CJ ACT 2 v. VTL 7.5 v. ARC Ref 3

I am thinking of moving to a replacement tube pre with remote. My current Wyetech Opal, which is awesome and which I love dearly, has no remote and back problems are now leading me to a pre with remote.

I have a CJ PF-R in BR system and like the "old" CJ sound -- to a point. Have not heard VTL 7.5, but have heard an ARC Ref 1 and it seemed a bit on the sterile side. Don't know Ref 3's "character"

Any comments on strengths/wealnesses among these 3?

Krell 300cx amp
Dodson 218 DAC
CEC TL-1X transport with RAM mods
MAC MR80 tuner
Von Schweikert VR5 HSE spkrs

Valhalla, Elrod Statement and Sig PC's
Stealth Sextet Digicable
Valhalla, AQ SKY IC's
PAD Venustas spkr cables
Original Shunyata Hydra

Thanks for info. This will be a traumatic change.

Hi Nglazer,
I compared CJ ACT II to ARC REF3 in my system. I bought ARC Ref3. Can't comment on VTL 7.5 or BAT

Let me know please what Valhalla and Elrod Statement power cords connected to in your system?

Eugene, could you comment on the audible differences between Act 2 and Ref 3, and what where the key factors that made you decide in favor of Ref 3?
I also was able to auditon both the CJ and the ARC Ref3 in my system at the same time from two different dealers. I found them both to be first class pre amps. However, I went with the ARC. As good as the Act ll was, it did have the CJ house sound which is a little to warm for me while the ARC simply disappeared.
ARC3 had better image density, presented lager, deeper soundstage and had better harmonics. On some CDs instruments seemed better separated with CJ. But overall Ref3 was a clear winner.

There were two more candidates during my test – Aesthetix Calisto Signature and dcs Elgar DAC with variable output. Aesthetix couldn’t compete with others with its factory Sovtek tubes. In regard to dCS Elgar, it was connected directly to CAT JL2 and on some good recordings surpassed my system with Ref3 in it. But that was only with two CDs out of ~ 30 good recorded CDs I played those days. dCS could never play piano right and didn’t present soundstage as good as preamps did.

Other components during auditioning were:
Avalon Eidolon
Meridian 508.24
Stereovox IC and speaker Cable
Nordost Vishnu, Shunyata Anaconda Alpha and NBS Serpent power cables