I'm no expert on this stuff, but I've found there's tons of choice in the price:quality spectrum.
I like the low end of the brands that actually care about quality. SVSound, Axiom, Ascend, etc - they all make great speakers in the 200-300 USD/pair range. Tack on a barebones 150-300 USD receiver and you can have a decent setup for under 400 dollars.
The nice thing is a lot of these brands are internet direct with a lot of reviews/discussion online.