NAD avoids the fluff and may have what you are looking for.
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I am not sure if you are going just two channel or multichannel. My advise for multichannel is the Onkyo 805 and one of the Oppo universal players. $1200 buys: 7.1 channels of amplification, HDMI 1.3, phono stage built in, hefty power supply, ipod/mp3 inputs, 3 zones, made in Japan (not China), SACD/DVD-A/DVD-V/CD. I have both but do not use the amps, only the processing part of the Onkyo. Never a hiccough with the Onkyo. The Oppo is great, even with redbook CD. I think the quality of the sound would surprise you. Both companies give you a 30 day trial in your home and return if you don't like them.
Mine currently is:
vintage Yamaha cr-420 (receiver)
Marantz DVD player (~ $350 3-4 years ago, model # not handy)
Sony VHS recorder/TV tuner
Triangle Titus speakers with M&K sub (see system pics)
Dual 1264 tt hooked in for good luck
This is in an average sized family room. Sounds great, clean, musical, not the ultimate for movie sound effects, but very respectable there.
Total cost second hand for receiver/amp + speakers + sub today on used market probably ~ $700-$800 dollars.