Italy's Pathos is doing for metal what their neighbours at Sonus Faber have been doing for wood. Each amp they produce boasts some new layout unseen elsewhere, they marry wooden trim with the shiniest of chrome, they're redefining ergonomic sensibility. They're so Italian that it hurts. As the pics show, the Logos' main design fillip is a pair of heat sinks which read 'Pathos', which is about as nifty a way of disguising the necessary ankle shredders as any I've ever seen.
Looks may not be everything, but you can sympathise with distributor Nick Green, who was raving about an unusual visual effect he noted at the recent hi-fi show at Heathrow: the chrome-caged valves on the Logos are positioned in a 'cove' formed by the angled, mirror-finish sheets which intersect behind them. Look at the valves at eye level, and they seem to go on into infinity, reflected into the hundreds.
Such is the concern for every visible part of the Logos that the visual thrills never end. There are contrasting metal finishes of chrome and matte, polished and cast, grey and black. No detail is too small to enhance: the venting in the top plate consists of seven circular holes, each filled with fine wire mesh. There's the slim rosewood remote control, with a mere four buttons for source select, level up/down, and mute. The company fitted a chunky rosewood block to surround and protect the massive volume control.
Even the volume control is novel. It doesn't rotate: you just flick it left or right for up or down because it's a digital, 100-step volume control system, 100 percent resistive thanks to an integrated network of high precision, laser-trimmed resistors chosen because they guarantee perfect inter-channel balance. So you never see it move, and the arc through which it can be flicked is small. Lo and behold, there's a red numerical display, shades of Kojak's digital wristwatch, to tell you the level from 0-99. To the left of the knob is a Pathos logo; to the right, an on-off press button and another button which scrolls through its inputs. Simple, elegant, minimalist yet in no way self-abnegating.
This piece of sculpture measures 430x400x172mm (WDH) including any protruding bits. It's a line-level integrated amplifier rated at a seriously useful 110W/ch into 8 ohms, doubling into four. As the literature states, 'The electric network has been laid-out in a feedback-free. "natural" way according to the fundamental principles of the Pathos philosophy.' The pre-amplification stage is all-valve, fully-balanced, and operating in pure Class A mode, fed by a dedicated, stabilised power supply. Its large, complementary pair MOSFET output stage is true dual-mono and equipped with oversized transformers and power supplies, so current should never be an issue, regardless of load.
Just as the volume control is a bit 'trick', so, too, is its only other control. The input selector operates through 'high-tech miniaturised relays', originally developed for very high frequency telecommunication applications. All very slick and very quiet. Operating this is a joy, especially as the remote provides its own tactile thrills. Solid rosewood - you gotta admit it beats the hell out of injection-moulded plastics.
No clutter upsets the back panel, either. Inputs 1 and 2 are fully balanced, through XLRs. Above them are phono sockets for five line inputs, plus a tape output. In the lower left-hand corner is an IEC mains input; the speaker terminals - stout, multi-way posts - flank the inputs. That's all there is, bar the user-replaceable AC fuse.
Pathos doesn't believe in revealing too much, so specs are limited to the aforementioned power output figures and frequency response of 2Hz-200kz ±0.5dB, an input impedance of 100k Ohm, total harmonic distortion of <0.05 percent and an S/N ratio >90dB. Unlike the bigger, dearer and heavier Pathos models, this unit doesn't employ INPOL technology; instead, its circuitry is derived from the more, er, classic Classic One. Reticent with specs or not, I kinda figured that nothing in my arsenal bar perhaps Apogee Scintillas would cause any problems. As it turned out, the Logos loved the Wilson WATT Puppy System 6, but it positively adored the Sonus Faber Guarneri. Could it have anything to do with the two companies breath the same oxygen?Read more about the Pathos Logos on Page 2.