When I bought my most recent A/V receiver two years ago 5.1 was the norm. But my new Yamaha was capable of 7.1 so I thought I had future-proofed myself for the next few years. Never mind that I am only using 5.1 of it, it was the fact that I COULD do 7.1 that gave me a smug feeling.
Then the other day I learned that some receivers are starting to ship with 9.2 and even 11.2! Seriously?! I don’t even know where I would put those extra 2-4 surround speakers. I have the perfect spot for a second sub-woofer though. And, yes, I know I can add a second sub now and do 5.2, or 7.2 if I added 2 more surrounds. Bass is mono so it can be split with a Y-cable.
But, 9.2 and 11.2 intrigued me, so I looked into it. I tried to find the configuration of where to place the speakers in a 9.2 and 11.2 setup. Apparently there aren’t too many people doing it though, because diagrams were tough to find. But I did find a pretty good one from Yamaha for 11.2.
So, the front and rear “presence” speakers are what take 7.x to 9 and 11. In the picture above I noticed that both subs were placed in front near the left and right speakers. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s a necessary location. In my experience subs can be moved around. Their sound is not directional. As for which speakers (front or rear presence) can be removed to go to 9.x I don’t know and perhaps it doesn’t really matter. It may be a matter of taste.
So what receivers can pump out this kind of sound? A quick search turned up one.
The one I found (and not just because I’m a Yamaha fanboy) is the Yamaha RX-Z11BL which can be had from Amazon for a mere $3,298. For your money you get 4 zones, 1,180 watts (140w x 7 + 50w x 4), HDMi 1.3a, and a LAN port for PC hookup to stream your music. And that’s just the beginning of the spec sheet.
I didn’t search too far or too deep, but I didn’t find any others. I’m sure they are out there, though. I would be shocked if the other big boys weren’t keeping pace with Yamaha. I checked Harman Kardon, though, without luck. No luck, either, with Denon (they had 9.3 though), Onkyo, or Pioneer.
So, do I really need one? Probably not. Do I want one? Desperately! I was actually trolling for a new receiver for the past few months. I was looking at Yamaha and Harman Kardon and leaning towards the HK. Now I am torn. As I said, I haven’t even hooked up speakers 6 and 7 or sub .2, but if I could future proof to 11.2 with my next purchase then maybe I should…