ARC ph1 compared to ph3

I have a Audio Research PH1 would like to know how the PH3 sounds in comparsion. Ph1 is an solid state unit, Ph3 is a tube unit which would suggest not as bright sounding, warmer,ect. How about detail, soundstage ect. My analog gear needs some updating. This is just somewhat of a MAY redo process, as I do not have alot of Analog {150-200 albums} and very few places besides mail order to buy them. My TT is a music hall mm5. I listen to rebook cd and sacd mostly because I have never been able to obtain the sound on my TT without spending big bucks. Just a modest upgrade.

I owned the PH2, which was the balanced version of the PH1, for 8 years. At about year 5, I borrowed a PH3 from my boss who was also a big ARC fan at the time. The PH3 was at first so nice as it brought the presentation more upfront in the room. But 5 or so minutes later, it just got to be too fatiguing. A return to the PH2 and the sound was back at the speakers with a much more natural presentation.

I wanted the PH3 to work as I too was hoping for just a little more midrange bloom from the phono stage but the PH3 was just not the ticket. Just because a product has tubes does not mean you get this quality. I learned this with all the ARC hybrid products and the Sonic Frontiers SFL series line stages years ago.

The PH2 is hands down the most neutral ARC product I owned which included (SP-10, LS5 II & III, DAC3 II, CL60, CL150, VT130) and it has a very silent background. I also felt the PH2 to be more resolving because of its quieter background. This was the sleeper in the ARC product line and unfortunate it never got the praise it deserved vs. so many other ARC products that got all the high ratings, like the PH3, that was not at all in the same league. I suspect your PH1 is right behind the PH2.

The PH1 sells for about $400-500 on the used market and the PH3 for a little more so it sounds like you have about $300-500 to spend for a phono upgrade. That's not much to get what I suspect you are hoping for an improvement.

What I suggest you do is use this money to upgrade the TT. There are many many great TT's w/arm on the used market that sold in excess of $2k new and are around $1k now. For now, the PH1 is not the weak link in your system.

And look into the SilverAudio SilverBreeze phono cable. When I changed to this from an ARC Litz tonearm cable, I could not believe all the detail coming off my records that I had not heard before. From my experience, this has been the second most critical cable link, after the line-stage to amp, in my system.

Good luck.

I owned a PH-1 for several years. The preamp had a consistent sound character----lean bass, no warmth or richness, and a bright treble with a slight edge and grain. I haven't heard a PH-3, but according to a review in Listener magazine it was less solid state sounding.
A PH2 and a EAR 834P would worthy considerations. If your budget permits, listen to the PH5 it is a big improvement over the PH3SE. The PH5 is very defined and musical and never fatiguing. Plus it has a very handy remote controllable method of switching cartridge impedances.
Has the PH5 been released to the public yet. Last time I knew, ARC was about to release it. What is the tube configuriation in the ph5? What about Gain ?
I agree with JaFox.

The ARC PH2 is one of the best products from ARC but least known. I purchased one new circa 1995. I have auditioned several new "super" phono preamps in my system, however I have not felt compelled to replace my PH2. It posesses all of the attributes described by JaFox and some.

It is a steal on the used market in terms of performance. It is also very reliable. I have never experienced any problems in the 10 years that I have used it.

The PH2 is vastly superior to the PH1 and the PH3. I would prefer the PH3 to the PH1. the PH1 is lean and not very musical.