Speakers and Sub are your most important so get out and listen to as many as possible. Some ID companies, like Aperion, will pay to ship speakers both ways if you decide to return them. Other ID brands worth a look include NHT, Ascend, Axiom, Emotiva. I would spend 70-80% of your budget on speakers and a sub and the rest of the receiver and wires from Monoprice. Some sub brands to look at include Epik, SVS, HSU, Rythmik, and Elemental Designs to name a few. And no, your speakers and sub don't have to be the same brand. It's most important that your 3 front speakers match.