Has it always sounded congested? If so you could have a few set-up problems. The most common is the impedance loading on the cartridge. I almost never use the recommended load--I do use it as a starting point, but then listen. Lowering the load will bring out more bass, increasing it will bring out treble (very generalized). When doing this you need to be sure that the VTA and cartridge weight and antiskate are all set correctly. These will effect the loading, because they too can have similar effects. For example if the VTA is set too low, it generally brings out the bass. If you set the load with the VTA too low, you would probably use too high a load to compensate. The result would yield something with correct tonal balance (to some degree) but would not sound nearly as open as it could. I am not familiar with the AR PH-3--is it a tube phono stage?? If so, you might consider new tubes if they are getting on in years. I have recently retubed my Sonic Frontiers phono stage with NOS tubes, and it really made a huge difference--probably should have done it a few years ago.