oldtechie: Thank you for all the suggestions so far, keep 'em coming!
Dunnersfella, I totally understand where you are coming from, BUT ... I know there is no way I will be able to justify a $3,000 amp (are you thinking of the Audiant 80i?), PLUS $1,000 plus for the front speakers, PLUS $600 plus for a new TV to She Who Must Be Obeyed. I know I haven't set a firm budget so it's a bit difficult for everyone to advise me without that crucial information, and I apologise for that. I'm still at the information gathering stage at the moment, and I don't want to set an arbitrary upper limit without some idea of what will suit me and the family.
Having said that, I do appreciate your honest appraisal that I may be doomed to a life of poor quality audio. :( Sadly, budgetry constraints (as imposed by She Who Must Be Obeyed) will mean a compromise. My aim is to find that sweet spot between the $269 LG HTIB, and the $50,000 system that I'm sure I would really enjoy ... by myself, because the wife would pack her bags and leave. Hopefully there is something that fits between crap quality and superb quality in my price range.
put it this way - if you have super sensitive $10,000 speakers, even the paint on your wall, the coating of your ceiling, the open door on the left, the glass window on your right, and the type of couch you sit on have a bearing on the room acoustics and therefore sound you will hear. (if your hearing still works that is). if you had that much money to spend, you'd want to not only get the best amp and best golden wires, you'd want to treat your room for acoustics and start looking at that $25,000 speakers.
if you want to spend $2,000 and you spend $1,000 on a 2 ch amp and $600 for a tv and leave $400 for speakers, what are you going to get out of it? you won't hear the amp, but the speakers in this instance