the $399 Energy package (C-300's + C-C50 + C50's) with a $230 PA-120 sub would be tough to beat at $630 shipped if he can do tower speakers up front. If he can't do towers, you could do C-50's all around + a C-C50 center for $280 shipped, or even the larger C-100's up front, then add an even more monstrous $300-350 type sub sub stashed away in the corner away from the wife's scornful gaze, something like the eD A-300
it's the top of the price range, but it's a real shame how everyone wants to skimp on speakers after spending all the dough on the display and receiver. convince him that he needs to do his shiny new Denon and HDTV justice, man!!! the wife should be able to make any "blend-in" complaints in the freaking basement!! That being said, the Energy C-Series speakers are very attractive with a high quality of fit&finish for a "budget" speaker.
And, in a big space like a medium-sized basement, if he wants to crank it on movies those tiny sub/sat systems will just not be able to hang.
a system anchored by towers up front with a nice sub will really do the HT justice.