 and the Zone 2 Audio Out to Zone2 Amp. 

Audio Out to Zone2 Amp

Zone 2 supports the following: 

  • BD/DVD
  • SAT/CATV
  • Game
  • STB
  • Video
  • AUX
  • TV
  • SA-CD/CD
  • FM/AM Tuner

The Zone 3 supports all the above sources except the first four.The user manual contains the details of the audio source inputs and their ports for both Zone 2 and 3. To listen to music from receiver in Zone 2, go to home menu and enable the Zone Control and Zone 2 Power.  

Choose your desired source signal to output in Zone 2. Initiate playing and adjust the volume of Zone 2. This can also be done using the remote control of the multi-zone AV receiver.

Sony 3-zone receiver also supports Music Connect which is a wireless feature for multi-room audio. It is compatible with Z-series AV receivers to use with the HAP-Z1ES Hi Res Audio player.

Pros

  • Both audio and video output to Zone 2
  • Supports Zone 2 and 3
  • Zone 2 supports TV and 5.1-ch system
  • Custom Preset 3 can be used for Zone 2
  • IP controls for home automation system

 

Cons

  • Nothing notable at this price point

Marantz AV receiver SR7015 9.2-ch receiver

Specifications:

  • 9.2-ch amp for large setup
  • 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through
  • HDR 10, HDR 10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
  • 8 HDMI input, 3 output

Product Differentiator:

The Marantz 3-zone receiver supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X and DTS Virtual: X, IMAX Enhanced. The audio and video codecs are up to date as a result they excel in both cases.

Based on these features and support of three zones, it is one of the best receiver for multiple zones.

Multi-Zone:

With 9.2-ch receiver, you can connect 7.2 setup in the main zone and use the additional two channels for speakers in Zone 2 or Zone 3. There is option where you can create a 5.1 sound setup in the main zone and connect the front speakers using bi-amp.

Then using the additional channels to connect the Zone 2. Finally, if you want to connect all two zones along with the main zone, you can build a 5.1 system for main zone and connect in a similar way for Zone 2 and Zone 3.  

Another way to connect both Zone 2 and Zone 3 while maintaining a 7.1 connection in the main zone is to connect 1 channel is each zone. Along with audio, you can also enjoy videos in Zone 2 and 3. Several zone setups makes it one of the best 3-zone receiver.

Multi-zone Setup:

While connecting Zone 2, on the rear side of the Marantz receiver, connect the Zone 2 R and L speaker on the Height 2 R and L ports.

Connecting Zone 2 and Zone 3 will look like the following picture:

Zone 2 and Zone 3

This time you need to connect the Zone 2 R and L speakers to the Height 1 R and L port. For Zone 3 R and L connections, use the Height 2 R and L ports.

use the Height 2 R and L ports

Having a 7.1 setup in the main zone and a single channel in each Zone 2 and 3 is another way to connect the speakers to the receiver. 

Connect the Zone 2 and 3 to the back of receiver on Height 1 and 2 port respectively.

Setting up an amplifier in Zone 2 or 3 can be done. In this case, you should use the Zone 2 and Zone 3 pre out connections. If you want to connect a TV and create a home theater in the main zone along with Zone 2 and 3, you can do so in the following ways:

  • HDMI ZONE2 connector

Here TV is connected to HDMI Zone 2 Out. Play video from the source connected to the HDMI 1 –6 IN connector in ZONE2 (HDMI ZONE2 function).

  • video output connector and speaker output connector
  • video output connector and external power amplifiers

the setup, ports and connections are shown in details in the Marantz user manual. Other variations of setup include: 

  • 7.1-ch in main zone, 2-ch in Zone 2 and a TV or 7.1-ch and 2-ch only in Zone 3
  • 7.1-ch in main zone, 1-ch and a TV in Zone 2 and 1-ch in Zone 3
  • 5.1-ch in main zone, 2-ch and a TV in Zone 2 and 2-ch in Zone 3

Multi-zone Control:

For controlling the zones, use the remote, press the Z2 or Z3 to activate the zones.

Pros

  • All Zone TV Audio and All Zone Stereo mode
  • HEOS wireless multi-room audio
  • Audyssey MultEQ with app
  • Audio and video compatibility in Zone 2
  • Detailed instruction for smooth setup

Cons

  • Costly 

Yamaha RXA2080 AVENTAGE 9.2

For users who need large setup throughout the house the 4 zones can be very helpful. You can enjoy movies in the main zone, and other people can enjoy music, radio or DVD audio in other 3 zones. 

Specifications: 

  • 1080p and 4k upconversion
  • DSP HD3 with Virtual Surround Back Speaker
  • dual ESS Sabre Premier 32-bit/384kHz digital-to-analog converters
  • HDMI 7input, 3 output, HDCP 2.3
  • HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision

The Yamaha multi-zone receiver RXA2080 model is a 4 zone AV receiver. The Yamaha RX-3080 9.2 model is also a 4 zone audio receiver. Cutting cords, you can build wireless surround with MusicCast 20 and MusicCast 50. Being in the Aventage series, the cabinet is specially designed to minimize resonance or vibrations. 

The multi-zone receiver with Bluetooth has 9.2-ch with which you can create 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.2 setups. The receiver supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The multi-zone receiver with Alexa makes control option easier.

Multi-zone

You can also enjoy both audio and video in other zones along with main zone. The Yamaha receiver also supports MusicCast. It allows you to increase wireless connection up to nine room. 

