For that sort of money, the Bryston SP3/9Bsst2 really can't be ignored. Bryston's reputation for amplification needs to explanation, and you've only got to check out forums for initial feedback on the SP3 processor, which bryston hail as being as good as their £5k BP26 pre-amplifier for 2-channel quality. In fact, two users reckon it actually has the edge...
Two reasons why the Bryston is so good with 2-channel music is that it does away with any video processing and room EQ - two areas that have a major effect on audio quality. We had this combination running at our open evening last November with the PMC Twenty.24's front and rear, and I have to admit that it's the best thing I've ever heard, and I've heard some corkers in my time. I was very dubious about how good it could be without room EQ, especially as our room isn't great, but the system just sounded so good that it wasn't an issue. I liken it to listening to a movie soundtrack for the very first time. Visually understated, but more than makes up in audio quality.
For me, the bargain below the SP3 would be the Onkyo 5509. It does boast one of the best room EQ's out there, and the possibility of extending that with the addition of the Pro Kit. Used with a Bryston 9Bsst2, and it's good enough to be, you've got a cracking 5.1 system for less than £10k.
One of the other systems that's worth mentioning is the Denon AVP-A1HDA/POA-A1HD combo. Stunningly effortless and so listenable. It looks like it performs too.