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 couldnt 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 didnt present soundstage as good as preamps did.
Other components during auditioning were:
Stereovox IC and speaker Cable
Nordost Vishnu, Shunyata Anaconda Alpha and NBS Serpent power cables