'newer' Integrated Vs. 'older' Separates

I've been looking for either a pre/ power combo or a high powered integrated amp to use in my system. I will be running a pair of NHT 2.5i's and my source is a Rotel 971 transport and MSB link Dac III with half nelson upgrade. I will not change these components for the time being.

Here's my dilemma:

I had been eyeing an Audio Research LS 3Br (balanced, with remote) which seems to be (is?) hard to find. I was going to couple it with a power amp (that was yet to be determined), probably the likes of an Audio Research D130 or a Blue Circle BC22.

Unfortunately, the LS-3Br was sold before I got to it (it was sold in a matter of a couple of days from when i first saw it). I am extremely annoyed at having hesitated with the purchase in the first place which resulted in a missed opportunity. I realize I can get a standard LS-3 or LS-3B fairly easily, BUT I want a remote control.

Now, for slightly less money than what the aformentioned items would have cost me, I can pick up a demo model Classé CAP 151. It has remote and it has some nice features including the ablity to separate the amp and preamp in the unit. Essentially, this would be a convenient way to incorporate the unit into home theatre.

I have heard the CAP 151 with a pair of NHT SB4's and was not particularly impressed. I mean, it sounded good, but i'm not familiar with that speaker and so i'm not sure if the shortcomings were from the speakers or the integrated.

I have NOT heard the LS3BR and it would have been purchased based on its reviews, its remote and the calibre of Audio Research's name.

I'm not sure that I want to wait for another LS3Br to come along (which could take a LONG time) or if i should just go with the classe cap 151.

Are they in the same league at all? would the ARC preamp and amp combo walk all over the highly regarded Classé?
What kinds of sound quality advantages would one have over the other given my setup?

I do NOT like up front, in your face presentation, but I also do NOT like a presentation that is too laid back.

Should I get the CAP 151 or should I wait for other used ARC gear to come around?

Frustrated beyond belief,
You haven't stated your budget in terms that I could readily interpret but my immediate impression is that your search is awfully narrow. There are many other remote control preamps and integrateds to choose from. Why are you limiting yourself to that "either/or"?
I personally like Classe over ARC but I have not heard a ton of ARC either so my statement may be unfair (100.2 and VS55 recently). I am more familiar with Classe and find that the sound, to my ears anyway, is not too laid back nor is it in your face and that most of their components have a similar "family" sound. Similar sound to Classe, and with remote, you have BAT VK300i (a bit pricey perhaps) and McIntosh MA6500 (lovely presentation with surprising power). Good luck!
For around $1500-1700, you could pick up a Musical Fidelity A3cr pre/power combination that is very good for the money, looks great and has remote. Sonics would be described as transparent with excellent sense of space and air. Neutral balance or maybe just a touch on the warm side of neutral, but not much. For less money you could get a similar looking MF integrated, which I have not heard and can't compare personally.

The bottom line is that seperates are always going to sound better unless a serious budget is an issue. I have listened to quite a few int. amps that sounded very good (krell, classe, mcintosh, yba, and sim moon.) and I can tell you that they have come a long way, but the seperates will run cooler, hence less fatigue, and have a better overall sound to them. If you are looking to save some cash, an int. amp is the way to go.....I do think that 80+ percent of people that have a second system, will have a great sounding intergrated amp...I also think that somewhere down the road, you will end up going to seperates, call it a hunch....Enjoy

ARC components you've mentioned could be boring IMO but at least present with presicion and even with reality. Classe Cap is definitely laid back component that you might not like.

If you're in hardship acquiring ARC 3Br than you can get 3b and than used Creek remote volume control for extra-bit.
Go for the Classe CAP151!

You could get some great deals on older gear like the ARC pre and Power combos for sure! I had all the combos, ARC with Krell, Classe, Gryphon, Tube and ST and all tube and lately I have been learning something!

If you dont need the monsterous power to drive an Apogee Diva like me, these are my new targets:

Jeff Rowland Concentra/ Mark Levinson integrated/ The BAT for some reason was not my cup of tea/ YBS Passion and the MOON 5 integrated! Very nice pieces and not forgetting the Classe CAP151 (great value for the money, will control your NHT's) Good luck! New engineering does go forward most of the time but not always! These new integrated amplifiers do sound very very musical and they look sharp as well.

You save a fortune on your amplification with out the fancy interconnects!