The ph3 should be no problem using aux section with your a/r 9 . You will probably notice a little more body and more pronounced bass. hope that helps.(i too own ph3 into Thor linestage.works great!
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First off I would advise you to listen to other phono preamps. Preferably units with little or no feedback. I have had two PH-3's and became very tired listening to them both. My current phone preamp is a modified Counterpoint SA-9. It's a whole new world music has life and beauty. Being accomplished musician it seems to me that this unit sounds like the real thing. Frankly I can't understand the fuss about the PH-3.
I do not know what Dievoyager's exact experience has been, but I too have tried many phono stages and still prefer the PH3 in the under $5,000 new list range. I have not found a solid state phone stage that offers what the tube stage does for vinyl. There are some tube phono stages out there which are better than the PH3, but all of them are quite a bit more expensive. Given that you can find a used PH3 for less than $1,000 and that you can upgrade it rather easily, either by ARC - which is probably more expensive than it should be- or by an experienced and qualified technician and/or yourself, it really does seem the way to go unless you have $5,000 or more to spend, want to spend it and have a system which justifies the better phone stage. Good luck.
Is yours an earlier generation SP-9? If so, you might alternately pursue updating to the MK-III version which improves both the line and phono stages. I recently updated my MK-II by ARC and notice quite a difference. Definition and dynamics are improved throughout, especially at the low end. Bass is more detailed revealing greater "texture".
I agree, the SP9 MK111 WAS AUDIO RESEARCH'S BEST hybrid preamp with a phono stage.I never had a shootout between the MK111 and the SP9 with the ph3.Upgrade from sp9 to sp9mk111 is $995.00 including new tubes. the same price give or take for a used PH3 PLUS the extra set of quality inter connects.personally I would buy a used all tube design SP6 preamp. regards,RICH