|Pathos Logos Integrated Amplifier Review|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Wednesday, 03 November 2010|
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Pathos is an audio company headquartered in northern Italy, in the city of Vicenza. It so happens the region is a hotbed for fashion and jewelry, and Pathos accurately describes its wares as “hi-fi jewelry – small monuments.” When I spoke with John Bevier of Audio Plus Services, the North American distributor of Pathos and other high-end brands, he told me a little about Pathos' history. The company was started by three Italian gents - Gaetano Zanini, Gianni Borinato and Paul Andriolo. The trio shared a passion for audio and used their collective talents to design a new amplifier circuit, which led to the creation of Pathos' first amplifier, the T.T. This amp incorporated Pathos' own INPOL Class A feedback-free circuitry, a mix of tube and solid state that didn't manipulate the audio signal. The result was the mellowness and warmth of tube gear with the speed and dynamics of transistors. But aside from the sound and circuitry, Pathos stood out for its attention to what was on the outside. Instead of some stolid-looking chassis or black box, the T.T. Featured a striking blend of silver, gold and wood; tubes and transistors. In audio, beauty may be in the ear of the beholder, but Pathos brought it back to the eye, too.
One of the first things you'll notice is that the Logos' front panel and its remote contain no wording. This isn't some form of cryptic audiophilia; rather, a conscious design decision not to interfere with the amp's visual esthetic – words would just get in the way. And I doubt many users will miss such markings. An integrated amp is not an A/V receiver, so the controls really come down to basics: volume, mute and input selector. As well, the remote is “wordless,” with just four silver buttons interrupting the frame of padouk wood covering the back and three sides. The remote is still ridiculously easy to use: The top two buttons control volume, the lower two control input. An LCD inside the silver volume dial is the master display, indicating volume and/or input device. The volume control system is 100-step digital and fully resistive. Unlike many volume dials, the Logos' doesn't exactly “turn”; rather, it shifts to the left or right as the control system steps down or up. Even though it's digital, the dial operates with a silky glide and is actually enjoyable to use.
The Logos features two amplification stages: a tube-based pre-amp and a solid state amplification stage. The pre-amplification tube stage is balanced and operates in pure Class A and is backed by its own dedicated power supply. One nice visual comes from the angled mirrors that flank the pair of 6922 EH tubes. By themselves, the tubes emit a pleasant soft, orange-ish glow. Seen in the mirror, though, each tube “splits” into a trio on the mirror's surface; from a distance it appears that to the side of each tube sits a hologram-like twin. It's a subtle yet very cool illusion. The output stage is dual-mono and powered with beefy transformers and power supplies. Working together, the two stages produce a sound with tube-like warmth along with plenty of power to wring out musical details and dynamics. The Pathos delivers 110 watts into 8 ohms and 220 watts into 4 ohms.
There's no great mystery here. Setting up the Logos should take no more than 5 or 10 minutes, depending on how many sources you connect. The amp sports five RCA line inputs, one RCA tape output, one RCA pre-output and two balanced line inputs. The two balanced inputs differ slightly, with “Aux 1” modified to reduce the sensitivity by 6 dB to work better with high-output sources such as CD players. I connected my CD player both via the balanced inputs and the RCA inputs and preferred the RCAs. I'm not sure if it was just a matter of the lower output not delivering the same detail as the RCAs or that my admittedly bargain-priced XLR cables (GLS Audio) weren't up to snuff compared to my other interconnects. Either way, this is still a nice option if compact discs are your primary source material.
Bevier confessed that the supplied stock power cord was nothing special and recommended an upgrade if possible. I have on hand RS Audio's Kevlar Starchord ($179), a 6-foot shielded cable built with “star quad” configuration, a design employing four conductors that RS asserts “minimizes the 'loop area' between twists of the conductors, and is laced with an external ground wire. The cord is thick but very flexible and terminated with Marinco hospital-grade connectors. My past experience with the Starchord has been very positive and it has become my default power cable for reviews, including this one. The speaker terminals are gold-plated and substantial and easily lock onto your choice of termination.
When the Logos is first turned on, a “P” is displayed within the LCD indicating the unit is powering on and warming up. The process takes approximately 1 minute, at which time the display changes over to “0” confirming that the volume level is zero and the Logos is ready for operation. That default zero-volume start-up level is something I'd like to see in all amplifiers, as it can prevent unwanted sound surges and possible speaker damage if a component is turned off with the volume up high or the knob gets accidentally adjusted when turned off. For best performance, Pathos recommends giving the Logos a 20-minute warm-up. Interestingly, the company does not recommend leaving the Logos switched on when not in use. Some audiophiles swear that the best performance comes from leaving a component on 24/7; Pathos asserts that such practice “does not induce benefits in Logos' musical performances and will shorten [the] tubes' life.”