Time to blast off from Rhea

I made an impulse purchase 1.5 years ago of a Rhea phono preamp. I have a low output MC cartridge, and was actually saving for an AR Reference 2. The dealer sold me his demo for a good discount. Upon getting it home, with my smaller room and efficient speakers, heard the noise. Dealer not willing to take it back as it was a demo sale. I replaced all the tubes with a set from Jim Mcshane which made the situation tolerable, but with limited use, these tubes became intolerably noisy. Put in some vintage RCA tubes in the V1/V2 and it sounds great again. Is this just the price to pay for pure tube amplification of 56 db? Should I just sell it, and buy the Parasound JC3 and be done with it?
Your title appears to say that you have already made your decision.
though I no longer listen to vinyl I used to have a Herron phono stage, VTPH-2 and it was dead quiet. I did demo the Rhea and really preferred the Herron. You can have you cake and eat it to. I have heard the AR, forget which and it did not have much of a tube rush either.
An all tube phono preamp amplifying a LOMC, and using high efficiency speakers is probably going to have some tube rush.

I have 2 suggestions for you. Talk to Andy at Vintage Tube Services, if you have not already done so; and try a SUT, maybe Bob's Devices, with your Rhea. It obliviously will not be all tube phono amplification any longer, but if you like the sound of the Rhea, it may be a good solution.
No, I had a Rhea and decided that, while I loved the sound of tubes in a phono pre, the noise was too much. Then had a Manley Chinnok, which was superb and DEAD QUIET, then traded up for a Steelhead, which is even quieter, as quiet as any solid state component I've ever owned. So it can be done with tubes. By teh way I tried an AR3 phono pre and didn't think much of it, the gain was too low for me. Manley is the way to go in my mind for tubes phono stages. Plus the flexibility with gain and capacitance is second to none.
I think the Herron and am sure the Audio Research phono stages use a FET front end for the additional MC gain.
I, like Davt, directly compared the rhea signature to the Herron vtph2 and the Herron was quite a bit better. Quieter, more detailed and much more natural sounding. Also compared it to the zesto and it won out there for me too. Since purchasing the Herron I haven't even thought about phono stages, I just listen to it.
Well I guess I will chime in and offer more support for the Herron VTPH-2. It is very detailed and quiet and natural sounding just as others have mentioned. I have the higher gain version and I am using NOS Tele's in mine.
I compared the Rhea to the Manley Chinook and bought the Manley, in my system for my taste it was really no contest.
I purchased a Rhea on audiogon a few years ago, got it home and thought something was wrong with the noise. I spent $700 on tubes and made myself think it was better (bought an extra pair of ampex or could have done it for $500). Well... a year or so later, and more upgrades - cables, speakers and amps and preamp (left the Rhea in) and guess what? My Rhea (same tubes and everything) is as quiet as a tomb. Funny. Better (or more compatable, not sure and don't care) gear downstream quieted things nicely. The Rhea is awesome and I can only imagine what the signature upgrade will do.
The noise issues in the above posts are probably from improper setup. It sounds like there is too much gain. Try lowering the gain on whatever input you are using on the Rhea and see if that helps.

You can also have a problem with mixing balanced and se components. Can you post a list of your system? Make sure to include everything. Cables, tweaks etc.
DON'T buy a JC3 I had it and it was noisier than a tubed unit I finally went with. (NVO)
I also cast a vote for the Herron VTPH-2 . A great phono preAmp. Also Keith Herron is one of the best fellows in Audio and will give wonderful service if needed.
The Rhea is noisy. No doubt about it. However, in my opinion, you can quiet it down substantially with the right tube complement and as reward, you get a unit that punches way above its price class in musical expressiveness, tone density, instrumental texture, palpability, and 3D realism. No, I haven't compared it to any other tubed units in my system, but that is the point, neither have I felt the need or desire to. The Rhea has created such a wonderful synergy with my system, the balance of which is entirely SS, that I would be loathe to abandon it. Were I inclined to invest more money into my system, it would be in the area of room treatment, rather than switching out components. My advice is that you audition in your system anything you might consider replacing the Rhea with before "blasting it off", as you may come to discover that the lose of noise came at a greater sacrifice than you expected.
If you do not want to deal with tubes in your phono preamp, I recommend you look for a Klyne phono preamp instead of the Parasound JC-3. Superb build quality and very quiet.

If you want a John Curl design you could look for a Vendetta phono preamp. They sell fast and they are not cheap. It may take a long time to find one.
I'm very happy with the rest of my system. Spectral electonics and cables into Martin Logan Montis speakers.
It was only after the introduction of the LOMC cartridge that I needed a separate phono section since the Spectral preamp had limited gain.
I have demo'd the JC3 which is dead quiet and detailed. As to the Manley Chinook, it basically is a solid state amp, with two 6922 tubes in it for show. I'll give it a posiitive for quiet but for 2200, you can get a better solid state phono section.
I still think that what I said in my first post could be the problem. I've dealt with these types of problems before. Its worth looking in to.
If you like the Spectral phono get a SUT for the LOMC and call it good.
totally agree with Zd542. Really cant ebat it for the bucks and it can be quieted down NICELY with the right set up. I also neede to move mine a shelf down. Go figure...