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I agree with you 100% regarding the AI mod 3. I have a Mod 3A with the John Curl MC phono preamp and it is superb. I recently bought the newer Mod 3B preamp and I am going to have the mc phono boards removed from my Mod 3A and installed in the Mod 3B. I tried to use a Denon SUT instead of having to pay a tech to unsolder and resolder the mc pre, but there is NO comparison with the sound with the Mod 3 mc pre beating it hands down.
The build quality is very remarkable considering the price. It is even more so in the newer Modulus 3B, and the sound quality is a night and day difference compared to the Modulus 3A.
The 3B is truly a work of "Art"... I've got the JC gold board in mine and have been loving it for a few years now. If you want better you have to break into the >$5,000 price range. I've got the original VPI Aries with a Rega 300 incognito arm and Denon 103R cartridge for vinyl playback and see no reason at all to upgrade. From time to time I swap out the AI for my Bent passive with an Italian phono pre, but ultimately I come back to the modulus 3B.