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Get in touch with Dan Wright at Modswright.He has a few version of upgrades for the Sony ES line.I believe he has favorable nod in comparing his full blown 777 with $10K Accuphase.He also told me that a stock $1K Phillips has to be heard to be believed and that he is working out a few paclages on that as we speak but hasn't officially gotten it out yet.BTW the Phillips was $2K but they dropped the price in half.
Stock - Sony XA777ES as noted above.
If you are willing to void the warranty there are a number of units that purchase price + mod costs will be within your budget and their performance may astonish you. Contact the variety of "modders" such as Stan Warren, Dan Modwright, Ric Shultz and Richard Kern who will offer their opinions as to your options.