I reached hi-fi nirvana via a good moving coil pick up and Quad electrostatic speakers. I have box-swapped amps to put between them but, within limits, they make relatively little difference to the emerging sound. I do, however, have a very sweet spot for a pair of World Audio Design 300B PSE amplifiers, but like the Quads they are large, ugly and difficult to position. I now have the amplifiers mounted directly behind the speakers.
I prefer vinyl but a scratched record remains scratched for ever and ever and it is difficult to live with repeating clicks. It is very simple to remove clicks once the record has been digitized but one ends up with a clean CD which disappears inside a box when you want to listen to it - this is not like vinyl which revolves for all to see on a beautiful machine.
I see the ELP Company who a few years back made a laser turntable also made a declicker box to go with it. It was quite expensive, but was it any good? Why aren’t there masses of declicker boxes on the market? Many years ago a turntable manufacturer (I believe it was Garrard) offered built in declicking but it was apparently not a great success. Why?
I’m glad you are a happy man music wise. But I’m a little surprised that ticks and pops upset you so, and a quiet CD is a better proposition than a noisy LP. Play vinyl with a cartridge that doesn’t emphasise highs (i.e. has no treble peak in its response) and they should be hardly noticeable. The hissy, fizzy sound that afflicts LP is usually down to this, as well as groove damage and dirt.
I use, from time to time, an Ortofon Cadenza Black and produces little obvious noise. Groove noise during low level passages was always cited as a strong reason for using CD – but not everyone agrees. Some professional classical musicians say vinyl is more natural. So it isn't just audiophiles that claim vinyl is more natural; perhaps we are not all deluded after all!
I didn’t get listen to the ELP laser turntable but knew someone who did and she was terribly disappointed. Not only did it play groove noise and dirt, as was widely reported but it had the sonic properties of a poor CD player; the sound was coarse and flat, as if dominated by poor electronic circuitry. It made me realise how pure a moving coil cartridge is as a source, as you state.
The following links might prove useful: