While it is always a good idea to have less in your signal path, in my view, the problem is having both enough gain in the stand-alone unit for records cut at mid- to low levels (remember, the line stage is adding 12-20 db of gain) and a volume control that's convenient to use. I know that the Aesthetix IO at the high end of the price scale has this capability (a friend of mine who only listens to vinyl runs that setup), but I don't know about the EAR/Art Audio units. As an alternative, you could consider a full-function preamp such as Audible Illusions, the new ARC SP16 or used SP9, 10 or 11, or (if you can swing it) a Hovland or used Jadis JP80MC (or, of course, any older preamp that has a phono stage). That way you could avoid the extra box and interconnects and still get top quality sonics.
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