under $300 look for HK. New would probably be over your budget but you can find them refurbished on ebay from Harman Kardon Direct auctions with full warranty. HK is widely thought of as having the best SQ at the price point.
I've been impressed with the musical quality of Marantz's receivers. Both of the Marantz receivers I've owned (SR-19, currently SR-9600) have been fantastic for music in 2-channel mode. You might be able to find a refurb or used Marantz within your price range. Worth a listen, IMO...
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