Six months ago I made the same search you are undertaking. I ultimately gave up. I tried a Bryston BDP-1, WireWorld Platinum Starlight AES/EBU, and Violectric V800, among other combos. I got very good sound, I suppose, but it still caused a certain sense of unease and discomfort that is not present with my analogue rigs.
Mink70, I don't understand how such knowledgeable guys as John Atkinson can't or don't hear what we hear. I can only conclude there is something about how we hear, similar to food sensitivities. Some people are very sensitive to salt or lack thereof, or to use a convenient wine analogy, to volatile acids, TCA, or American oak.
We shouldn't be too surprised. Digital is not natural. It is inherently artificial. The digital images I see on my TV displays don't look real or film-like, and I am reminded just how artificial those images are each time the picture breaks up, for no particular reason, and becomes a disassembled jumbo of dot matrixes for two or three seconds before being reassembled into an image.
My advice is to enjoy the search, but be patient and lower your expectations. In the end, no matter how good the analogue set-up and the comparison digital set-up, they will still sound different, with distinct groups of strengths and weaknesses. Digital will have a lower noise floor, more resolution, greater sound staging and imaging, and lower gross-distortion. I made up that term "gross-distortion". And that is the key. "Micro-distortion", distortion caused by a host of problems inherent with digital, some known and some as of yet unknown, including non-rounded, jagged sound waves-that even the objectivists must acknowledge readily appear on John Atkinson's scopes for all of us to see- is the likely culprit of that sensitivity to digital that you and I share.