I haven't read this thread other than your two posts, but I'd like to make a recommendation or three that I doubt will be similar to anything you've been told before.
theorigamist wrote:My parents want to get a set of speakers that will be better than the built in speakers of their HDTV. I think they would rather have 2.1 than 5.1, since they probably don't care too much about surround sound and they won't want cables going around the room. They also need a separate set of speakers/CD player for their living room. The goal for this set of speakers is good sound quality (these will be used mostly for classical music) and a small footprint.
I don't care for "surround sound" at all. I'm an audio nut, and I think you can do a lot better for a lot less than what box systems offer. Primarily, subwoofers that you can afford are garbage. Just don't even bother, you're better off without bass than the one overboosted frequency that gets shat out of these boxes from Best Buy.
For the TV, I'd recommend this
if they want/need HDMI etc for the TV. Even if the TV has enough inputs there can still be difficulties with outboard audio (obv they design this in so you'll need a receiver).
Sony wrote: * 100-watt 5-channel audio receiver
* Sony unique chassis design
* 5 HD inputs (3 passive HDMI and 2 component inputs)
* HD film quality with 24p true cinema video signal via HDMI technology
* Multi function audio port (digital media port)
If they don't need that, Sony actually still sells a 2-channel receiver.
I see that's the receiver you listed. I really think the HDMI switching and center channel potential are worth the price hike.
For speakers I think Yamaha has some of the best sounding speakers for the dollar. I've also heard some great JBLs that were affordable. This is not a broad-stroke recommendation, though. I have an older model of these
and I can say I've never heard a speaker so transparent for the money. $100 a pair, it's a good shot. Not a lot of bass but what they make is completely natural-sounding and articulate. This
would be nice to go with them, 3-channel TV can help with the seamless "sounds like you're there" thing. That claims to be both acoustic suspension and bass reflex, though, which is weird. I highly recommend acoustic suspension in the lower levels of speaker design.
As for the other system, I'd hit ebay, pawn shops, garage sales, whatever. I'm a bit of a junky. Right now I have a "real" system (Carver amp MartinLogan speakers), a TV system (Yamaha receiver, NAD amp, and Mirage speakers), a computer system (Yamaha amp and those Yamaha speakers) spare computer system (Advent amp and JBL speakers), garage system (KLH speakers and a sony receiver). Most of this stuff I've collected used, and on the cheap. If you don't have some sort of definite time frame of need, I'd shop around used.
Edit: Forgot the Primary Law of Audio. Speakers are everything
. You'd be better off buying $500 speakers and a boom box with RCA outs than a shiny $300 amp and $200 speakers. Think of it like the tires on a race car, 800 bhp ain't going anywhere on space-saver spares; but the spares don't just affect power, they ruin cornering and braking, too. There are a few models of speakers from the olden days that are bank-busting on your budget, but going used and being patient you could make an earth-shattering, symphony-simulating monster for well under a grand. Also, this audiogon site is the bombshitdiggity for used audio. It's like ebay for smart people (usually). Dahlquist DQ-20Vandersteen 2
(2c, ce, etc) Several listed. MartinLogan
will utterly blow your mind (with sufficient amplification) and they're getting to the $600 range for Aerius or Sequel models. I will reiterate, these need amps. Big ones.