A Good Home Theater WTF


I had such a miserable experience this past weekend that I feel compelled to share. At the very least, it might warn people of a potential situation that could end up ruining their plans or costing them more money than necessary. At best, it provides a good WTF story.

Background: gf's dad was planning on renovating his basement to make it a family room/bar/entertainment room/home theater.

He's a lifelong die-hard NY Jets fan, a season ticket holder as long as I've known him, and goes to every home game with his group of family and friends who are also Jets fans. In all, they tailgate with about a dozen people prior to each game, and have been doing this for years. His hope, I believe, was to be able to setup something where he could entertain the group during the road games, but keep the fun atmosphere of the home game tailgating parties.

So, about a year and a half ago, he mentioned to me that he'd like to setup a home theater once the basement is renovated, which was about to kick into gear. So, I helped him spec out a bunch of good quality equipment to handle everything from movies to sports to music. Not audiophile quality, but higher-end than him or his group was used to, and more than sufficient for their needs.

Whatever he needs, I ordered. I made sure that no stone was left unturned, so there would be no surprises when it came to hooking everything up, and that it would be everything he wanted. He ended up getting a fairly nice setup, but also waited for deals to come around for each of the components, so he paid rock bottom prices for high-end consumer grade equipment.

He ended up with the following:
Harman/Kardon AVR 520 7.1 receiver
Pioneer Elite DV-45a Progressive Scan DVD/DVD-A/SACD player
Klipsch KSSB1 bookshelf speakers (mains)
4x Klipsch Quintet (surrounds)
Infinity IL25C center
Infinity IL120 12" subwoofer

Fast forward to now.

The basement finally got finished, long after much of the equipment had been purchased. The stuff sat in boxes waiting for the day when the basement would be ready, the tile laid down, the electric lines run, the cable installed down there, etc. Everything was finished just in time to try to hook up everything for the Super Bowl.

He also finally found a good enough deal on a 42" HD plasma set he liked, so placed the order. That ended up being a problem because he had apparently picked out a well-reviewed Hitachi that had gotten recalled (although I can still find no evidence of a manufacturer recall), but the company offered to substitute a higher-priced Sony Wega plasma set for the same price.

So, I go over to hook everything up for him, since he self-admitted that he had no idea what to do with any of it. After roughly 20 hours, spread out over 3 days, of assembly, unpacking, drilling holes in walls, wall-mounting speakers, and hooking up everything, I was finally ready for the final step of hooking up all of the speakers into the receiver.

Just as an FYI, at the time of purchase, the H/K AVR 520 was one step below H/K's flagship receiver, so it was one model below their top-of-the-line product. This will help to explain the ensuing frustration and anger.

At this point, I'm on the floor, reaching around to the back of the AVR to try to see where to plug in the speakers, only to find that there are only 5 sets of speaker outputs on this 7.1 receiver. I now think that I'm missing something really important, so I head to the manual.

In the 56-page manual, there is only the following small paragraph which states the following:
11. If a 7.1 channel source device is connected as noted in the item above, you must use an optional audio power amplifier for those channels. Connect the SBL and SBR Preamp Outputs to the inputs of the amplifier
feeding those channels' speakers.

Had I not dissected the wording of that, I would not have realized that they made a 7.1 receiver with only a 5.1 amplifier. If you want to use full 7.1 operation, you need to hook up a separate amp to even be able to use the rear 2 channels. The only reason they're able to call it a 7.1 receiver at all is because it includes 7.1 pre-amp outputs and will do the decoding for 7.1 . Out of the box, however, it's only a 5.1 receiver.

This was a unit that listed for $900, and even with the deal we found for over $550, it was still an expensive unit, especially considering that it would only do 5.1 without having to spend extra on an external amp. Considering the price range, you would at least expect it to work as advertised out of the box.

I've never seen any other company do this. I own an excellent Denon AVR that advertises itself as 7.1 and has a built-in 7.1 amp. My father owns a Marantz amp that advertises itself as 7.1 and has a built-in 7.1 amp. Every 7.1 AVR I've ever seen has come with a built-in 7.1 amp.

Based on this, I will never purchase, nor recommend, another Harman/Kardon product. I never really thought too much of them before this incident, and I feel that what occurred was nothing more than deceptive marketing aimed at taking advantage of less-knowledgable consumers, as well as confusing experienced, knowledgable consumers, in an attempt to require them to purchase additional expensive equipment. It was, unfortunately, too late for her dad to return the unit, as he had it sitting in his home for over a year, but perhaps some of you can learn from his misfortune and avoid the same kind of disappointment and frustration.


that's shitty, just find a group of people that bought that POS and file a class action lawsuit. I'm sure there's plenty of scummy lawyers that want a piece of that action.


Fresh Meat
Seriously, you f***ing americans... there are far more concerning matters in the world. you think we british people are behind you.. well we're not. Your president is thick, and clearly so are you... get a life, wake up to whats going on in the world... and FUCK OFF.


Ultra Mega
welcome slipmatt! it sounds like you'll be a wonderful contributor, what with all your angst and whatnot


Professional Deviate
I'd find the barstard who sold it to you and steal the drive shaft off his car :D

Should take the mongrel a little while to figure out why his car isnt moving.


In Memory...
Premier said:
I'd find the barstard who sold it to you and steal the drive shaft off his car :D

Should take the mongrel a little while to figure out why his car isnt moving.

that is fucking great, me need more people like this guy in the world. Seriously.