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Welcome to the Shack.
Personally I'd steer you toward spending much less on the receiver. Better speakers will make a much larger difference in sound quality than what you are driving them with. I also think the heat issues associated with the new Onkyo's is a bit overblown. Currently the Onkyo's will provide the most bang for the buck. Any of the brands you mentioned will be fine, just get the one with the features you need/want.

As for speakers,... first off, how big is the room? Unless the room it is fairly small the speakers you are looking at will most likely NOT be very satisfying. Also, if you must place speakers inside a cabinet I'd suggest you get speakers designed to be place in a cabinet. I would normally suggest something from PSB, RBH, Snell or maybe JBL but in your case, these will be out of your budget. You might want to look at the ERM-1 speakers from Emotiva, or this speaker package. These have a boundary compensation switch, will fit into the space you have and have been getting pretty good reviews. With less spent on your receiver you may be able to fit these into your budget and I'd bet they will fill any room much better than the diminutive Def Tech's.
 
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