The standard buy right now is an A/V receiver from Onkyo. Very versatile and relatively inexpensive. Between 400-600.
I tested a ton of surround speakers and book shelf speakers. I settled on book shelf from Polk Audio. I got the powered sub woofer too. I was all in for around a grand. IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO BE ANY HAPPIER WITH MY CHOICES.
I went ahead an purchased Monster cables even though the industry was 50/50 on whether or not those make a difference. I think they make a tremendous difference.....and I guess that's all the really matters...lol.
The only advice I can give you is to take your time and listen to a wide variety of brands and configurations. I would stay away from the "Home Theater in a Box" brands like Bose. You will probably have very precise listening needs and buying components instead of systems is the only way to go.
I went to the Devil's Lair....Fry's....to purchase mine. Hated doing it, but they do have great prices.