Pathos Logos Integrated Amplifier Review 
Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers
Written by Todd Whitesel   
Wednesday, 03 November 2010

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.


And that's the first thing that jumps out with Pathos' integrated amplifier called the Logos (MSRP $4,795). Not that it matters to the sound, but the nearly 60-pound Logos is one of the most beautiful audio components I've seen. A front panel of padouk surrounds a silver volume dial. Above, sit a pair of tubes in a cut-out of mirrors. And if you can imagine the tubes as “eyes” and the dial as a “mouth,” then the two “cheeks” of brushed metal that angle toward the back complete the “face.” From the Logos' sides branch three sets of fins, which from the top spell “Pathos.” And within the top panel sit seven 2.5-inch vent discs that not only dissipate heat but give the amp additional visual interest. It's an eye-catching combination of retro meets modern, with a delicious minimalism that I loved from the start. That minimalism is carried forth from the amp itself down to the remote control.

Pathos top of Amp

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.

Set Up

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.

Amp internals

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.”

The Sound

When listening to a component under review, I typically ask three questions:

1.    Is it enjoyable to listen to?
2.    Did it reveal something new?
3.    Does it offer good value for the money?

Before I get into specifics, regarding the Logos I'll answer all three with an emphatic, “Yes!” The Logos is an imminently enjoyable listen. It's smooth and mellow, well-rounded with enough crisp on the edge to keep you coming back for more. The Logos doesn't have the sheer, flat and “water-like” neutrality of some integrated amplifiers I've heard, such as the Hegel H-100; what it does have is an engaging blend of velvety tube sound and solid state precision and detail.

When you think of the band Boston, you think of guitar sonics and the golden pipes of vocalist Brad Delp. I'm old enough to remember when the first Boston album was released, playing it on a friend's turntable and being amazed at the sound. Don't Look Back was the highly successful follow-up, with more of the band's trademark melodies and riffs. In 2006, DLB was reissued after being remastered by Boston leader Tom Scholz along with Bill Ryan and Toby Mountain. The sound has Scholz's fingerprints all over, but what impressed me most was the bass. I've heard radio hit “Feelin' Satisfied” hundreds of times, but now I was hearing the low-end accents and notes, and it brought the song together. That was new.

The bass guitar is more prominent in the music of Jelly Jam, a side project involving King's X guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor, Dream Theater bassist John Myung and Dixie Dregs' drummer Rod Morgenstein. The trio's 2004 release, simply titled 2, affords each member plenty of room to stretch out and fill in the musical space. It's one of the decade's forgotten classics and through the Logos everything comes through: Tabor's lush swirls of chords, crunchy riffs and sweet vocals; Myung's sonorous lines anchoring and accenting; Morgenstein's jaw-dropping fluency and musicality. The music rocks hard one moment and then turns sweet the next, and the Logos has the speed to keep pace with the changes. The end of the disc features a humorous phone message from Morgenstein to Tabor, with the former announcing, “Hey Ty, this is Rod. I can only say one thing. 'Holy f*#&*!g, s**t, this sounds unbelievable!'” My thoughts exactly.

Logo front view top off

As I listened to the Logos more and more, I discovered that it doesn't need a great deal of volume to produce full sound, but there was a definite “step” in volume where the tonal picture went from incomplete to what I was looking for. Thanks to the design, it runs warm but never dangerously so. Even after several hours of continual use, I was able to touch the top panel and even the fins without discomfort or risk of burn. And, as expected, the Logos operates with stone-like silence.

A recent release that's been in steady rotation is the California Guitar Trio's Andromeda. It's the first album composed solely of original material, and I believe it's the Trio's best yet. Every guitar and guitarist has a particular sound, and it's fascinating to hear the combined “sounds” of Bert Lams, Paul Richards and Hideyo Moriya flower together on compositions such as “Portland Rain” and “Improv I.” It's like three master weavers spinning yarns of notes into perfect cloth. Look closer at the pattern and the details emerge, and the Logos presents these often delicate patterns with a lovely sonority and detail that's precise but not sterile. The breath of the music remains. Can I use the term “organic” to describe the sound? I just did.

I've had a blast this autumn spinning used vinyl found at various stores across northern Minnesota. My find of the fall is definitely Watts In A Tank, the lone release recorded in 1981 by Dutch rockers Diesel. For a time, the album opener “Sausalito Summernight” enjoyed airplay thanks to its angular guitar riff and groove that sounds like a lost Steve Miller song. The entire LP, though, is a winner and full of variety: from the beach-y vibe of “Sausalito..” to the crunch of “Alibi” and sunshine smile of “Good Mornin' Day.” The Logos goes great with vinyl, not just for the sound but the soundstage. Instruments are presented with precision and clarity, yet with richness and “air” around them that gives character and coherency to music.

Final Thoughts

Across dozens of discs, LPs and different cabling the Logos provided a very pleasurable listening experience. I had the good fortune to audition the amp for 3 months – about twice as long as most components I review – and came away ready to recommend this gorgeous machine to nearly anyone. Some solid state enthusiasts may want for more power – and if you have very difficult-to-drive speakers, a very large listening space, or demand the final word in solid state detail, the Logos might not be your huckleberry. But if you're looking for the best of both sonic worlds – tube and transistor, with superb construction - it's hard to imagine getting more amp for the money. Art meets audio with the Logos.

System Setup

  • Pathos Logos Integrated Amplifier
  • Emotiva Audio ERC-1 CD player
  • Pro-Ject RPM 5.1 turntable
  • Sumiko Audio Blue Point No. 2 Moving Coil phono cartridge
  • Parasound Zphono Preamplifier
  • Better Cables Premium Anniversary Edition Speaker Cables 
  • Better Cables Silver Serpent Anniversary Edition Interconnects
  • RS Audio Cables Kevlar Starchord Power Cable 
  • RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Interconnects 
  • RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Loudspeaker Cables 
  • PENAUDIO Rebel 3 loudspeakers
  • Snell Acoustics Type K loudspeakers
  • Plateau STS-30 Speaker Stands

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