McCormack's phono stage for the RLD is same as the standalone micro phono box which is a very good value based phono pre. I used to have one & would recommend doing the addon. Your desired level of analog involvement would determine your front end choice according to $ investment. Rega or Music Hall if you're only testing the waters, VPI, Basis or Clearaudio are certainly all candidates if you're getting in deeper. Just stick with something that will hold a stable setup once it's dialed in. Various opinions on this are available in the forum archives both here & on the Vinyl Asylum, which has a lot of good info available as well.