Reciever Questions. Thiels.

I have a set of Thiel 3.5 speakers. They are currently hooked up to an old onkyo stereo reciever. They sound alright (but I'm sure not up to their potential). I am looking to use them as the fronts in a surround system, but I'm not sure what reciever to buy. I really can't afford much now, and I was wondering if a used NAD surroud reciever would be able to power them... and the surrounds for the time being. I would like to add a seperate amp to the fronts later. Or should I just buy a cheaper reciever like a HK, and a cheap amp first? Any opinions? I also have a set of Thiel 1.2s... would it even make sense to use them as rear speakers in ss setup? I might just use them in a different room. Any ideas on what to do? My budget is VERY limited... but I don't mind waiting to look for a good deal used equipment. Thanks.
I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Thiel speakers are probably the last speaker you would want to use with a budget receiver. They have complex crossovers that suck enormous amounts of power, and they are very revealing and will thus show you any weaknesses in the rest of your system -- in short, they have to be run with a high-current, high quality amp and high quality associated components to sound right. You've been lucky that your Onkyo hasn't blown up -- you may not be so lucky if you try another receiver on them.

A solution would be a Bryston 3B-ST, which will run you $750 to $900 used. All Bryston products are very solidly made and come with a twenty-year transferrible warranty, which makes a used purchase pretty risk-free. Bryston makes multichannel amps as well, but even used, they will be out of your price range. Try to find some used Cardas Golden Cross interconnects and speaker cables for the rest of your system.

The other alternative is to sell your Thiels and buy speakers that are more appropriate to run with a receiver. No offense intended, but again, Thiels are very revealing speakers made for critical listening to stereo music, not for casual home theater systems. They will work in home theater systems, but must be run with very good amplification, source components and cabling, or they will sound like hell.
First reviewer is correct in power demands of the Thiels. IF you must stay with a receiver the Luxman 1120A ($350 used) will drive these well. Rated at 120wpc and loads of amperage it will bench at about 160wpc and sounds marvelous. I've heard mine drive Martin Logan CLS electrostatics decently. And you can do some simple and cheap upgrades.

If you don't need a tuner then a decent integrated such as the English made Onix, Exposure or Sugden will drive them. The larger powered Luxmans such as the 491 or L 105 will also do well. Used ranges from $200 to $500 for these.
As a long time Thiel owner, I concur with the previous reponses. You'll cheat yourself and never know what the Thiels are capable of, if you cheap out on ampification. You might want a giant dog, but if you can't afford to feed that kind of puppy, you'll never truly get what you want.
Although (to play devil's advocate)...I believe neither the sealed-box 3.5's, especially if used without the bass EQ but with a self-powered sub, nor the smaller 1.2's, would be the current hogs some Thiels can be, nor as transparently revealing as newer Thiels. Sure they'd sound better with better amplification, and have somewhat lowish sensitivity, but I think the question remains open, provided your room is medium-sized, whether different but still inexpensive speakers would sound better overall with a decent receiver than the Thiels you already own. For a good-sounding affordable HT receiver I'd also look at Marantz.
I completely agree with Raquel on this. I am a huge fan of Thiels and Vandersteens, and own a pair of both brands, but it is essential that the Thiels be powered appropriately. They not only require current, but are highly revealing of the upstream components, especially the source and pre amp. This is why Thiels often get a bad rap when users don't balance the system to accommodate what these speakers are capable of delivering. They may very well be the most GIGO responsive speakers ever made.