Have owned ARC's PH-3SE and Ref Phono units, have heard the PH-5 and currently own a PH-7. Believe the PH-5 to be a notable improvement over the earlier PH-3SE.
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I just got done auditioning the ARC PH3, the PH3Se and the PH5. I am buying the PH5. It was clearly better than both of the PH3 units. A used PH3SE is worth the little extra money over a used standard PH3.
The PH5 had better, (deeper and more controlled) bass. Threw a wider and deeper soundstage and seemed to integrate better with my system. Also having the remote to switch between settings, makes setup MUCH easier.
Thanks for the help. Hearing from folks who have done the straight on comparison within their own system removes so many variables. It's interesting--the reviews of the PH-5 are not uniformly positive. Not sure why this may be the case. Greg--what happens when you go from the PH-5 to the PH-7? Also, does anyone know how a GSNC modified PH-5 might compare to the PH-7 or other top flight phono stages? If I go PH-5 that would be an option down the road.
Thanks for the assistance.