I believe Jtinn can respond to this question. Jonathan?
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As a current owner of the JL-3's and a past owner of ARC Classic60, Classic150 and VT130, I can provide some insight here. The VT130 stereo amp and the VT150 mono amps were the pre-cursor to the ARC "reference" amps. Knowing what speakers you plan to use will have everything to do with whether or not the ARC amp will be up to the CAT challenge. Email me if you'd like specific details.
Greg and Drake: The ARC Reference 300 amplifiers are very good, but a bit noisy and glary. The CAT JL3's are much more powerful sounding than their rated wattage. The CAT's are solid state quiet with amazing control.
If your choices are limited to just those amplifiers mentioned, I would go for the CAT's. If you are buying used, I would automatically get a new set of tubes from Ken Stevens... you will need them.
Greggille: The power supply of each JL-3 monoblock features over 1,000 joules of storage. I do not know about the ARC Ref. 300, but the new 600 watt/channel ARC Ref. 610 monos are described on ARC's website as also having power supplies with 1,000 joules of energy storage. This serves as yet more proof of the incredibly overbuilt nature of the CAT amps, the JL-3's being rated at 200 watts per channel into 8 Ohms.
The CAT JL-3's weigh 170 lbs. each. The ARC Ref. 300's weigh 132 lbs. each. Beefy output transformers and beefy power supplies are what give tube amps their weight.
All of this to say that the CAT's appear to have much better energy storage (i.e., power supplies) than the Ref. 300's.
Sorry for my ignorance here.Are the CATs pentode or triode?If pentode,then Atmasphere makes a case for the Triodes sounding better. I know these(Atmosphere) are OTL.I own neither,but may be interested in future configuring.Thanks,so much!Also,maybe someone could,briefly,explain the diff between all three types.