Which preamps is better? ARC REF 3 vs MC-2300

I'm plaining to buy one of these pre-amps. Can anyone give me any suggest?
I have heard both and I own an LS26 and place the MC-2300 closer in performance to the LS-26. I have had a Ref 3 in my system on an in home demo and it really is many steps above the LS-26, however I have been told the LS-27 exceeds the performance of the Ref 3.

Hope that helps, my vote is for the REF3
Ref 3 all the way (full disclosure I own the Ref 3). For me the the Ref 3 is more resolving, more dimensional, and more tonally neutral yet accurate). The C2300 is a bit muddy and thick sounding in the mid- and upper-base, so it gives it a fuller, meatier sound but that obscures a lot of the detail and resolution that is evident in the Ref 3. The C2300 is easy to listen to (warm sounding preamp) but again it robs the performance of resolution and of rythmic pace (a bit slow sounding).

I am sure you will find many C2300 fans who will disagree and suggest the C2300. You should obviously try to listen and decide for yourself.

Good luck.
I found the C2200 much better sounding than the C2300. With tube rolling you can tailor the sound since the stock tubes are junk.
Ref 3. Cmalak's description of the differences is accurate. I test listened to the Ref 3 once against the Mac C1000. I initially preferred the C1000 but that was because I was doing the comparison in a system with a Mac amp. I purchased ithe C1000 and was in an all Mac system for a few years until I heard an all ARC system. The differences are huge. Mac has a smoother and thicker sound. Fatter in the middle. But Mac also substantially obscures detail. A dealer who sells both once told me that he sells Mac to customers who want a user friendly experience with a nice blue-lit ambience. He sells ARC to those who want a more transparent sound without the ambience and less bells and whistles.
Thanks for all your informations. Because my uncle, he has a REF-5 and to me it's sound amazing. It's soft, warm, transparent and specially very very details. But I can't afford it so looking for step lower which is Ref3. But some of my friend say try out the MC-2300. So i'm not sure which one i should go to :(
Misterldk, did you mention which amp you're using? Synergy is very important. I own ARC gear and am a major booster. I used to own the Ref 3 and loved it. This may be heresy, but I didn't think the Ref 5 was in a different league than the Ref 3. I just upgraded the Ref 5 to the SE version. Jury is still out - I'm still running it in.

But . . . here's a simple synergy Q. Do you know the input impedance of your amp. The Ref 3 should NOT be presented with a combined output load of less than 20K ohms. I say "combined" because some folks like me run the amp off Main 1 and a self powered sub woofer off Main 2. The combined output impedance presented to my Ref 5's 2 outputs is 157K ohms, which is good.

If anybody on this thread was using stock tubes in the C2300, then it's a big mistake from the get-go. Mac uses absolute junk tubes.

I have not heard the Ref 3 in my system, only an LS25MK2 which isn't in the same league
I'm having a Sonic Frontiers SFM-160 monos , ML-31.5 Cd transport and ML-30.5 DAC. Driving the Dynaudio S5.4. Do you think Ref 3 will suit in my system?
First Q is what is the input impedance of the SFM-160 monos? The ARCDB web site posts the following relevant specs for the Ref 3:

"Gain Main output (SE or BAL input): 11.6dB Balanced output, 5.6dB Single Ended output.

"Input impedance 120K ohms Balanced, 300K ohms SE, Inputs (7): CD, TUNER, VIDEO, PHONO, AUX1, AUX2, PROCESSOR. (XLR and RCA connectors).

"Output impedance 600 ohms Balanced, 300 ohms SE main (2), 20K ohms minimum load and 2000pF maximum capacitance. Outputs (3): 2 main, 1 tape (XLR and RCA connectors).

"Maximum inputs 20V RMS maximum Balanced, (10V RMS SE).

"Rated outputs 2V RMS (1V RMS SE) into 200K ohm balanced load (maximum balanced output capability is 30V RMS at less than 0.5% THD at 1kHz)."

Check the rest of your equipment to see if the output impedances of your CDP and DCA match with the input impedance of the Ref 3, and vice versa.

Ditto re the input inpedance of your amp. ARC recommends that it not be less than 20K ohms. Does your amp ask for any min/max output impedance of the linestage.

All of the relevant Ref 3 data is listed above.

I find this post interesting, in that it begs the question of whether a preamp should sound like anything. I have read so many reviews (in the rags) of preamps wherein the reviewer said something like "a good preamp should sound like nothing at all" and then went on to describe the unit in their system and how it sounded. And I ignored the whole thing about the preamp sounding like "nothing", and got very interested if it was a good review. I imagined what this amazing component could do for my system (in other words, if it is truly transparent, it should do nothing for your system other than provide a good connection hub for the rest - it should add nothing). And over the years switching between different preamps I have considered them a separate component, like an amplifier or source, that should be adjudicated on its own merits of 'sound quality' -- or, what it adds. Recently I revisited the whole notion of a preamp sounding like 'nothing.' A recent review compared a preamp with a source component driving the same amplifier directly. (That didn't used to be possible, until now with the advent of digital components with adjustable volume/output). And I realized, why would you add a third component (between your source and amplifier) of variable quality, unless you really needed a traditional preamplifier because you needed a switching mechanism between numerous source components and other devices. And lots of wires. I found myself looking for a better sounding preamp, when I had what I believed was a transparent preamp (i.e., "nothing") and only one source. I think it is a trap to look at a preamp as adding something to a stereo system in terms of sound. If it is adding something, then truly something else in the chain must be lacking, no? I think unless one is connecting multiple sources, and possibly biamping from the same preamp (needing all the extra connection capability), preamps are not needed, and the paradigm of considering the additive qualities of a preamp is simply bunk. That is, only the detractive qualities (from "nothing") should be considered. And no doubt I'm rehashing something somebody else wrote here or elsewhere a long time ago...