Tube Phonostage help

I want to add a tube phonostage to my two channel system. I am leaning towards the audio research PH3 SE or the EAR 834P MM/MC Version. Since i have no place in town to listen or compare, i need your help. Any suggestions or preferences on these two units. Cartridge will be a MC at around .8-.9V

Look into the Hagerman Coronet (I settled on the Trumpet and if you want to stretch your budget this is a good choice) or K&K audio phono stage (I use their step-up with my Trumpet) as well. I can't recall on the Hagerman or K&K, but Decware offers a 30 day trial period. I just went through an extended in house comparison of several phono stages so this is all pretty fresh in my mind.
i can strongly reccomend the E.a.r. but i think 0.8 or more will overload the input of the 834p or (because of the strong signal) the input of the following amplifier as happened with my Benz M2 (0.8 mV). i had to trim down the volume on the E.a.r. to keep my Gryphon Tabu from distorting.

i also have a ARC PH5 wich is miles ahead of the E.a.r....and the PH5 is supposed to be better than the PH3 SE...but the PH3 SE may be better than the E.a.r. you have to try.
Thanks Xronx: I have never owned tube gear before. I want to start out with a phonostage and take it from there. Thats a good point about the overload, it seems that a .8v to ,9v might work on some higher gain MM outputs. I think think the EAR puts out 65 gain and somewhere around 45 or so in the MM stage, this might mate better with the MM position. Or i could go with the ACE low MC or the Glider ,4v MC cartridge. this might work better in the MC position. Any other thoughts from anyone. I already have high MC cartridges and i would like to go with a lower MC.

i tried the MM position on the E.a.r. but in my system the MC position caused a more meaty, colorful sound wich i liked better. and before the benz wood i had also a first generation ACE Low wich was a good match with the E.a.r...but if you go for a low output model a Benz L2 would also be worth a try...
My cartridge is a Benz M2 (0.8mV) so I can tell you from experience the EAR won't do it for you unless you go to a low output MC. I would not recommend using the MM setting on the EAR with a MC, only due to the fact that the load is set at 47k ohms (if I recall correctly). Most MC stages allow for multiple load settings, either via soldering, switches or plugs. That is why I did not choose the EAR, incompatibility gain setting with my cartridge in MC mode. You could use the MM setting on the EAR if you also go with a step-up transformer (EAR makes one, as do many others), which would allow you to set the load and gain to your cartridge. I found that 58db is a good setting for my 0.8mV (44db on the phono stage MM setting and 14db through the step-up transformer, cartridge load is 940 ohms).
Thanks for your responses. I was wondering if this could lead to cartridge problems because of the limited settings on these units. I'm not in a position where i can keep buying and selling cartridges until i find one that mates well. I guess we would all like to have an EAR 324 or the Manley Steelhead, but in my case i wouldn't be able to afford any software let alone a cartridge after purchasing one of them. Does anyone know of a tube phonostage within the $1500 range that will allow more flexible loading options? It seems the audio research and the EAR 834p are limited as clio09 stated.

Feel free to email me if you like, but I'll outline a couple things here that may help you out. The Decware phono stages are a good value and Steve Deckert is exceptional to work with. While I chose the Hagerman Trumpet over the Decware it is only because I was in the right place at the right time and got an awesome deal on a pre-owned one. I may know of one available (not mine and not anyone close to me, something I heard of by word of mouth) and with the added cost of a step-up you may be able to purchase the combo for about $1500.

You may also want to check out the K&K Audio phonostage. Kevin Carter is another designer who is great to work with. While I have no direct experience with his phono stage, I know of others who have and like it a lot.

All three phono stages will give you load options on the MC side and will have sufficient gain for your cartridge. I can probably rattle off a few more but one of these should be your ticket.
an MC cart see´s an impedance of 400 Ohms via E.a.r. step up transformers wich is good for ACE L and M as well as L2 and M2...even my Ruby 2 sounds fine with 400 Ohm over the E.a.r....i had a M2 long time running on the E.a.r. and can tell that it´s a meaty dynamic and really colorful sounding combination...there are just here and there problems with overloading the following amp because of the 67 db gain of the E.a.r. and the high output of the M2 0.8 mV...but in my case it only occured when playing really loud 12"´s on 45 upm...i would go for an L2 or an ACE Low wich is a wonderful sounding combination with the E.a.r. and the resulting volume should also be more than enough...
by the way 400 ohms of the E.a.r. is a good value for a lot of other carts...if necessary you can have lower values while using Y adapters and RCA plugs with resistors of the appropriate value soldered in...i did the same when i had my ACE Low running but i liked the 400 ohm more than lower values. and dont be fooled of the simple construction and low price of the E.a.r. it has a rightness and musicality wich is hard to beat.
I added an audio research LS-7 and bought a Rotel 1080 200 watt amp to pair it with my von schweikert VR4 jrs along with the clearaudio Basic phonostage. That seems to have helped alot, instead of runing everythibg off my Nak AV-10 HT amp. Big difference and even mellowed the sound of the clearaudio alittle bit. Still might add a tube phono just to compare, but i am very happy with the new sound of my vinyl. What a difference. Thanks for all the help.
Add George Wright's $825 WPP200C phono preamp to the list. Wright Sound has a long tradition of making superior audio products and I am sure his phono is up to that mark. He specificaly design his equipment to be used with high-efficiency speakers, so you can be sure that any tube noise level will be extremely low.

$1,500 will certainly get you a lot of phono amp on the used market. Check out the reviews and user comments on the Art Audio Vinyl One, Herron Audio VTPH-1, and Eastern Electric Minimax.