Look on eBay for a yamaha CR640 or 820.. up to CR2040. There are usually a few on there in good shape. They were made in the late 70s or early 80s, and have a nice phono stage. They are usually going for $100 or less, and I promise you there is no better receiver to be had for anywhere near that money. I owned one when they first came out, it was awesome. I have bought 2 since then for folks like you looking for an inexpensive receiver with good sound quality. You will not be disappointed in one of these. There was one listed here, but it was listed for $350. Probably still listed, I saw it yesterday. Even at that price, I would say you would be very happy.
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The Onkyo A-9555 should be a good choice. The link is to a Stereophile review. I've owned one and was very impressed by the sound and the build quality, though I didn't try the phono stage. List price is $800 but they're generally available around your $500 limit.
Plenty of watts for 500 bucks get a Sansui integrated , the AU 719 or717 and pocket some cash for a better phono. Or go crazy and buy the 919 or 9090 integrated reciever. The 85 watt rating on the 717 is the the smallest number i think that could be assigned . Also if you want to go slightly better vintage the Nikko 220 with meters power amp you guessed it 200 wpc with an Tandberg pre which has mm and mc is a pretty good stuff. If you want to stay with a company still stading a used Chinese hybrid integrated with a small phono box is nice. I have a .....
05-29-09: SfarI've been listening to one for 10 months, and the phono stage is also quite excellent for high output cartridges. How good? I threw my Cambridge 640P over for the Onkyo's built-in phono stage, it's clearly that much better. The Onkyo has more subtlety, more micro-dynamics. It's really quite something for an integrated that does so many things so well, and is available for a little under $500.