Rhea Signature vs. ARC PH-7

I currently have an almost new ARC PH-7 as my phono stage. I'm running that through an Aesthetix Calypso standard, and finally through 2 Pass Labs XP-100.5 monoblocks. I have limited resources to upgrade my front end, but am leaning toward going with all Aesthetix Signature models-the Rhea and Calypso. By the way, I have a new Lyra Delos and am considering a Dynavector DRT XV-1S held by a new VPI Scoutnaster with the JMW 9 Sig arm. I'm sure some of you have heard these two-possibly even side by side. I realize it's all about personal preference, but does anyone have a recommendation? Something to consider-both Aesthetix will be upgrades to Signature from standard. How will that affect the resale value? The standards technically won't be new, but yet they will.
A lot of thoughts have changed regarding audio advice compared to 'back in the day'. 'Back in the day' many were running expensive speakers with cheap little receivers believeing that amplification did not matter, the speakers were all that mattered.

You are right on the money regarding the law of diminishing returns, it kicks in earlier than many believe and hits hard. Yes, spending a lot more money usually gets you better sound. Whether it is worth the money to you or not depends on how much money you have and what other priorities you have in your life. It will be different for everybody, even different for the same people at different times.

For example, I upgraded for many, many years and had a system with a list price of over $120K. Due to economic and health issues, I have cut back greatly, my current system lists for around $20K. Is it as good as the $120K system? No. However, it does come a lot closer to it sonically than I care to admit. It certainly makes me think twice about upgraditis.

I have not heard the PH7, I have heard the PH5 and I have owned the ARC Ref 3 preamp, so I am familiar with the ARC house sound. I have heard Aesthetix gear, but I have not owned it, it does sound similar to ARC gear. From that side of the tracks (neutral tube gear), I've grown to appreciate the sound of VAC gear the most. These are all personal choices, and I could live happily with any of these brands.

Hey, in the end it is your money, and you can spend it anyway that you choose. If you believe that the cartridge is the most important part of the analog front end, go ahead and buy the Dynavector XV-1s, it certainly is a great cartridge.

John M.
If you are happy with ar 7 stay there. I purchased a demo combination of VIP Aries dynavector tone arm and xv1s cartridge as an impulse. My phono section did not have the gain so I started on the phono section hunt. What I truly loved was the audio research ref 2. At 13 k out of the question. Wound up with end of year demo aesthetic rhea signiture. Had always heard in large sound room. When I got it home it was audibly noisy. Dealer said the Jim white had heard it and was in spec. Got a new tube set for 250 dollars, and though not as quiet astt he ref 2 t,very enjoyable. Over long term wonder how quiet will last as tubes age, despite being all tube at ref 2 totally quiet. They also show up here used and hold value well. If I have a windfall the ref 2 is my choice
I used to own an ARC PH-7 for several months. My friend brought over a RHEA Signature to compare with the PH-7. I liked the RHEA better in my system. Then I borrowed an ASR Basis Exclusive to compare with the PH-7. I liked the ASR the most. I ranked these three phonostages as follow: 1-ASR, 2-Rhea Signature, and 3-PH7. Again, it is my opinion based upon my system.

I recently listened to the ARC REF2 SE in a friend's system and it is very good. So if you have the budget, I would highly recommend the ARC REF2 SE.
If you consider Dynavector XV-1s, one consideration would be that ARC PH series has gain of only 58 dB. I think that is really a bit too low for XV-1s. I probably would use ARC PH series with cartridges with at least 0.4 mV. Some preamp sounds find when you crank up a bit more volume than usual but some preamp does not sound so good when volume has be cranked up high. I don't have any experience with Asthetix preamp so I don't know how that would go. For XV-1s, I would prefer something with at least 64-66 dB of gain or higher personally.

Regarding JMW arm, I used XV-1s with the full 10.5 arm for quite awhile and had very good result but XV-1s did sound somewhat better, may be different would be a better word with Graham arm but it was also a different turntable so who knows. However, the new one piece 3D printer VPI arm that is coming sounds very interesting and initially feedback sound promising so it might be something worth waiting for.
Pls explain why the JMW 9 Sig is not up to snuff for the XV-1S.


This thread might provide you with an answer to your question.