The PH7 might not have enough gain for most low output MCs.
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Just put 50 hrs on mine and getting better.Have used the Ref phono which was no slouch but the new ph7 is quite a bit better in terms of overall resolution.It only has 57.5 db of gain so your cartridge output should be high enough to handle this baby.IMHO Audio Research has set a new standard in phono stage performance.
Thanks for your responses. For those of you that have the PH7 can you provide any comparatives to say the Lamm LP2 Deluxe, IO, Groove Plus, Steelhead, etc.?
FYI, I use a Lyra Helikon (not SL or mono)which is around .35mv. I, too, had some concern about the PH7's gain of 57.5 db. The last phono stage I had (and did not like -- not enough air) was a BAT VK-P10 (non SE version)which I ran at about 61 - 63 db. I loaded it down to either 2k or 10k as I recall, as running it wide open at 47K had some top-end tininess. Currently happy with an ARC Ref 2, MK II pre. Wish also the PH7 had balanced outputs to run balanced into the Ref2 which I run balanced into my Pass XA200 monoblocks.
I am demoing the PH7 at the moment and boy does it sound nice.
Personally I have never liked the ARC "aluminium foil" sound, but they have changed for the better on this phono stage.
It has enough gain for my dyna-xv-1, even thou I can get up to 90 on the volume control, however that is very loud.
I think Tim on the soundstage review nailed the sound to a T. The whole musical presentation is just superb.
I am getting closer to trading in my Pass Xono. It would have been nice to have 2 inputs thou.
anyone else using a PH7 or feel that another phono stage is out and out better, musically
IME, ARC PH7 has a bit lower than expected output gain for LOMC carts with 0.5-0.6mV output(5cm/sec @1kHz). However, it is still possible to use LOMCs if your pre amp can get the rest of the job done well(in other words, you may request more low noise amplification from your pre amp). Hopefully, it will not upset the existing tonal balance of your system.
For sure, it has its own sonic signature: a typical soft, tender, warm, tubey approach. It would be ideal for someone who look for more relaxed presentations, less fatigue for prolonged listening. Not for someone who look for more punch, fast solid tight bass, more body and weight, more dynamics from a phono stage.
The one I used also suffered from excessive background noise on left channel, which may be an individual incident.
In short, to choose PH7 or not very much depend on what you are looking for from a phono amp.
Good luck and VBR