Question DAC & Phono vs Stereo Preamp, seeking upgrade advice

Oct 25, 2021
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I've been looking at upgrading my Schiit Mani phono stage (very high noise floor) and my Topping D10 DAC (I think it's okay, but I'm sure I can do much better). Of course there are a lot of options, and I'm not sure if I would be better served by a pre-amp that can handle both, or by discrete units. I use an Emotiva Basx A-100 amp for my desktop speakers and headphone duties, fed by a mixer so that I can easily control music while gaming. I mention this to get ahead of the question of why I'm not necessarily seeking an integrated amp, except to employ it as a pre-amp (for now anyway), though it's certainly on the table. The PS Audio Sprout 100 caught my eye, and it can do exactly what I want, in a compact form factor, but I do wonder if it would be wasted on just pre-amp duty, and if a separate DAC and phono stage would be a better value for the same budget of $700 or less.
What do you think?
Would the Sprout be a poor fit for pre-amp duty?
Which DAC and phono stage combination would give me the best value?

Thanks!
 

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