Is it extra gain or two matched cables or both that improve the sound ?

When I route the signal from phono to deck and then to integrated I get overall better fuller sound than when doing it normally from phono to integrated.
System: Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm/Goldring 1042 cartridge; Acoustech phono, Nakamichi 682ZX deck, Redgum 120 RGi integrated; Michael Green Revolution 80i speakers. Cables - Purist Audio; Colossus ferox from phono, Maximus ferox from deck, Colossus fluid to speakers.
I tried it all three ways - from phono to integrated with Colossus, from phono to integrated with Maximus, and from phono to deck with Colossus plus from deck to integrated with Maximus.
When I run it thru deck I do lose some resolution, especially in high frequences, compared to running directly with Colossus, but I gain more weight and better balance in sound. Now, Colossus is silver or almost entirely silver cable, Maximus is a mostly copper alloy.
The deck's output is set at or near max, I use input recording level as a volume control. Amp's volume control is set at 9, and I don't usually touch it - no need.
Grado has 6.5 mv output, Acoustech's gain is set at 46db, I think. No idea of the Redgum's preamp gain setting.
So, overall the best sound is achieved when running phono/Colossus/deck/Maximus chain. Second best - phono/Maximus. Third best - phono/Colossus.
It does appear that those excellent Purist cables compliment each other. I talked to Jim, Purist's designer, about the cables, and he said yeah, Colossus has higher resolution but Maximus gives richer sound.
But I think that may not be all, the deck does something too. And what if I don't have enough gain in the preamp section? I record to deck from time to time directly from phono with the Colossus, and the sound is superb for a cassette. Recorded with Colossus, played with Maximus.
What do you think?

I'm in the same situation.
I have an ability to switch my signal chain through Nakamichi RX202 tape deck. By engaging 'record' I can boost my preamp level by another 10dB.
I loose some transparency, but I gain weight. I mostly do that for parties.
I just switch tape/monitor depending on whether I am listening to a record or tape, of course. My Nak also has dual input control in addition to master control, so I can use it as a balance control, though the Redgum amp has dual volume control.
Thinking of possible upgrades, first I would probably replace the Colossus with the cable that has at least the same resolution and the weight of the Maximus. That would be older Purist Proteus or Dominus, or current Purist Poseidon, which is pure copper, or Aqueous, which is copper/silver/gold alloy. Next step would most likely be new integrated or possibly separates. But I am quite happy with how it is now. This Colossus ferox interconnect/Maximus ferox interconnect/Colossus fluid speaker cables chain is a great combination.
Replacing the phono with adjustable gain settings would make sense too, I guess. But this Acoustech is very good, I would have to go significantly higher to improve everything not just gain flexibility. I would think that the least expensive choice would be Sutherland 20/20 or whatever it is called. It's over $2k new, and try to find it used. Or tube phono, even higher cost.
Dear inna: """ So, overall the best sound is achieved when running phono/Colossus/deck/Maximus chain. """

NO, it’s not. It’s only what you think/like but not what it’s really happening.

The cartridge signal is really delicate and if we care about music our main target is to try that that audio signal stay at minimum contaminated by several distortions sources. We have to take care about mantain the integrity of what the cartridge pick up from the LP grooves.

That delicate and sensible cartridge signal is surrounded ( between other sources. ) by degradation signal at each single link all over the audio system chain.

You have to think that even the headshell/tonearm input connectors and the headshell/tonearm it self makes its works degrading the music/audio signal along the tonearm internal wires followed by IC cables between tonearm and phono stage. This IC cable makes a signal degradation at diferent levels/steps: its input connectors, the solder between those inputs connectors and the IC wires, the IC wires it self and again more connectors and solder at its output. Signal degradationj continues inside the phono stage at each single pasive and active parts where the signal must pass along all the switchs using there and through the volumen control too.

So at the ed of the audio chain we are listening a " fake/clown " of the original signal full of everykind of distortions you can or can’t imagine!!

So, what you like are those very high distortions signal degradations and what you don’t like is that more " direct " phono stage connection that comes with a lot of lower degradation/distortions. That " fullest sound " you mentioned are only higher distortions against lower distortions that is what you don't like it in the " direct " connection ".

At the end if that’s what you like stay there because the important subject is that you be happy.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul, I don't care about your opinion, please do not post in this thread.
Inna: I think one of the coolest things you’ve brought forth here is something that I have supported and concluded for sometime now, that being what we hear is due to system context. The configuration you like best is not surprising to me at all. From personal experience I tried my digital sources directly into my power amps and that was always far less satisfying than through my preamp. Less wire is not necessarily better. Fewer components in the chain is not necessarily better. It is not always about the "predictive" interactivity, and it is not always the "quantitatively definable" that yields the optimum musical result. I think what you’ve demonstrated is yet another example of system integration that supports a favorable outcome. Plus, there’s no need to overthink it, it works, and enjoy😄
@inna : This is a totally free world, like it or not.

Stay calm and have fun.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear @stevecham : """ system context """. Your digital example belongs to a different " system context " where your music/sounds priorities are included.

That " system context " you touted is way different that makes that a delicate/sensible cartridge signal instead to pass ( only as example. ) for one link make that pass through 3 overall links.

Please explain how is that that cartridge signal instead to suffer more degradation been " up-graded " with a better sounds?

Did you really analysed the OP " system context " and what is happenning with that cartridge signal ? if yes then is not " weird " that Wilson speakers are not for you as you posted somewhere.

In the other side, I’m not telling if something is wrong or not only what in reality is happening and if you as the OP are happy good for you and good that your priorities coincide with the OP ones.

Regards and enjoy the music,

Steve, that's exactly what I was thinking just not in exact words that you used. Not sure why but I tend to think that my Redgum integrated has a better power amp section than preamp section, at least for my system. This does get interesting. How could I prove or disprove it? There is no way to separate them. No other higher end equipment on hand to experiment with. But yes, it sounds good as it is, no concerns. I started this thread mostly to share the experience.
Some people just don't understand normal language, free world or not, or any language at all.
Forgot to mention, I recently got PS Audio PPP regenerator and plugged everything in it. It really cleans up the currect and stabilizes the voltage, no dynamics restriction in my system. So now you can hear even better the differences of various configurations.
This is a totally free world, like it or not.
I wish you were correct, Raul, but your couldn't be further from the truth if you tried.

This is an open forum. Anyone can post to any thread. If you don't like what someone is saying then just ignore it. Doesn't your integrated have seperate pre out and power in connections. Most integrateds do. Tis will allow you to listen to the pre or power section by itself.
If you like it better then it is better, use your own ears!

Dear @stanwal : """  If you like it better then it is better... """

Why are you so complacent with?, that audio statement really makes sense to you taking in count the " system context " of the OP experience with that critical/sensible cartridge signal?

I think that one way or the other your explanation/foundation about certainly is welcomed by all Agoner´s. Could you do it?, thank's in advance.

Regards and enjoy the music,

Just discovered that the Redgum integrated has a passive preamp. No wonder, I have enough transparency but not gain. So the deck acts as an active preamp. Cool, though not the best solution, of course.
Raul ...DO post....I appreciate your input....and although I agree, the end user should listen the way he/she wants.
Dear @stringreen : Yes, it's her/his privilege.

Regards and enjoy the music,