First time poster. I know there are many threads regarding this topic, and upon reading, I remain as confused as ever.
I'm charged with researching and selecting a pair of speakers and a receiver to get for my brother and his wife for Christmas. I'll try and give as much detail as possible, please let me know if more is needed.
They live in a moderately sized 1BR apartment in Brooklyn, NY. The living room they're using runs directly into the kitchen (it's one large-ish open area). However, they do a reasonably good job of sectioning off the living area. To give an idea of dimensions, they have an entertainment stand, then probably ~10 feet before the couch. There is maybe 5 feet behind the couch and a deep window. The area is probably ~10-12 feet wide.
They have a 42" Samsung LCD TV (model unknown. ~$1300). They use the standard Time Warner DVR/HDTV box. They have the ubiquitous Sony Blu Ray Player that was standard purchase in early 2008.
Now, here's the main problem. Since it's Brooklyn, there's lots of ambient noise from neighbors, the city, etc. My brother is an arts and entertainment writer and gets furious when he'll watch a movie (especially on Blu Ray) where there are vast differentials between loud/quiet. A perfect example occurs whilst watching There Will Be Blood. Volume needs to be cranked to hear dialogue but when something loud happens it is deafening.
To boot, they'd especially like it if the speakers could be placed behind them. I know many have ill-will toward wireless systems, but if this can be incorporated into a recommendation, it is a definite plus.
We are looking to get two speakers and a receiver in hopes of alleviating this problem to some degree and giving better quality audio. They are by no means aficionados, nor can we afford expensive equipment. We're looking for what I'm sure many of you will consider a solid entry system. Subwoofer unneeded since they are trying to be good neighbors even if many aren't as courteous. Our price range is ~$500 total. We have some wiggle room if people really think it is worth it. I know some will scoff at this price, but please try to understand. I'm a Ph.D. student (read: poor) and money is tight with everyone else as well. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
So, in brief:
Looking to rectify huge differences in loud/quiet
2 speakers (Wireless a plus, if can go behind a couch a plus)
Receiver needed as well
~$500, give or take
Thank you -- for dealing with my ignorance, rehashing a largely covered topic, and for your time in response.