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If you are going to go strictly with two channel your money would be much better spent buying an integrated amp used in the $1500- $1750 range and spending $250 on a used tuner. The $250 you would spend on a used tuner would give you every bit as good as the tuner section in a receiver. The quality of integrated amp you can buy in the $1500- $1750 range will out perform the amp section of the receivers you mentioned.
I'm one of the lucky ones who has a complete system dedicated to music on the lower level of our home, and a separate system for surround sound video on the main level. I've been very happy with my Integra 5.1 multi-zone receiver for many years now, and from what I've been reading, the quality of the Integra (and Onkyo, its parent company) receivers have gotten even better. My Integra works very nicely with my Paradigm apeakers in our TV room. You may want to investigate these two brands. Good Luck, and Happy Listening.
For stereo sound quality, the best 5.1 avr is the Arcam avr 350, without a doubt. You should be able to purchase a used one (maybe even a new one since they don't offer hdmi audio processing) for what you are willing to spend without much effort. Every evaluation I have read and performed my self has shown the Arcam avr 350 to have a leg up on all the competition. However, like I said, this is an older unit and does not offer hdmi audio. You can still get hd playback with analogue transmission. That's what I do and it works just fine.
Thanks for all the input so far. I looked at Outlaw Audio but have ruled them out due to lack of HDMI. The Arcam is definitely intriguing, if pricier. Of the more mainstream brands, is it then consensus that Onkyo/Integra is the brand to get? I had been leaning toward Denon or Sony actually, but they don't seem to be recommended as much.