Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???
Yes, point taken re the Integra's analog line stage.
Following the 'many ways to skin a cat' approach, ways of getting around the Integra's analog stage had crossed my mind while reading the thread and one solution that occurred was to use an external DAC with a built-in preamp (the flavour of the times seems to be the Benchmark or Bel Canto, both with analog volume control) and run the DAC's balanced outputs to the power amp. You could then run the Integra's unbalanced Front outputs to the unbalanced inputs of the power amp and thereby not have to swap cables when you wanted 'pure stereo' - in effect, switch off the Integra. Should work so long as you're not playing the DAC and Integra simultaneously. You could even run the unbalanced DAC outputs to the Integra to allow Audyssey and bass-management processing of the DAC. With a little care you could swap between the two for comparison.
At this point I must confess that I am an 'old' (sub-50) high-ender who has been moved to upgrade from an old Casablanca. And so I'm looking to have a modern, solid DAC for my stereo collection while being able to watch musical concerts in multichannel. And, by the way, the multichannel source is a PS3. I confess I even spend the odd hour or so in the driver's seat of Grand Turismo 5 Prologue - a far cry from the real thing but my 16-year old son is amused.... and much, much quicker!