The Electrocompaniet EMC-1 UP can be had NEW for mid threes; used MkII for $2500, and older originals for teens. RSVP if you need help upgrading if you get an older one.
These players have absolutely NO digital glare, and a truly analog sound with a VERY resolved soundstage. As you go up to the 192DAC and the SE power supplies upgrade they develop further top octave rez and extension, fleshing out the soundstage even better, with perhaps an increase in bass dynamics with the latter upgrade, too.
Best performance is undoubtedly with a balanced pre, however. If you're running single-ended then maybe an Ayre down near $2k, or that Gamut might help. I'd ignore the Meridians as way too diital-sounding for your (my?) taste.