Integrated used as Preamp?

Can anyone comment on using an integrated amp solely for its preamp as opposed to buying a pure preamp? Reason I ask is because I have been eyeing a few Musical Fidelity preamps (such as the A3cr and A3.2) for a while but the integrated versions go for cheaper than the pure preamps. Why spend $150 more to NOT get the amp inside? I don't need the amp but why spend the extra money? Is there anything APPRECIABLE one should expect to lose from using the integrated instead of a pure preamp?
I don't think your question has an absolute answer. Like all things, it depends on the particular units being considered. If you have an inexpensive or poorly designed integrated, the pre-amp section will not be as good as a stand alone unit. If you have a top notch integrated, then some money and design effort would have been put into the pre-amp section. There is no reason why it couldn't perform as well as comparably priced stand alone units.

However, in any case, I would expect the pre-amp section of an integrated to perform better when the integrated is used solely as a pre-amp. This is because the power supply would be dedicated to the pre-amp rather than being spread out over the pre-amp and power amp sections.

The answer in your specific case with the Musical Fidelity units would be to stop "eyeing" them and start "listening" to them :)
I agree with Markphd. What else is in the chain? What are you looking for? Why just MF?
I can think of a few integrateds that have good line stages, such as the Cambridge 640A and pretty much anything from Musical Fidelity.

Another plus is that you could biamp with the Cambridge or Musical Fidelity if you decided to make use of the power section after all.
The part of the question that was not asked. If you go with an MF integrated, just make sure that the integrated has a preamp out. Not all MF A3's had a preamp out. I found out the hard way.

FWIW, MF standalone preamps are superior to the preamp section alone in an MF integrated. Both still have the MF house sound, but the stand alone units are quieter and richer sounding.


Thanks for the feedback thus far. To answer some of the questions...

It doesn't have to be a MF integrated/preamp... I have just been looking at one to mate with my MF A308CR power amp. What I need is a good 2-channel preamp, because my system currently serves double duty as a stereo setup + home theater. The MF amp I have has 2 sets of inputs with a switch on the front to control which one is active. That means I can connect two different preamps (a good stereo preamp and my existing Acurus prepro) so I can keep the home theater setup without sacrificing 2 channel audio quality.
Rar1 - what do you mean about not all A3s having a preamp out? Are you saying there are multiple versions of the A3? According to the MF website, the A3, A300, A3.2, and A308 integrateds all have preouts.
The MF A3 that I had did not have a preamp out. See this thread from 2004. Don't mean to disagree with MF's web site, but it is why I wound up trading the A3 integrated for the A300 power amp, after I purchased the CD PRE 24.

With that said, a CD PRE 24 would give you what you are looking for. Stereophile did an exhaustive review that you may want to read.


Thanks for the info Rar1. That's interesting that your A3 didn't have preouts. On the CD Pre 24, I've had my eye on that as well, but they aren't easy to find and are a little outside the range I am looking to spend at the moment. If the right one came along, I might pull the trigger though, since I could make up some coin by selling my current CD player.