Wow, they really weren't kidding when they said the people here were extremely helpful, thats 3 comprehensive responses in a matter of hours.
So first and foremost, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
I feel like each of you deserve one because there was invaluable information in each of your responses. Unfortunately though, this prompts another wave of questions so I will quote the points I am still unsure about.
1) HD Projectors, a lot of great choices out there, 3D will cost you more for a really good picture as far as brightness (keep in mind with the shutter glasses, you effectively cut the lumens in half since only one shutter is open at a time, so a higher costing 3D projector will have considerably better 3d imagery vs. a lower cost one, however, there are some $1500 3D projectors coming out right now.
3) An 18x12x8 room is just over 1700 cubic feet. A 12" sub would be nice, but since the low bass sounds are what will annoy your neighbors the most (see comment #2 above and my other post), a 10" may work just fine.
4b) I've had direct radiating (bookshelf), di-pole, bi-pole, and quad-pole (like the QS series) surround speakers, and especially for movies, the QS speakers are the best. Mulitchannel music is more designed for precision mixes coming from very distinct locations, but for movies, you want a wider sound field the the QS speakers give.
It kind of sounds like you are leaning towards the 8350 since true, high quality 3D projectors are going to be in a completely different price bracket. I have no problem with sticking with the 8350, especially since I don't know how many of my connecting devices would even support 3D. The only reason I entertained the idea of buying one of the new 3010s is simply because it is brighter and in my experience with buying monitors, the brightness is what I primarily care about. (Assuming of course the color depth isnt bad)
While I don't want to upset my neighbor (I only have once since were on an end apartment), I also don't want the subwoofer to be sub-par when it comes to the rest of the system. If I get M60s, QS8s, and the VP180, I wouldn't be insulting the speakers by getting a 10" would I?
Also, thanks for the info on the surround speakers, I did a little research on what the di-pole and bi-pole terms meant and it makes much more sense now.
2. The receivers you mention can be considered as essentially equal as to basic power amplification. Yes, your receiver should have MultEQ, but even better, should have the more advanced MultEQ XT, which the 709 does and the 5005 doesn't. A very good buy on the 709 factory refurb(which should be at least as reliable as a brand-new unit)is available for about $530 from Accessories4less
3. Other factors being equal, a larger driver in a sub results in a lower bass extension and the ability to play louder, but other factors often aren't equal, and some 10" subs outperform some 12" models. In the price range you're looking at with the Lava(about $350)I'd suggest that you consider the excellent Hsu STF-2.
If you guys can swear by the refurb quality from that provider, then I will trust it, but after having worked in retail, that was something I was always told to stay away from. Would the unit still come with a warranty or would it be through the distributor?
I have heard some great things from HSU as well, but I was under the impression that they were more expensive, I will definitely look into this.
First off, I have had great luck with a refurb Onkyo 805 that I bought. If I were in your situation, my experience would lead me to the 709 that John linked. I don't think you can do better for the money.
I very strongly urge you to just go 5.1 and use the QS8's for surround. When I went from 5.1 to 7.1 (QS8's both surround and rear) I did not experience the sort of quantum-leap in sound field I hoped for. The QS speakers are so good that a 5.1 system with them is very enveloping.
You didn't really talk about the center channel, but I would consider just getting the VP180 and be done with it. Yes, it's huge, but you'll never wonder "what if". By all accounts, it is significantly "better" than the VP150, so if you have the space, just do it.
Thanks for reassuring me about the refurb part, after having worked in retail, I realize I was just taught to be paranoid I guess. Would there be any warranty still available if I do purchase a refurb from them? How does the warranty through ac4l.com work?
I am sold on the QS8s per the unanimous preference for them.
I didn't talk about the center channel because I assumed that if I choose the M60s, then the appropriate center channel would be the VP150. Now you guys are suggesting the 180 and the Axiom rep actually suggested the 100. I was ok with the 100 or 150, but over $700 is a lot for one speaker. I don't know the significance of the center speaker though, I thought it just needed to match your front left and right.
Thanks again Nick, John, and Tom for the responses. You three have already given me a heck of a lot more to research.