Vicenza? It Must be January!
By Jack Lawson 3rd September 2020
VICENZA, historic city of northern Italy, cradle of Renaissance thinking, architecture and crafts
The Music Room has been a Pathos dealer for 25 years but we had never visited the factory until – as it transpired – the last days before the virus engulfed Northern Italy. It may appear a tax-deductible pleasure trip but to understand products, designers, and feed back customers’ requirements there is no better way than a factory visit.
For example, I did not appreciate how much Pathos is cutting edge technology: I always regarded the product as a hand-crafted “cottage industry” but the factory clarified the next point: how much of these amplifiers are made in Italy and made under one roof. The reason is simple: distant factories cause delays and disappointments. A crafted product means supervision of all production stages. It is easier and cheaper just to order things in ….
But our visit to Vicenza taught us that the culture of Italian pride and passion in manufacturing is historical and geographical. This is the city of Palladio as well as pizzas. The whole ethos is so far away from corporate values but rather an appreciation of life, of creating things.
As always, The Music Room finds itself at home with a culture of extraordinary designers and a family-run business. Too many brands that we sold in our early years have been swallowed up by corporations who thrive on public trust in a brand which is no more than a badge. And the reviewers play the game….
Not that Pathos can complain about reviews. It must be the most highly acclaimed stable of products in the industry. No product from Pathos receives less than effusive praise, word wide. What is not to like? And yet, these guys are so modest….
No product is more desired by the public but there is that suspicion that maybe we are only wanting it for its looks. (Why does all high-end not look like this?) Of course my ears guide me and over the years my own system of choice has been Pathos, from the Logos, to the Inpol2, then an InpolRemix, then InTheGroov and InControl pre-amp and InPower mono amps that have just morphed into Mark 2, entirely different, larger and superior beasts. Pure Class A, 120 watts into 8 ohms, Double InPol, mono chassis, sound that is to die for and yet …. These ultimate products cost far less than competition. In fact, you will absurdly and by error pay the same for one of today’s great integrated amplifiers. Big Mistake!!
InPol is the unique selling point of Pathos, but every component and technique must be transparent and neutral. Essentially, triode tube (SET) is by far the most authentic sound; leaving aside the cheap copy products. But the problems of tube amps are well known. Signal triodes are cheap and run at low levels are actually more long-lived even than solid state! So, hybrid amplifiers seemed to be the answer until it transpired that signal transfer to the power stage degrades the signal (tubes and transistors are different devices) and most solid state will destroy the signal purity. InPol was the breakthrough of the three Italian audiophiles of whom one, Gaetano Zanini now owns and runs the company with his two sons. In recent years they were freed to be entirely creative by Anna, the patient, omniscient, helpful Business Manageress. Without her help and logistics, what would we do?
What is so impressive is the authentic Italian pride and passion in form and function and in actually crafting units, one at a time, to perfection.
Time after time I was astounded by attention to details. Just look at the so-called lids!! No folded panels that don’t screw back onto the chassis but precision, thick, solid and non-resonant assemblies. And look at the grilles with asymmetric ventilation holes which avoid tiring the eye with regularity! (I’ll bet you did not notice that!!)
Pathos make three ranges of products (see full list) and many remain favourites for decades: the TT Anniversary (formerly Twin Towers) is a gem that competes with the massively expensive purist Japanese amplifiers at many times the cost. But which amplifier to choose is not for this article.
The “entry point” products – Aurium pre-amp / headphone amplifier, The Converto (Pre-amp/ DAC/ Headphone amp), The New InTheGroove (MM/MC) and the AmpliD Class D power amplifier are so affordable that I seriously doubted they could be made in Italy. Happily, I was wrong. Everything here is ultimate in flexibility, design, precision, and quality. They are easily best in class.
The next strata is a range of Pathos Acoustics “non-InPol amplifiers” from under £3,000 for the new ClassicReMix, or the wonderful Classic One, now in Mark 3 form, and the jewel in any crown, the Logos – now upgraded to Mark 2.
Crowning all is Pathos InPol amplifiers, integrated designs to the two pre-amp and mono configurations. You need to realize that these are squarely in the territory of the absurdly expensive creations from Japan and USA, and especially in Europe are hardly cheap, but much cheaper than the competition.
Bridging the genres of multi-chassis to integrated is the world’s most desirable and greatest integrated amplifier. I am sure of my grounds. The Heritage is not in doubt. So named to commemorate a colleague who contributed so much but has passed on. It is surely the most desirable amplifier in the world, but hey …. What about the Inpol REMix mark 2? What bargain. What a gem.
I left the factory and I am not sure if there is any reason you should not choose, as I have done for years, to have your music powered by Pathos.
Unorthodox. Unrivalled. Unforgettable. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
THE PATHOS FACTORY
THE PATHOS TEAM, stranding left to right Damiano, Anna and the Zaninis
LUCA with Music Room colleague, Simon Pope.
A LID. Not an ordinary lid. A lid crafted by Pathos. Note the irregular ventilator perforations.
A VOLUME CONTROL. Even the best ganged pots degrade the signal. Here is the complex stepped resistor taken from drawings to the final product.
VOLUME CONTROL FOR HERITAGE. In detail.