Glad I could help. Most of the posts of those that actually listened to this particular preamp were positive although lukewarm to its performance. I don't really remember any mention of whether or not it was phase inverting.
In any case, in the two plus years that I have had the AE-3, its performance has been very satisfying and rock solid. It originally came with Ruby 6SN7s and 5AR4. I managed to get an NOS NEC 5AR4 and have gone through a few 6SN7's until I settled on the reissue Tung-Sol 6SN7GTBs. Other than the original Ruby, I haven't tried any of the current production 5AR4s so I can't really comment on them. I only used the Ruby 5AR4 for a few months until I got the NEC and, during that time, had no problem with the Ruby at all. You should be able to find Japanese NOS 5AR4s that were made with tooling from Mullard or GE that perform excellently without having to pay dearly for NOS Mullards which seem to be the holy grail of 5AR4s.
The only time I found the AE-3 to be bright was when I swapped in some EH 6SN7s, but I also had a quad of the EH 6550s in the amplifier I was partnering with it at the time. Other than that one instance, I haven't found it to be bright at all.
Overall, I have to say that I really like this preamp. It's very responsive to tube rolling and worthy of serious consideration. The only advice I have is if the unit you're auditioning is relatively new or lightly used, it will still need some time to fully break in the capacitors Dennis Had and company used in this preamp. Until they do, the unit may sound a bit constrained. Once the preamp is fully settled in, just kick back and enjoy the music.