Refurbished can mean that the unit was defective and sent back to the manufacturer to be refurbished or it could just be somebody didn't know how to work something and returned it. The refurbs from A4L have a 1 year warranty on them so if there is a problem you can get it fixed. Also Amazon will have good deals on open box items sometimes and you can get a pretty good deal there. That’s how I got my Denon 3311 for a great price and it looked brand new.
The receivers you listed are entry level receivers that don't really have much to them. I would look at something that at least comes with Audyssey auto setup as it made a big difference with my system. A good option would be the Denon 1713 or last years 1712. It comes with Audyssey MutlEQ XT which is a really nice feature to have, especially if you don't have an SPL meter. The 1613 would also work but try to stretch for the 17 series if you can.
No, 7.1 is not required for small rooms.
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