I have a question for all you (and that's pretty much everyone) who knows more about speaker systems and the like than I do.
I'm in the process of buying a new house (yay). If all goes well, we should close in 2 weeks.
This will be my first ever house after living in apartments since leaving my folk's house and going to college many years ago. We still have an old CRT TV and I figured this would be a good time to get myself an actual honest to goodness home theater system (well a cheap one). Up till now, I've just had a stereo in a box kind of thing and ran the tv sound on the tv's speakers. Our dvd player died about a month ago, and I don't want to move this monstrosity of a tv (even though it's only 27", it weighs roughly a metric ton. Also, currently, our living room is also our office so we watch streaming stuff by running composite video and audio along the floor to the front of the TV from our computer which my wife thinks is a crazy ugly setup and she hates. So it seems things are perfectly set up for me to try out getting something much nicer (plus electronics are cheap this time of year).
My plan was this: get a nice blu-ray player with built in wifi to use as my streaming device (already on its way), get a cheap dump HDTV of appropriate size (will be mounted on a wall, so I need to get into the house again to measure the appropriate size) with good picture where I don't care about smart features as I'll stream through the above blu-ray player and I don't care about sound because I'll use something else to handle my sound, and then get a moderate quality receiver and some decent but inexpensive speakers to handle sound and music and all that. Sound reasonable?
So here's my main query. Two other rooms in the house, (master bedroom and another second floor bedroom currently set up as an office) have speakers and volume controls built into the walls/ceiling and are run from the main stereo in the living room. So, if I want to use them, I need to get a receiver that has zone 2/3 capability. Sounds good. But is there a way to tell if there's an amp hooked to the speakers or not? Does the volume control imply that there is?
I see a lot of cheaper receivers that have zones 2 and 3 only have at most one of them powered or they both might just be line out whereas more expensive ones can do either powered or line out for the other zones. Because we have other expenses and I'm trying to do this as inexpensively as possible to keep my wife on board with the project (she'd prefer a new dining room table or guest bed as higher priorities), if I can get away with the cheaper receiver that doesn't need to power the other zones, I'd prefer to do that (assuming minimal loss in other features/quality).
tl/dr:how can I tell (if it's not easily visible) if speakers in other rooms for a central stereo receiver are hooked up to their own amps or not?