CAT/Hovland internal phono vs external?

I currently have an Audio Research PH3 and Audible Illusions LI. Am considering a one box unit such as Hovland HP100 or Cat Ultimate. Would like to hear from those familiar with these units for their impressions of the phono stages as I listen to more vinyl than CD.
I only know the CAT. I found the line excellent, the phono above average by comparison. The latest audition was at home with a S. Yorke T4/Pluto 6/Clearaudio Discovery, S-Line RG7 amp, Gen V speakers. So, take this with a grain of salt...
Don't know how it compares to the Hovland, though.
Dmailer, I have had an ARC PH3 and an AI, I have also had a CAT Signature (not Ultimate), a Sonic Frontiers Line 3 with an Aesthtix Io phono stage so I have some experience with the ones you mention. I can tell you that, for my tastes and preferences and in MY system, the Hovland ate the ARC PH3 for lunch. Better dynamics, timbre, extension, soundstage, beautifully extended highs and great midrange and a musicality and liquid presentation the ARC could only dream about (now mind you I haven't ARC's Reference Phono Stage).

For me, I am even listening to more vinyl than ever before with the Hovland (yes, even more than the SF/Aesthetix combo). Sometimes the KISS principal really works wonders and, in this regard, my former 4 chassis 36 tube 150 lb. line/phono stage was replaced by a one-box six tube sleek looking beauty (and eliminating an interconnect) and I haven't looked back.

Are there better out there? Maybe. Blowtorch? Zamden? Connoisseur? ARC Reference? I don't know and don't care right now. In any event, I don't think there is much of a chance of you not hearing an improvement in the Hovland over the ARC PH3/AI combo. I hope this helps.
I have heard the Hovland very impresive.I love my Rogue 66.When $ allow the Hovland will be seriously considered.
Hovland pre is impressive in some ways. It does have some of the most outstanding high frequency extension and detail anywhere. Mids are smooth and liquid. Dynamics are average. Soundstage is above average. Where it falls down is deep bass extension. It is just not there. I heard it in a demo with stock tubes. Did anyone else hear what I heard?