EAR 834P vs. Audio Research PH-3

I am currently using a EAR 834P as my phono stage and have thought about trying the Audio Research PH3 but don't know whether it would be worth it. Any thoughts?

I would be running it with an AES AE-3 (or a Melos 110b if I can't sell it) and an AES SE 1 sig. using the 300B. Also, I am using a Benz Micro Glider HO on a VPI Jr. and the rewired Rega RB300 arm.

Thanks for all your help!
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If you are in the tri-state area (NY)....I have an ARC PH3SE. Happy to have you take a listen with your EAR 834P!
I have owned both units in the past and they have a different sound. I found the EAR darker but more flexable(can switch from MM to MC) than the Audio Research. The PH-3 was more open, better detailed in the mids and top end. If I remember correctly, the EAR has more gain than the PH-3 but if you are using a HO cartridge the PH-3 should work fine. As always, this was in my system, my room ect. and using stock tubes so your experience may be different.
These are two different classes of phono stages and offer the performance on the different levels accordingly. Used price of PH3 is higher than new price for 834P. The medium output for PH3 will be the best match. PH3 is quiet since it's basically minimalistic tube-MOSFET design that provides detailed and open sound that can be compared with even more expencive units. 834P is on the same level with Black Cube and Phonomena providing much more 3d and music than BC and/or Phonomena. 834P'performance is even more depend on tubes than PH3 since PH3 has MOSFET output stage. In 1...10mV input signal levels 6922 tubes are absolutely noiseless. EAR834P has two gain settings MM and MC. MC setting is the same or even less than PH3. EAR produces an excellent step-up transformer that costs approximately the same as phono-stage that boosts-up the gain to 30dB and matches the impedance for the cartridge.
Some comments on the EAR Phono: First, the premium chrome unit is supposed to not only look better, but sound better than the standard black model, due to a heavier chassis. Second, I really like EAR products, but they do obtain their affordable price point by cutting a few corners. The circuit boards that I have seen on a few different models are relatively thin, not what I would want to minimize vibrations and resonance. The EAR Phono has a minor design flaw as well. Without going into design details, the circuit board is not supported properly. The front corners of the board are actually floating free!!! (This may only be on the chrome unit, and not all production years). This is a simple fix, with two plops of BLUE TACK or those little self adhesive rubber feet sold in hardware stores. Put 'em under the front corners of the board, for a solid mate with the bottom of the case. Also, sound damping material mounted under the transformer as well as the bottom case and sides (do not apply to the top...ventilation) These two simple tricks will move the EAR Phono into another class of performance (better soundstage, more "air"). Don't forget that the EAR is a pure tube design, while the AR PH-3 is a hybrid (tubes/solid state), according to Marakanetz description. (I do not have experience with the A.R. unit.) This doesn't make either one "better or worse" just different design philosophies and sonic signatures.
There is NO decision to be made, buy the PH3. I have owned both, PH3 is in another league, better in every regard.
Thanks to everyone for the input.

I wish I lived in the NY region so that I could compare, but I do not. I'm horrible at making decisions, but I think for the time being I will stick with the EAR and keep my eye out for a more affordable PH3

Jeffrey....FYI.....the SE version is better then the regular PH....but not by a great deal. If you can find a regular 3 at a good price, snap it up. If, however, you see an SE at a resonable price...do the same!

have you tried rolling the tubes in the EAR? (hmmm....that could be taken as a rather kinky question!).

The main thought that if the tubes are not changed PH is much higher above.

If you change the tubes for NOS or some other equivalents you might come a-bit higher but I bet wouldn't rich half-way.

It's true that PH is less affected if tubes are changed since the output stage is MOSFET.
Thanks for those opinions, Marakanetz!

I have an EAR coming in the post soon, and the tubes were traded out for telefunkens. I'm not sure what it is going to sound like, but there are as many opinions about tubes as about the equipment itself!
I tend to say that upkeep with NOS tubes for EAR is more expencive than in PH3.
Marakanetz....I've heard from a friend that changing the tubes in the ARC PH3 to NOS makes a BIG difference!!! He changed to Seimens......!!!!
tubes in these phonos work in different regime of operations in EAR case tubes are output and in PH3 case tubes are only driving.
IN PH3 there are only three tubes and in EAR probably 4 or more.
That's why I pointed out that upkeep is more expencive for EAR.
Marakanetz, the EAR 834P has 3 tubes not 4. If memory serves me correctly, they are 12AX7's. Further, the AR website says that the tubes in the PH-3 (6922's) are used for gain (output) and not as input tubes. The input is handled via solid state. This would explain the very quiet operation at high gain that you describe. Also, the price of the EAR Chrome (premium unit) and the basic AR PH-3 have similar list prices ($1295- vs. $1495-). Upgrading the EAR tubes to NOS will make a huge improvement in audio quality, as will using an aftermarket power cord (Custom Power Cord Hi Value is a good choice). Since we are talking about NOS tubes, be VERY CAREFUL about your source! There are so many couterfeit, noisy, and improper (for circuit applications) tubes out there that many "good deals" end up making the equipment sound WORSE than the original crap stock tubes (and don't listen to anyone who says that manufacturers "voice their equipment" for common stock Russian, Chinese, or Yugo small signal tubes, and that NOS are a waste of money...yeah, right!!!) I'll say it again, Andy at Vintage Tube Services is the ONLY place to buy tubes! Not only does his testing and matching assure you of the best possible tubes (check out his test bench!), but there were so many varations on a particular tube, so many years of production, and so much rebranding, that a tube selling as a premium NOS might be crap and an overlooked common tube may be gold! Andy's knowledge about tubes will amaze you. The website is: www.vintagetubeservices.com.
sorry, you're right the input is MOSFET. whattadumbami, I messed up everything in my head... probably I did loading experiments too long time ago and forgot.

I don't know if it's possible to find PH3 for 1,5k brand new... I took mine from the original owner and the initial price was $1,889.
Marakanetz, not to worry! And all tube DOES NOT necessarily make the sound of an item better than hybrid or all transistor! Also, your price of $1889- used, was that for the PH3 or the PH3SE? I think that I got the new price of a PH3 at $1495- from the Audiogon Blueboook page.
I've got it used for $850 but the new price on the receipt was $1889 for the regular version.
Hey Guys....have you upgraded the tubes in your PH 3?? What and where did you get the tubes???

On Nov. 5, you state that "the circuit board [of the EAR] is not supported properly. The front corners of the board are actually floating free."

I read somewhere that it is supposed to be this way in order to reduce vibration. It's an isolation thing.
What you think of this EAR mod?!

This is what I had been told by a high up source in the company. Any surface not properly secured will tend to resonate more at certain frequencies than one that is firmly secured. Again, a very easy fix or tweak.
thanks, fatparrot, for the additional info about securing the circuit board. I'll check to see if it is true for mine. It's a little newer, so maybe EAR changed the design.
I've upgraded my PH3 from Sovtek to Amperex BB 6dj8s. The BB sounded worse...thin and lifeless. I've put the Sovteks back.