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March 2011 Issue #043 -- AV Receiver Guides and Flat-panel HDTV Installation


Issue # 043: What's New

Date: 25th March 2011

The Practical HT Guide Update brings you the latest additions in a series of informative home theater design articles, unbiased system reviews, practical guidelines and free advice.


Welcome to Issue 43 of the Practical HT Guide Update

In this issue:

Home Theater Receivers: What to look for when making a purchase

Onkyo TX-NR708 3D-Compatible 7.2 Home Theater Receiver with Network Support

Onkyo TX-NR708 7.2-Channel 3-D Compatible Network AV Receiver

A big screen HDTV is not enough to enjoy a truly immersive home cinema experience. You need surround sound, and the best way to get surround sound is by investing in a home theater receiver. A home-theater-in-a-box solution would get you there but not if sound quality matters.

We admit that for many, choosing the best AV receiver for your needs from the numerous models and brands available is not easy.

For this purpose, we have published an easy-to-follow guide that explains what should be your main considerations when making a home theater receiver purchase. In particular, we explain what are the features to look for in an AV receiver to get the best deal out of your money while future-proofing your purchase. We also touch upon the subject of home theater receivers versus separate components setup - explaining the pros and cons of each.

For more information, please refer to our article:
Home Theater Receivers: A Complete Guide

5.1 vs. 7.1 Home Theater Receivers: Which is Better?

Many are often faced with the dilemma of whether they should choose a 5.1-channel home theater receiver, or move forward with a 7.1-channel solution. Sales reps would often direct you to the more expensive 7.1-channel home theater receiver, but which is really the right solution for you?

The reality is that both systems are capable of delivering a truly immersive sound stage. Obviously, there are a few differences - in particular, 7.1-channel receiver systems are generally more suited for the larger room environment. But both support the necessary speaker setup for a more than convincing surround sound experience.

Yet the whole 5.1- vs. 7.1-channel AV receiver dilemma arises because the whole issue is not just a matter of room size - in particular if available budget is not a limiting factor.

Discover more in our article:
5.1- vs. 7.1-Channel Home Theater Receivers: Which AV Receiver is Right for You?

Suggested further reading:

Amplifier Power: How Much is Enough? Audio amplifier power is often a grossly misunderstood term by users and abused by manufacturers.

At the same time, determining the amount of amplifier power necessary to match your expected level of loudness or listening pattern, is critical for both an enjoyable listening experience in the home theater, as well as for the safety of your gear - speakers and amplifier alike. Discover more here.

Understanding Amplifier Specs: Discover how the different specs relate to an amplifier's ability to deliver adequate audio power and sound quality.

Best AV Receivers: Top Midrange Home Theater Receivers

Which are the best home theater receivers that delivery the best deal for your money? And why choosing the mid-range home theater receiver category as our target for this home theater receiver review?

Well, output power and sound quality are generally not issues worth worrying about even with entry-level receivers, yet it is the mid-range AV receiver that in our opinion, delivers more value for your money.

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Home Theater Receiver

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1-channel Network and 3D-compatible AV receiver with iPod connectivity, excellent sound and a great user interface.

We review the top three mid-range receivers. These include the Pioneer VSX-1020-K, which in our opinion is the best AV receiver for overall value and performance; this is now being replaced by the Pioneer VSX-1021-K in the new 2011 lineup, but the 1020 is still an extremely valid option especially at its present reduced online price.

We also review the Onkyo TX-NR708 - which is the receiver that excels in overall feature set at this price bracket, and the Harman Kardon AVR-3600 - a somewhat expensive home theater receiver with respect to the rest, but one that excels in audio and video performance, and in built-up quality.

More information on these mid-range home theater receivers is available in our review here: Best AV Receivers

SUBMIT a Home Theater Receiver Review
Note that if you would like, you may also submit a review of your latest home theater receiver purchase to be featured on our site, or share your views about the AV receivers reviewed in our article.

Rest assured that by sharing your first hand experience with our readers, you will be helping others make a better choice when selecting their AV receiver. So, go ahead and spill the beans to help the many readers that access this website. Click here for details

 Wall-mounting an HDTV over the Fireplace

Plasma over the fireplace: Picture courtesy of

[Picture courtesy of]

Installing your flat-panel HDTV over the fireplace in the living room is a popular and attractive way to display a plasma pr LCD/LED TV.

It is also a great installation option that can easily integrate your new flat-panel TV with the rest of the room decor.


There are a number of considerations that come into play here, like...

  • Will the heat from the fireplace damage the HDTV?

  • How should one mount the plasma or LCD over the fireplace?

  • Wouldn't the HDTV be too high when it is placed over the mantle?

  • When is such a job left to a professional installer?

We discuss these issues and more in our HDTV installation guide: Installing a Plasma over the Fireplace.

This article mainly refers to plasma HDTVs, but the whole discussions applies equally well to any flat-panel TV - including LCD and even more so, LED HDTVs. Rather, the latter make the whole installation less of a problem thanks to their significantly lighter weight in comparison to plasma and even LCD HDTVs. More details here.



Hope you will enjoy and profit from these additions to our site.

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