Audio research PH1 alternatives ?

Hello everybody.
Love my Coph Nia MC phono stage (feed it with Pink Triangle export+ Denon D103 + Sme 309) but had a friend of mine bringing his Audio Research PH1.
Before he warmed up nothing special but after that..........
In comparison with the coph the audio research was able to convey a more lifelike sound. Not a much relaxing sound, in this Coph excells, but a more forward and real sounding music.
The session concluded that I can still upgrade the vinyl playback just upgrading the phono stage. It sounds logical being the coph a fraction of the PH1 cost. I kindly ask you your opinion and also looking at a fair price when the PH1 has some similar quality alternatives at a lower price.
If you will advise valve pls consider hum free gears as I am in a hum picking area.
Tks so much

PS.: The rest of the equipment is Goldmund pre+power amp+ Burmester rondo 995 speakers. Silver type cables
I owned the PH2, the later balanced solid state phono stage to the single-ended PH1. Without a doubt, I would say that the PH2 was the most neutral audio product I have ever owned. This was one of those products that got very little attention and yet was miles ahead of much of its competition. But its all balanced configuration kept many away. After 7 years I sold it as I needed another 6db or so of gain with my Koetsu cartridge. I ended up with a BAT VKP10 which is also an incredible phono stage, but to be honest, I could have lived with the PH2 forever. I have no doubt the PH1 is very similar in this regard. But keep in mind, the PH3 is a different beast. At first listen it sounds great but quickly fatigue settles in when you are used to a more coherent and laid back presentation of something like the PH2. I have seen the PH1 for around $500 and I suspect it does not get any better than this for value. So keep your eyes open.