the most important part of the system. The electronic parts are to work without influencing the sound & by & large do so. No speaker is perfect & each brand has its own characteristic sound. The speakers are your most individual selection.

You must get out & give a serious listen to some decent speaker possibilities After some initial confusion, one speaker will stand out as your best overall choice. Best Buy is one place that pushes Klipsch. Give them a good listen to as, even though I love their flagship model, I feel what typically is in stores sounds harsh, but it is your ears at issue here.

Speakers may seem expensive up front, but unlike the receiver for instance, aren't influenced much by technological change. They don't just wear out & will last for at least a decade. Because I espouse them as most important, they are worthwhile upgrading the budget more so than your relatively modest receiver needs. A quick course in acquainting yourself with nice speakers is an article that addressed bookshelf speakers under $1000. Check it out at: http://magazine.playbackmag.net/playback/200802/?u1=texterity

Then go see what is available in your area. Take a CD your are intimately familiar with which has significant vocals. Rock 'n roll is a poor choice as it is mixed in unpredictable ways. Take simple notes as confusion comes so easily. Vocals are mid-range frequencies but are surprisingly difficult to reproduce well. Trust your instincts. If you think you just heard distortion, you did. So the vocal issue comes before considering highs & lows.

Get beyond the Best Buy selection & seek out independent dealers with experience. They have already survived he invasion of the big boxes. They typically know more. They don't carry tons of brands but usually have at least one brand that will expand your horizons.

In summary, I consider speakers most important. Get out & seek listening to some good ones. They are to please your ears; mine are irrelevant. The goal is your enjoyment.

I would rather see people start with just two ( the front L&R) & add on later when budget allows for what ever surround setup you would like. Hope this gives you a good start.