Decent CD Players

I'm in the midst of putting together a 2 channel system. I have listened to a lot of CD players and I don't think that any players, regardless of price, have really met my ideal. I'm looking for a player that is transparent, has good timing (is not slow as some players seem to be), clear midrange, good bass, good staging and handles the highs well. The budget is around $1,500.

I won't bore you with all of the players I have listed to, but here are two players that could serve as a benchmark. I would say that Arcam's CD92 is pretty clear but not that engaging. The player is dull. I have not listened to the FMJ CD23 but understand that is similar to the 92. The Musical Fidelity A3 is fairly decent but still fails overall. If I had the financial resources, I suppose that I would purchase a Meridian 508.24. This is not much info to go on, but do you have any recommendations?
Have you considered a very well built (30 lbs.) Sony DVP s9000es DVD/SACD/CD 2-channel unit for $899 new and then consider having it mod'ed by Stan Warren of SuperMods (co-founder of PS Audio) for $250.

If you turn off the display, the video, and the digital out, you will notice a significant improvement in performance.
Hey if you can up your budget a little I would go for a Mark Levinson No.37 . The quality will be there long after the price has been forgotten !!!!! I know I bought one and still am AMAZED by how GOOD this thing really is ! I have heard a lot of cd players but none has compared to the Levinson . If you have a DAC then this is the way to go !!!!! NO REGRETS HERE !!!! LEVINSON RULES !!!! Though they say that the Meridian is nice too so either one of these is the way to go !!! Players I have heard in my system ; Technics, Proceed , Panasonic , Toshiba, Theta . NONE come even 1/2 of what the Levinson does!!
In this price range you have seen that it is hard to find a great player without mods. Believe it or not a friend has the Adcom single disc player that I find to be extremely fast and natural sounding - it is solidly built and gives my Electrocompaniet a good run . I now only use the EC for a transport with the Kora Hermes DAC . It is a tube unit and brings redbook play to a better and more tolerable listening level. The Meridian you mention is also a very good unit. Maybe look into tube units.
Theta Miles has these qualities. A used one is well within your range. I would love to a/b it against the 508-24 or Cary 303 but have not been able to do so. The Miles smoothed out a lot of cd's that were harsh on other cdp's.
The Meridian 506.24 is well within your budget & sometimes you can find a 508.24 right on the edge of your price range. There's one listed right now for $1525.00
We put together an a/b test of six CD players using the same disk similair cables on a Levinson 383 has remote to choose input. Players used Anthem cd-1 rotel 990 rotel 955 rotel six disc unit and a single disk Marantz forgot the model number. Its amazing how many critics out there can point out differences in cd players listening to them on a stand alone basis. The only player that really stood out from the pack was the anthem. All players sounded good, but would challenge anyone to a/b six players of different price ranges back to back and get all six correct. Its like wine tasting I've met very few that can pick in a blind tasting. Good luck
Try looking around for a used Wadia 830 ( one without the optional digital outs and metal remote)...great unit with a Pioneer stable platter drive and it can direct drive your power amp. If you have to have a pre in the chain, look also to the Rega Jupiter/Io combination. Very Meridian-like. I would recommend first, the Wadia.
I have recently acquired the new Jolida CD player which has a tube audio section. The sound is as good or better than any player under $2000.00 that I know of. At $ 900.00 it is a steal. If you want better sound go analogue!

If you can stretch your budget by a couple hundred, I highly recommend the Resolution Audio CD55. There's one for sale here now for $1750. I haven't heard a better player for this used price. If you don't want to spend the extra $$, I'll second the suggestion for the Theta Miles. The Miles has great bass and it really does acoustic instruments well. It doesn't have quite the open/airy top end that some of the newer players have, but for its used price, a great deal.
Good luck.
I would try a Rotel or an Adcom before you drop the big bucks for a high dollar unit. They will get you in the ball park as far as sound.
I second the Meridians and also the Sony 9000es. I am impressed by the latter at its price point - Sony can come up with some great equipement.
I think you might be able to find a used Granite Audio Model 657 CDP roughly within your price range.

The 657 offers a tube output section that basically brought tears to me eyes. Maybe not a very informative statement from a technical perspective, but it does sort of convey the emotional response I've felt myself and witnessed in others who hear the unit for the first time.

There aren't a lot of reviews out on this unit, but looking around you may find a thread here and there discussing the model.
For $350 on the used market consider a Sony DVPS-7700. This was a great DVD/CD player. It has digital out but only at 44k. If bested many so-called high end combos I have tried.