Well you won't get great, extended bass out of a Hovland, nor great dynamics although it does have some assets (great highs). It is quite musical, but the CAT is more so. CAT has GREAT dynamics, is extremely transparent and neutral and has superb bass extension. CAT produces a terrific soundstage side-to-side and front-to-back. Although it has very good detail, I find it more smooth than detailed. It also has one of the best phono sections anywhere right on board. I am not familiar with those particular ARC preamps, but I have never liked the ARC sound (too dry sounding for my taste). I think it is no contest, but then I am a CAT bigot (with an Aleph 4, by the way). The only thing I would say negatively about my system is that, due to the Aleph, it is a little bit laid back in the upper mids. You can tune this by exploring the world of NOS tubes for the CAT, if you wish. The CAT is very sensitive to tube changes.
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