ARC PH5 or K&K Audio Phono Stage

I am new to the world of vinyl. Only recently, I upgraded my entry point VPI Scout TT to a SuperScoutmaster Signature TT. Cartridge saw a change as well - Benz Glider 2M to a Benz Ruby 3H. Now, I am looking to "update" my phono stage. Currently, I am using an EAR 834P Deluxe which is nice. However, I have had the opportunity to audition two other other phono preamps - namely a Sutherland PhD and an ARC PH5. The Sutherland was not my cup of tea. In my setup it sounded very fatiguing and relatively conjested (I realize it is a top-flight unit, thus the in-home trial). I then had the opportunity to audition an ARC PH5. Now we're talking. This thing is so musical with absolutely no fatigue factor and resolves information beautifully in comparison to the "other" unit. Again, this is in my setup which, by the way, consists of a CJ Premier 16LS line stage, CJ Premier 12 monos and ML Prodigy speakers.

Bottom line is I liked the ARC PH5 a lot. My only concern is this - there are so many good phono stages out there but I do not have the opportunity to audition them because of the market I reside in. So, I have to rely on you experts out there to help before I plunk down the $$s. To make matters simple, I have narrowed my quest down to the ARC PH5 and K&K phono stage (Art Audio Vinyl Reference equivalent). Obviously, I do not have the means to listen to the latter and therefore need some input. I am simply looking for any information regarding a direct comparison of these two units (without bashing either), simply highlighting some of their sonic features, merits, demerits, etc. They both fall within my budget of $2K.

Thanks all.
The PH5 is a good sounding phono stage. For less money and in the same league is the PS audio GCPH phono stage. If ytou live in the US, try it for 30 days - what have you got to lose.
personally I like the PS audio better, it has a lower noise floor and sounds to me a bit cleaner.
Thanks for your input Downunder. Never really considered the PS Audio GCPH as a worthy candidate. Interestingly enough, I own a ton of PS Audio power conditioning products - several UOs, Power Director, and a P-600 Powerplant. The only concern I have is that most SS preamps have a touch of edginess and glare compared to well implemented tube equipment. Just my experience over the years. Regarding quiet, I'm not so sure about how much more quiet the GCPH might be. Based on my comparison to the Sutherland PhD (considered "the" quietest phono stage available today), the ARC PH5 was nearly as quiet. Have you actually compared the GCPH directly with the ARC PH5 to put it in the same performance league, or is it based on gathered input? Thanks again. It might be worth a 30 day trial.
The K&K gets my enthusiastic recommendation. Others I have owned that were not as good:

phono stage of AI 3A
phono stage of Cary SLP-98
EAR 834P
Sonic Frontiers SFP-1
Bluenote Pamphili
phono stage of JJ Electronics 234

Those last two were close, but the K&K is still better. It has just enough tube goodness, but not overly so. And dynamics and slam are excellent. I don't think you can go wrong with this one.

The K&K Audio Phono Stage. Lots of talk about this phono stage on Audiogon Discussion Forum.I like my K&K and used a CJ.Premier 16 LS with it.So do your homework and Enjoy the Music.
I third the K&K.

Impulsively sold mine only to buy a new one 3 months later.

Really has a bit of magic to it.
Never heard the ARC, but another strong vote for the K&K. I too have used a number of units:
Trichord Dino
Tom Evans Microgroove
Audio Synthesis Passion
Clearaudio Reference
I have heard numerous others, the Whest, Tom Evans Groove, Bel Canto, Chord Reference and none came close to the K&K. Its detailed but fatigue free, a rich sound excellent soundstage, but above all QUIET, I never really realised how important this was till hearing this stage. A final plus, it is the only stage I have ever used that does'nt pick up stray radio stations.
Are there better stages out there? I am sure there are and you will hear many people berate transformer as against active MC gain, but the Lundahl transformers in the K&K seem fine to me. I see no prospect of changing my unit and I can't say that about many other components.
One thought, go on the Audioasylum special K&K site and see if there is a user of the unit near to you who might audition it. I am in the UK, not very practical.