I have the NAD 325BEE in my AV system at one house driving KEF iQ9 speakers, and the sound is pretty good.
Right now, the Cambridge Audio 550A is a good value because it is going to be discontinued, and that is what you might want to look at for $399 (was $599). I can certainly recommend it, and it has preamp out jacks if you want to use them for a subwoofer.
IMO, from my listening experience, it will sound much better than any AV receiver you can buy for under $1000 (and so will the 326BEE). I prefer the Cambridge sound quality slightly compared to NAD, but they are both decent.
For another whole level of sound, you could get the excellent Musical Fidelity M3i, but that is $1500.
Integrated amplifiers are generally much more cost-effective until you get up to 3 or 4 thousand dollars; hard to get a decent preamp for under $2000 these days. The cheaper Parasound preamps are not really very good.
The cheapest separates that I would consider are the Vincent SA-31 preamp, which is the best preamp I know of for under $1500 (only $650, actually!), and the Vincent SP-331 power amplifier for $1300. Both of these got awards from The Absolute Sound magazine for their high quality and good prices. Both of those units approach the sound of stuff that costs 3 times as much; very high performance.
The Carnival 2 speakers are not bad. If you want some bass to add to them, you might want to look at the Polk PSW505 subwoofer, which is a steal now for only $250 on Amazon. To get better you would need to double that price.
Originally Posted by outlawskinnyd
What about the nad 326bee?
That has a sub out.
The more I think about this the more I kick myself for not buying floor standing 3 ways.