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as reviewed by John Brazier
The Pathos Logos integrated amplifier is not strictly a utilitarian product, and I'm happy about that. It often seems that the better the audio component, the more the manufacturer puts function before form. This tends to be even more the case when the product is tube-based. Unless you have a predilection for tubes, tube equipment is just plain unattractive. Okay, maybe I am being a little too harsh, but a lot of manufacturers seem to neglect the appearance of their products, and with the Logos, Pathos has made an obvious effort to create an attractive product. For example, the cooling fins are designed so that when you look down at the amp, the word PATHOS can be seen in script. The front of the Logos features a beautifully colored block of wood that stretches nearly the width of the faceplate. Set within this block is a cylinder of polished chrome that controls the volume. To me, the key aesthetic element is the mirrors set behind the tubes, so that when they are aglow, the reflection is doubly warm. Also, the tubes are surrounded by polished chrome bands that add to the sophisticated effect. The remote is also well designed—long and narrow, with chrome buttons.
What interested me about the Logos is that its preamp stage is tube-based, while its amplification stage is solid state (there are only two 6922s, and the solid state amp provides 110 watts into 8 ohms). There is an ongoing debate on the internet about the benefits of using a tube preamp with a solid state amp or vice versa. I, for one, am attracted to the idea of getting the benefits of both tubes and solid state without having the amplifier dominate. Though I am not a big fan of completely tube-based setups, I welcome the contribution of tubes.
Though I was not prepared for the sheer size of the Logos' transformers and power supplies, the amp is a few pounds lighter than my Edge G3, and slipped onto the shelf with ease. Setup was easy. The binding posts are fairly large and caused no problems when I attached the relatively stiff Acoustic Zen Hologram speaker cables.
Taking the broad strokes first, I found the soundstage to be restricted only by the limits of the recording. Older, more compressed recordings sounded just that way. The soundstage was well organized, though it was not as holographic as the Edge G3's. This is more of an accolade for the Edge than a criticism of the Logos. The duet of Van Morrison and Ray Charles on Genius Love Company sounded so convincingly "live" that I played and replayed the track many times. On the same disc, "Heaven Help Us All" has an in-your-face horn section at the opening, which let me hear that the Logos gets the brass right. I was impressed by the amplifier's ability to get the solid-state aspect of the sound—strong bass, lively dynamics and energy—complemented by the tube aspect—comforting midrange, smooth highs, and a relaxed signature.
I did feel that the tubes had a touch too much influence in the bass, but before I go any further I should make it clear that I am not describing a fundamental flaw. I heard what was, to me, an acceptable level of bass tubey-ness. Listening to Eryka Badu's latest rehashing of her once-popular beat, I found myself thinking that the bass was deep enough, and that the amp got the funk right. The crisp, tight striking of the bongo skins was most convincing. So what wasn't right? The Logos did bass better than any tube-related system that I have heard, but it still had that rounded sound.
In his new release, Magic Time (his best since 1995's Days Like This), Van Morrison reels you in and takes you on a treasured ride. On "Gypsy in My Soul," a pseudo-funky soul tune, I could hear, via the Pathos, that Morrison was closely mic'ed, and I liked it! At times, he danced back and forth between mumbling and singing, but that is Morrison, and I didn't mind. His endearing scat singing on this tune is accompanied by steel string picking, and the Pathos was able to keep peace between the two. Next up was the profound "Just Like Greta," which was profound to me because, in the extended period in which I have been recovering from a serious accident, I have found myself feeling much like the Morrison that sings this song. He was front and center, his voice full bodied, and even when he mumbled, his lyrics were not lost.
At the beginning of "They Sold Me Out," the guitar picking lacked a bit of realism—the tube front end of the Pathos mellowed it just a bit too much. However, every other element maintained a sense of realism, and the lone guitar was gathered up and comfortably tossed into the musical message. On the other hand, "Evening Train" opened with a very realistic bass and percussion. The cymbals and snare were most enjoyable, and when the sax jumped in to boogie, the Pathos delivered. I was toe-tapping to the end.
Over the course of several months, I played every genre of music I own on the Logos, and found no noticeable drawbacks. Strings were reproduced faithfully, and despite the occasional tonal inaccuracy, the amp rarely drew attention to itself. Voices, male and female, faired very well, and the Logos did not prefer one over the other. I can easily recommend this amplifier. It looks very attractive, and inspired much curiosity among my friends. My caveats are what apply to every integrated amp—if you must have more power, or must have separates, this amp will not work for you. However, if you desire a strong amplifier with just a hint of tubes, go for it. John Brazier