If you can hear through noise, you are well on your way to analog contentment. With the budget you have you should have no problem finding an analog front-end. I, for one, am dubious about any touted advancements in tt/arms/cartridges in recent memory. On the other hand, I am a sceptic, so there you go. My only question to you is: what is the rest of your system, has it reached such a level that you can spend 5k going down this route? If so, try to find a dealer who still sells analog and knows how to set up a proper tt/arm/cartridge combo. Listen to what the dealer has, try for a home audition in your own system. The list of usual suspects you probably know about: REGA, VSP, SME come to mind, but since I have not auditioned any of these in any meaningful way, I would let your ears be the judge. By the way, is it not a tall order to try to beat "any cd player"?