Built-in phono or seperate for budget system

this question must have been asked before, but they are scattered in too many threads so I am starting a new one.

want to build a 2nd system that includes vinyl. haven't decided on speakers yet, but leaning toward Usher BE-718. I can go integrated or separate, I do have a Forte 4A in closet I can use to drive the Usher.

if I go with separate, the pre amp I am considering is Audible Illusions 3A which has built-in MM and it's tube. draw back is it has no remote. I can also shop for a tube pre like SF Line 1 and add a outboard phono to it for slightly more money, there are other pre out there that offers tube and remote for less.

is the built-in phono in AI 3A as good or better than some inexpensive outboard phono box to justify the inconvenience? this 2nd system will play background music, so convenience is as important as sound quality.

help me decide!
The Audible Illusions 3A has a very good phono stage -- not the equal of the best phono pre's, but certainly as good as any of the "budget" models. Since this new system is going to be used mainly for incidental music rather than serious listening, I suggest you go with the 3A's phono stage and use the money you save for some other element in your system.
For a budget system I've always felt that a inboard phono stage offers better value for the $$$. The AI is a good choice, and should sound great with that Forte 4a. As a second system, that would beat most first systems IMHO. Happy hunting.

I have owned AI 2D long ago, it was my first high end piece and my system has grown substaintially since. I still remember the joy of turning two volume knobs vs. my friend's Counterpoint SA-2000 tiny volume pot. it was traded in for an ARC LS2B for $400, should have saved it for 2nd system but $400 back then was worth a lot more to me than now.

so AI 3A it is. next question is whether I want to change from Forte 4A to Parasound A21 or something wiht more muscle for the power hungry Usher.
You say you haven't decided on speakers yet, but are leaning towards the Ushers. IMHO, I'd look for speakers that are easier to drive, and stick with the Forte 4a. It's in a totally different weight class sonically than the Parasound A21. IMHO, you'd have to spend about $2K on the used market to equal the Forte 4a sonically and aquire more power, it's a real giant killer.


I know what you meant by Forte 4A being a sweet little amp and will take a lot more money to better it. I also like Usher BE-718 a lot, I have owned them over a year even before US started importing them. I am a tube guy, I know all about amp and speaker matching but I am willing to give Usher a try and change amp if I have to.


Then I would suggest trying a Threshold T200 or T400 to give you more power, with a similar sonic signature to the Forte 4a.