Re: Musical in-wall speakers on a relative budget.
I haven't listened to a Sony receiver on years outside of shows. They have a great GUI, and HDMI 1.3, but, and I must restate I haven't heard one in a while, they were never to my tastes musically. I preferred the Denon, Marantz, (used to love SAE) and such. I think you can easily pick up the Marantzx 8002 for $1650 or so or a Denon 4308Ci for ~$2K. I would have to check but I think the Denon offers more of the newer audio formats, but as HT is a secondary concern to you, this might not matter much.
If you wanted to go cheaper, I know Andrew Robinson absolutely loved the new Onkyo 805 and you could easily do that or something higher up in their line as well maybe freeing up some funds as your speakers may dictate.
Just some thoughts....
Ken Taraszka, MD