However, to enjoy wireless music throughout the house, you need to have Yamaha compatible wireless speakers and soundbars.  With MusicCast, you can enjoy music from library, internet radio, Bluetooth devices, CD, vinyl, etc. 

Multi-zone Setup:

let’s go through the multi-zone set-up process to make your connection process comfy.

For Zone 2 and 3: 

If you are connecting speakers to Zone 2 and 3, then use the Extra SP1 and Extra SP2 ports of the receiver. For this, you need go to Setting and configure the ‘Power Amp Assign’. Another way to connect Zone 2 and/or 3 is to use amplifier. 

Make the connection between the Audio input (analog stereo) and Zone out or Pre out of the receiver.

Audio and Video Setup:

If you want to connect TV along with speakers, you can do so in Zone 2 and 4. Connect the TV or video device with HDMI cable. Then connect the speakers or amplifier following the same way as mentioned above. 

 

Instead of adding more speakers, you can simply watch TV in Zone 2 or Zone 4 with an HDMI connection.

Controls:

With the use of an IR receiver/emitter, you can control the receiver from Zone 2, 3, or 4. To control zones using the remote, select the zone using Zone select. Push the power button to enable or disable the desired zone. 

Then use the input selection buttons or volume button on the remote. With HDMI zone switching, you can select analog or digital audio/video sources for Zone 2.

Pros

  • Zone 2, 3 along with main zone supports AirPlay
  • 4 zones av receiver ideal for large setups
  • Support both audio and video in Zone 2 and 4
  • Has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay2
  • Works with Alexa

Cons 

  • Zone 3 doesn’t support video

How I rated the Products:

After days or research, I realized features will vary according to a user’s need and their audio system setup. I rated the products in such a way that no matter what your setup is, you can easily understand what is important and choose accordingly.

Numbers of Zone

Multi-zone receiver and amplifier support up to 4 number of zones. Zone 2 and 3 are readily available. Based on your requirements look for the receiver and the number of zones it supports. A 7.1-ch receiver may support 5.1-ch for the main room and the other two ports for speakers in a second room. 

Again, a 7.1-ch receiver may support 7.1-ch for the main room and it that case connection will be different. Premium receivers may allow up to 2, 3 and 4 Zones.

Number of Speakers

This is related to number of channels in a receiver. If you have 5 speakers or want to create 5.1 surround sound system and you have plan to have only Zone 2, then you can choose a 7.1 receiver that allows 5.1-ch main room and Zone 2. 

Connection Types

In the example mentioned above with a 7.1-ch receiver, if it has 5.1-ch main room, then the receiver will use the additional channels for the second zone speakers. Whereas, if you have 7.1-ch receiver or 7.1-ch main room, the receiver will have preamp line output for Zone 2.

Receivers with 11.2-ch or 9.2-ch may also have 11.2 or 9.2-ch for main room and preamp output for other zones. 

Additional Device

You should be careful of whether you have the scope of budget to spend on additional devices. Certain receivers with preamp line output needs to be connected to an additional amplifier in a second room to connect Zone 2 devices.

Others may work with internal amplifiers. In that case, if the receiver supports Zone 2 and 3, it may allow you to connect via internal amplifier to the Zone 2. But for Zone 3, you will need an additional amplifier.

Wired or Wireless

Till now, we have explained the scenario of a wired connection to different zones from the receiver. To make things much easier, receivers comes with wireless connectivity. However, most receivers support devices from their brand which is not always feasible.

Denon and Marantz have HEOS wireless multi-room option.  Yamaha and Onkyo uses MusicCast and FireConnect respectively. There are other options like DTS Play-fi.

Features

If you are looking for a certain feature in the multi-room receiver, make sure your receiver supports it. Analog audio, several HDMI output and auto switching are some of the notable functions of the multi-zone option.

Parting Words:

If two or three zones doesn’t satisfy you, we recommend going for the high-end Yamaha Aventage A2080 multi-zone receiver. It is one of the best multi-zone audio receiver to serve up to 4 zones where Zone 2 and 4 support both audio and video. 

Having 3 or 4 zones doesn’t make a receiver the best, it still need to have excellent video quality and powerful surround sound. Height channels is another important part of a sound system. Compatibility of multi-zone receiver with Airplay, Bluetooth, and voice assistants are essential features these days. 

If you want a gaming receiver, make sure it supports ALLM, VRR and will support PS5 or Xbox X. If three zones can meet your requirements, we recommend you to choose one between Sony and Marantz multi-zone receiver.

Another way of enjoying multi-room audio with these receivers is to go wireless with their built-in features. Denon and Marantz have HEOS, Sony and Yamaha uses MusicConnect and MusicCast respectively.

FAQ

People Frequently ask on audio forum about multi-zone receiver.

What other factors to consider while buying the best multi-zone receiver?

Having one of the best multi-zone receiver will make sound playback easy, but there are several other factors to keep in mind while creating a home theater. Firstly, make sure the number of channel in the home theater is ideal for your room size. If you don’t have large space, don’t go for 7.2.6 setup.

The quality of speakers and subwoofers along with how you place speakers is equally important. This is because at the end of the day, the sound is going to be produced from he speakers and you will listen to them sitting in the room.  

How to setup volume in Sony receiver?

Multi zone receiver with app or remote control makes control easier. 

  • Go to the Home menu, then choose Setup > Zone Setup.
  • Choose either Zone 2 Line Out or Zone 3 Line Out
  • You can choose either Variable or fixed volume control