Turntable got absolutely crushed by CD

Long story short, i've just brought home a VPI classic 1 mounted with a Zu-Denon DL103 on JMW Memorial 10.5 with the appropriate heavier counterweight. Had everything dialed in..perfect azimuth, VTF, overhang, with only a slightly higher than perfect VTA. Levelling checked. All good. 

I did a comparison between the VPI and my Esoteric X03SE and it's not even close. The Esoteric completely crushes the VPI in all regards. The level of treble refinement, air, decay, soundstage depth and width, seperation, tonality, overall coherence is just a simply a league above from what I'm hearing from the VPI. The only area the VPI seems to be better at is bass weight, but not by much. 

I'm honestly quite dumbfounded here. I've always believed that analogue should be superior to digital. I know the Esoteric is a much pricier item but the VPI classic is supposed to be a very good turntable and shouldn't be a slouch either. At this point I feel like I should give up on analogue playback and invest further in digital. 

Has anyone had a similar experience comparing the best of digital to a very good analogue setup?

Esoteric X03SE 
VPI Classic, JMW Memorial 10.5, Zu-DL103
Accuphase C200L
Accuphase P600
AR 90 speakers

Test Record/CD:
Sarah McLachlan - Surfacing (Redbook vs MOV 180g reissue)

Quality digital into quality tubes into quality speakers will beat vinyl for sound quality every time. Unless you like clicks and pops, records make their best sound when hitting the bottom of a dumpster or being sold to a hipster.

Mac MCD 301, Mac 275, Klipschorns. 
Based simply on countless auditions, not just myself but scores of people (please note: not audiophiles, PEOPLE) over many years with everything from budget to mega there simply is no way any VPI doesn't trounce any CD.

So let's set that aside and maybe focus on what you really need to develop, which is listening skills.

No offense, but if you had them we wouldn't be here. You would have heard- not seen, heard- that VTA was off, and kept adjusting until it was right on. 

Lesson One: turntables CANNOT be set up and adjusted by eyeballs, rulers, stylus force gauges, or any of that. These merely get you in the ballpark. Perfect LP playback can only be achieved by careful listening, judicious adjustment, and more listening.

Lesson Two: most everything you adjust will affect everything else. Changing tracking force alters SRA, which affects VTA. Tracking force also affects subjective frequency response, which might make you change your opinion on the optimum VTA. Round and round.

Fremer no doubt has superb setup tutorials online. Seek them out and study.

My tip for setting VTA: If the arm is a bit too high (arm tilts down towards the stylus) you will hear note attack emphasized relative to note body. The saxophone reed a bit more prominent than the body. Cymbal tsss more than tinggggg. With VTA too low the body or fundamental of the note will be a bit more pronounced relative to the attack, or plucking, whatever you want to call it.

If that seems hard, wait, it gets better. The difference, when you get really good at it, between high, low and perfect is way, way, WAAAAY too small to see. Its like thousandths of an inch. When I get it right I write it down, right on the record. Its not like you have to do this. Hardly anyone does. It seems like a lot of work. Impossible, if you can't hear the difference. With practice though its easy. Once you understand what it sounds like when VTA is locked in its hard to accept less than perfect. Especially when by then you also know you can tweak it perfect in literally a matter of minutes.

Once you understand. There's your homework.
Chadsort, sorry to hear of your disappointment. Many good suggestions here: first, live with it a while (an option that costs you nothing); listen to some original, all-analog records (no need for audiophile recordings); re-inspect set-up (including P2S); see if you can borrow a separate phono stage that will allow some adjustment of loading; and do consider trying a cheap alternative cartridge that’s better matched to the arm. (I couldn’t find it in their current website, but at one stage VPI had a page of recommended matches; I seem to recall they endorsed the Ortofon 2m series, none of which are expensive and any one of which you should be able to resell easily)

Finally, something that has not been mentioned so far: there is huge variation in “house sounds” among brands, and you might have had a lucky find with the Esoteric. I now prefer to listen to vinyl records most of the time, but the absolutist “any analog beats any digital” mantra is just silly. I once also had a Classic 1 and ended up selling it  — no flaming others, but the sound just wasn’t for me, and I preferred digital on my AMR. So see if you can listen to some other rigs that offer a different presentation (say, Well Tempered) — you might find something that changes your mind.