EAR 834 vs. ARC PH-3?

Both pieces sell for similar amount in used market, but EAR has adjustable gain. Which one would you choose? What about the older Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 Signature? Planning to use it with medium output cartridge (Shelter?) on VPI Aries/JMW. Rest of the system is all tube (SF Line 3 SE, BAT VK-75SE).
ARC has better controlled bass and more quiet than EAR. You should be OK with Shelter having in mind sencitive and high-gain preamp like Line3.
I have owned both pieces and found the PH-3 the better of the two. The built quality of the Audio Research was much better than the EAR, I had to replace the RCAs twice on the EAR. The sound of the PH-3 was more extended both in the midrange and top end compared to the EAR. I think they are both great products at their price points, the PH-3 retails for about 800.00 more than the EAR if I remember correctly.
Hello Semi. I have to concurr with the recommendations of both Marakanetz and Rec.However... I will be a little more blunt and to the point regarding the comparison. The PH-3 is far superior in "every" way and if it was my donero's... the choice between the two is a no-brainer! Cheers David.
Which Shelter are you thinking about? I am currently using the 901 with my PH3 SE. Previosly, I have the Benz M2 which has 0.8mV output. I believe ARC recommended cartridges with 05mV or higher. The Shelter 901 has a 0.5mV output, and is adequate if you don't play the music loud. I have to turn the volume on my preamp (LS-2B MkII) to 11 o'clock position for normal listening (on Jazz). But when I feel like jamming and turn it up to 12 o'clock position or higher, the background noise is noticeable. I am thinking about hooking up a step-up transformer to see how it compares.


Contact Leonard in ARC for gain modification for your LS2B.
ARC preamp's gain is usually set at 12dB gain in single ended mode and 18 dB gain in balanced mode. Most of the ARC preamp gains can be changed by 6dB by just adding a pair of resistors(one left and one right channel). This will give you plenty of gain and not having to worry about step up transformer/additional interconnect/additional line noise/loading with transformer/etc.
The EAR has an uncanny beauty, especially with upgraded tubes. You can upgraded parts to achieve the transparency levels of more expensive phono stages.