Why blame the product that has exhibited no problems.I would point the finger at the AES unit.
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Lets see if I can point you in the right direction, even though I don't have any experience with AES. The AES is a tube pre-amp, the ssshhh sound is only thru the phono section, and you probably have an MC cartridge with lowish output. Assuming that I'm right so far, what you are hearing is tube rush from a phono stage that doesn't have enuf gain for the cartridge you are using, ergo the tube noise. The for sure cure is to get a cartridge with higher output. The maybe cure is to get very low noise tubes for the tube stage of your preamp. And then again, maybe I haven't got a clue - but this is what you would hear in my system with a very low output MC cartridge.
I think you are close. I am using a Grado reference Sonata MM Cartridge though. It is a fairly high output. 4mV I believe. But the noise is there without the TT plugged into the Era Gold. So I am led to believe it is an issue with the gain of the Era Gold and the input of the AES unit.
There has to be some sort of mismatch between the two units. I just don't know if it is too much gain coming from the Graham or not enough. I guess I should do a little more studying and less guessing.
I had already sold the BC3 just like my original post stated. The Rogue Magnum 99 sounded very good. But, I am not totaly impressed with it. #1 there is no upgrade to the 99, and #2, I don't like tube rolling when the unit is built around a curcuit board design.
So another 99 is not in my game plan.