Advice on Phono Stage

I need advice on a phono stage. I have an ARC PH3SE which sounds a little bright in my system. I'm running it through a Threshold T2 line stage and Pass Aleph amps into Dynaudio Contour 3.3 speakers. Turntable is VPI Aries, 10.5 tonearm, and a Benz Ruby H cartridge. Cables are Cardas and Discovery. Can anyone recommend a phono stage that will add a little warmth to the system? I don't want to go over $4000 new or used and would prefer SS over tubes. Thanks.
I say replace your solid state preamp with a tubed one. You already have an excellent phono stage, I suggest holding on to it. Find a used quality tubed preamp from Conrad-Johnson, Audible Illusions or even Audio Research. Don't get me wrong, the Threshold is a fine unit, but if you're looking for a little extra warmth, tubes are the only way to go! Or..., since you already have a tubed phono stage, try running it straight to your amp with passive preamplification - that is just volume control, no active line stage. Try one of the the passive attenuators from DACT, EVS, Placette Audio or Audio Synthesis. With this configuration, I believe you'll get the added warmth you're looking for plus much improved transparency. I just wish I had 4K to spend on a preamp!!!

Good luck and happy listening!
You know, that is a kind of question like: what colour for my car should I choose ? I am a little bit joking.
I know some of your equipment very well ( Cardas, Pass amps, Benz system ).
This is only my opinion, so no one should be dissapointed, the ARC Phono is a nice unit, but it is not an excellent one, it uses Tubes right, but it is sounding ice cold and I think that is the reason why you ask for help.
I think there are a few units available which will satisfy you:
These sound not really warm, they sound right !( and a world class better than an ARC )
Jeff Rowland Phono stage ( doesn't matter which one )
Stan Klyne Model 7
the list is of course not complete but from these I know they go the way you need.
With tube phono amps I am not so well informed, but I heard the Aesthetix is interesting and maybe the Hovland ( Integrated preamp ) but this can be noisy.
That you will definetly hear when using Threshold and Pass amplification.
passive pre is a good suggestion. try tim at luminous audio for a passive pre called the axiom i like the one i have. kurt
the musical surroundings phenomena is very good and very affordable ($600 msrp- often discounted). -kelly
What is wrong with tubes? I recently traded up from an ARC PH3 to a used Aesthetix Io and was so blown away I subsequently purchased the companion Callisto line stage. These are world class pieces with the stock tubes in 'em and with low noise NOS tube selections in the right spots...
Thomasheisig I think you hit the nail right on the head. I think cold may have been the description I was looking for. The PH3 does have tubes, but you would never know it by the way it sounds. I have a ARC CD2 cd player that sounds more natural and it is all SS. They are both made by the same company and their sonic signature is different. You are the second person that mentioned the Klyne. It may be what I'm looking for. Thanks for the advice.
I have an ARC PH3SE and I have never felt it to be dry, cold or clinical sounding. Try a less wiry preamp and different cables(I love the audio tekne cables with this phonostage). Also I assume you have the tube dampers installed, if not get them. Try vibrapods under the unit and get a versalabs woodblock rfi filter with a good power cable. Try the inexpensive but great monarchy cable.
I agree with Jimstrange. The problem you are describing is due to the 6dj8 tube used in the PH3SE. The preamp does not sound dry or cold it just does not sound right (like the real thing unless the right associated components are used with it) This problem can be solved quite simply. If you are using Cardas interconnects between the phono preamp and pre insert a Cardas power cord on the PH3SE. If you are using Discovery interconnect cable between the phono preamp and preamp insert a Discovery power cord on the PH3SE (you will need to try different versions to get the right mix). This will solve the problem that you are describing.
I have a ph-3. I don't find it to be bright in any way. In fact I find it to add warmth and smoothness to the system. You might try a pass labs aleph preamp or experiment with cabling. I used to have that combination with the ph-3 and it was quite nice. You might also try to re-configure the phono stage - are you hearing cartridge overload ? You can solder in some resistors that came with the ph-3 to alter the loading. Another alternative to cartridge loading is to try a different input on your preamp. Some preamps will have less sensitive inputs to accomodate high output sources. The ARC ref1 is an example of this. For solid state, one of my friends a/b compared my ph-3 to a Klyne 3.5 (?). He said the klyne was much better (he's a spectral owner, so you know his tastes!).

I am currently using the ph-3 with a BAT vk-5i & vt100. It's a WONDERFUL combination for me. I have a feeling the vk-5i might cloud up your systems ultra-pure sonics. That's is what I found when I ran all pass labs/audio physic. My pass labs aleph 2's were consistently better suited to an ultra-quiet solid state preamp (adcom 750 or pass labs p) than to a tube preamp (audible illusions, bat vk30). The tube preamps just seemed to take away that 'wire with gain' quality of the alephs and did not add much tube-wonder soundstage. Email me if you are selling your ph-3 SE !
If you haven't already done so, try experimenting with (1) cartridge set-up and (2) cartridge loading in the PH3. You may be able to solve your problem without replacing anything or spending a dime.