I DON'T KNOW YOUR SPEAKERS BUT ALL LOOKS OK.
MY 2 CENTS
I WOULD WORK ON CABLES FIRST, MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE STEALTH WASN'T GREAT, IC'S -SO TRY SOME KUBALA EMOTION LINE/ VALHALLA/PURE NOTE VERSION 4. SPEAKER CABLES TRY KUBALA EMOTION / JENA VALKYRE/ TRANSPARENT REFERRENCE. SEE WHAT THAT DOES. YOUR ML 39 IS OK THE BAT IS OK, SPEAKERS ?
The SOUND you are hearing is what is usual for a need for a real preamp. I would recommend getting the preamp, or at least borrowing a good preamp to see if that can fix your problem.
Norbert, I don't think it's an impedance mismatch because I believe the BAT's input impedance is on the high side and I'm sure the ML's output impedance is low enough not to be a problem.
I don't believe that using a tube CD player or preamp will solve your problem.
Two things I would try are experimenting with speaker positioning and experimenting with different system cabling. The Virgo IIs are VERY sensitive to both of these variables. Another viable option may be to incorporate a quality subwoofer if the above measures fail to satisfy...
It's too bad the Virgos are not biampable, because they seem to like the power and control of solid-state in the bass. I used to use tube/MOSFET hybrid amps with my Virgos and just going through the single input tube softened the bass although it sounded fabulous through the midrange and high frequencies.
I'm now using an Aragon 8002 amp, which has great control in the bass and with the right cabling, sounds quite detailed and musical throughout the audio spectrum. The detailing in the highs is particularly impressive. In my case, switching amps resulted in both performance and financial benefits.
You could try a good pre-amp. A good pre-amp is always a good asset in any system.
I think that cables could be an issue here.
If possible try either IC's Kubala-Emotion/ Valhalla/ Pure Note version 4.
Also I would try the Kubala Emotion / Jena Valkyre/ or the Tranparent Reference speaker cables.
my 2 cents
I would be willing to bet your problem is the lack of a preamp. I tried a passive pre and had the exact problem you are describing. The passive I tried was a pretty cheap - I don't recall the brand. I agree with Elizabeth.
Why is a good pre-amp "Always a good asset in any system"? I have run my system CD direct for several years now, using several different CD players that have variable output. I think it sounds fantastic.
Last weekend I took my Quad 99 CD-P over to a friends house. My friend has a very high resolution system that list for over $25,000. When we played the system using the Quad CD-direct, bypassing his $4000 pre-amp, it was much better than when the pre-amp was in the system. BTW, it is a very highly regarded pre-amp.
There is certainly a place for a good pre-amp, but it is not necessary for all systems. Plus, the big bucks saved on the cost of a pre-amp can be used somewhere else. I'm a huge fan of CD-direct! For my single source system and the type of music I prefer, I like the simplicity and transparency of running CD direct.
Most source components will sound better (more linear freq response, wider dynamic range) through a high quality pre-amp. Sometimes a source component will mate beautifully with an amp, most of the time the impedances vary with frequency, and not just one stated imedance, and the match isn't what the spec's would suggest.
But with any system, it's a "system", so use what works best.
Consider upgrading your ML39 to a 390S. The 39 is a bit "thin" compared to the 390S, which is a far more engaging player. I have run mine directly to both solid state and tube amps; it has a terrific volume control and you will have to spend fairly big bucks on a pre-amp (plus interconnect) to beat it.
I owned a ML 39, upgraded to 390S, and connected directly to a ML 332 amp driving a pair of Martin Logan Odyssey.
The sound was like yours: lacking of dynamics and body, eventhough very detailed and transparent.
Therefore I decided to buy a preamp and, after an unsatisfactory trial with a ML 380S, I purchased an Arc Reference 2 mk2, getting everything was lacking previously.
Some times later, once I heard of all the troubles with the Mark Levinson factory closing, I decide to sell my 390S and purchased an Audio Aero Capitole mk 2 here in Italy where I live.
All I can tell you now is that I am not yet able to decide if I prefer the sound of this fantastic cd player through a very good preamp like the Arc or directly connected to the amp: the result in both ways is really good!
So, my suggestion is: buy a very good preamp (possibly a tube one) and connect your 39 to it, or swap this with a Capitole connecting it directly to your Bat amp.
Hope this helps
I agree with Reubent, using a preamp is not always an asset. In fact, sometimes it is a downgrade.
Jjmali, the poster is not using a passive preamp. The preamp in the ML 39 is based on the ML 380 active preamp. Wes Phillips (who's opinions I respect) had this to say in his review of the ML 39 CD player:
"You think your preamp is transparent? You're probably wrong. I knew this, of course, but I've never heard a CD player's variable output that wasn't more colored or coarse than a good preamp. Not even the best of 'em. So I was stunned by how good the '39 sounded going straight in. It was fast and cleanand more. More depth, more dynamics, more detail, more air... "
So we can rule the preamp out as the culprit, with a fairly high degree of certainty. There are other more likely causes, as I outlined in my previous post.
Since a couple of other posters questioned the cable choices, that appears to be a good place to start...
Thank you for your suggestions.
So the first step is to borrow a preamp.