wow...so much great info, I appreciate all the responses.
I've re-read my OP and see your point about it being a little confusing. Let me put it a different way - I'm not looking for specific equipment recommendations, I can research what's available now, easily enough. I want some confidence that if I pull the trigger on a new digital front-end, it won't be rendered obsolete in a year's time. In 5 years, who knows? I get that. Also, obsolete may not be the correct word here, I know whatever tech is at play now will likely still be useable in a decade. But is there anything 'just around the corner' that might make it sensible to hold fire for a year or so, or is it fairly safe to say that projecting forward a year, changes will be of an incremental nature and not wholesale. It might even be a rhetorical question and I might already know the answer, yet I'm still interested to read other people's take on it.
@gdnrbob - thanks for the photography analogy, it works well!
@antigrunge2 - I hear you on the 'implementation', though I haven't personally heard digital that gives better overall sound quality than a vinyl rig at a similar price-point. But I'm not expecting that or looking for it. I enjoy both, for different reasons. My goal is just to close the gap sonically so I won't feel like something is missing from the experience when listening to digital.
@boomerbillone - thanks for the comments. I agree with your statement "I've never heard a streaming service that could beat a well-recorded CD". It's interesting how that contrasts with antigrunge2 and his "optimized streaming far beats ripping CDs and ripping your CD collection is a waste of time if you can stream them from high-res Qobus."
@bruce19 "Perhaps you can tell me, do you think analog audio has plateaued yet?" - yes, I do. Changes at this point appear incremental and I haven't seen anything come through that renders a turntable from 20 years ago incompatible. Sure, a new tonearm might not be compatible with your old Thorens, but not buying that particular tonearm doesn't mean you're no longer able to access new vinyl media.
The closest thing I know of to 'revolutionary' is the optical strain-gauge system, but even that can be retro-fitted to most any TT. ( I can imagine a lot of people disagreeing with this view)
@ Y'all - Great to see a thread where no one has gone off on a 'this is better than that' rant!
As an aside, I recently bought a Devialet Expert Pro 220 CI. This highly praised and well-reviewed component is a fully digital pre/power with DAC, streamer, Roon integration, digital crossover, speaker-matching software, and a fully configurable MC/MM phono, a true digital swiss-army knife if ever there was one. The only problem was that it just didn't sound 'right'.