Best Pre/Pro for 2-channel stereo sound?

Instead of me building a new system all together, what would be the best Surr Proc/Pre to give me excellent 2 channel stereo reproduction? I will use it for movies with DD/DTS, but without very critical listening. on the other hand i want the best sound possible for 2-channel stereo/SACD. I would like to keep it under $2000 new or around $1000 used. any opinions would be appreciated.
In my own case, I adopted the approach taken by Albertporter (check out his system under virtual systems): I purchased a SONY ep9es here on audiogon for $275. This is a stand alone dolby digital preprocessor WITHOUT an internal preamp; it allows you to integrate your 2 channel system, including its high quality preamp into nice home theater without breaking the bank. It has outputs for 5.1 channels.
I just went through the same process and unfortunately I never found that perfect do-all pre/pro. For great 2 channel listening the best sound still has to be had from a good quality pre-amp. And in my case that came down to combining a tube pre with my SS amp. I then bought a less expensive processor for video purposes. B&K Ref30 which I have sold and am looking for another.

If you need to keep it simpler and MUST use only a processor the Bryston SP1.7 was a nice sounding unit. Many like the Sunfire Theather Grand 2 and 3. The Anthem and Proceed units also get good reviews.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a processor that really sounded as good to me as my choice of a tube pre.

Good Luck!!! Happy Listening.
I have rather severe space limitations for my audio/HT system, and thus had no choice but to acquire a combination preamp/processor. My system is used about 85-90% of the time for 2-channel music, so the performance of the preamp was a crucial consideration for me.

To make a medium-length story shorter, I looked at several pre/pros in the $4000-5000 range, and eventually selected the Bryston SP-1 (now upgraded to the SP-1.7, which includes Dolby ProLogic 2, 6.1 and 7.1 surround formats, inputs for SACD/DVD-A, etc.).

I have been very pleased with my SP-1, and am tentatively planning to have it upgraded by Bryston later this year to the SP-1.7 version. Given your criteria for choosing a unit, I think you will be well served to put the Bryston SP-1.7 on your "short list" to audition.
Theta Digital (Casanova/Casablanca) get high marks for thier audio. Prices vary depending upon options. They do volume control in the analog domain, not digital. Lexicon is another good choice. I'm not sure if the volume control is digital or analog for the Lex. THe Casanova and the Lex DC-1 will probably be close to your price used.
I use a Proceed AVP, and am very pleased with it's 2-ch performance. (Contrary to what you may read in some places, it does offer analog pass-through for 2-ch.) I plan to upgrade it to AVP2 configuration, which uses the same DACS and software as the Mark Levinson Mk 40.
I found the Audio Refinement Pre-2DSP to have a very clean 2 channel bypass mode (equal to the Audio Refinement Pre-5 all analog pre), but have since moved to a Pass X1 for stereo, and it has a bypass for theater processor. Now I can have whatever processor I chose without worrying about its 2 channel performance. At a lower price, the Adcom GFP-750 also has a processor loop.
Not so sure why everyone thinks Bryston when they want 2 ch sound out of a pre/pro. No one buys there preamps. They may be better than some alternatives, but i would think a quality 2 ch preamp will give you much better sound.
Actually after all my research i decided on a Consonance M99 2 channel tube integrated. I am totally happy with it. Just decided i'm more interested in 2-channel stereo than HT. I can always just get a basic HT receiver later if i really wanted to... There's something about that tube sound that is just hard to beat....