I've been very impressed with my Sony 9000ES which retailed for about $1800. Video and audio performance are both superb, although the ergonomics are a bit quirky. I A-B'd the audio DAC performance against my Lexicon MC-12 and couldn't honestly tell any difference.
The new Lexicon RT-10 does have me drooling, though. At only $3500, it is reported to have few equals. It plays virtually any audio or video disc, has awesome connectivity, and according to Stereophile has virtually identical performance to the Meridian 598
The Meridian 598 is a very nice player, although its $6000. MSRP is a bit lofty, and to take advantage of many of its advanced features (particularly for SACD), you need the matching Meridian pre/pro.
Most videophiles claim the Camelot Roundtable MK2 ($5000) is the benchmark for video performance. Its Silicon Image deinterlacer is one of the best on the market... although it is of dubious value to those of us with outboard scalers. It's more of a pure DVD player - not offering the "universal play" features of, say, the Lexicon. But for the finest possible picture, this is probably the machine to get.
I'd also mention the Proceed PDMT player. It got consistantly great reviews when it was introduced, and it's performance in my system confirms what I read. Beutiful picture quality. Music is very important to me, and this was the best CD player I ever heard, until I got my Levinson 390S.
Madrigal unfortunately got bought out by Harmon Kardon, and the Proceed line was discontinued last year.