Beauty and the Beast


March 2006


“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.” – Henry James, Philosopher (1843-1916)

Orb-weaving spiders have been spinning their delicate, silken webs for more than 125 million years (according to the fossil record) and more than 40,000 different kinds of spiders co-habit this planet with us. It takes five different genetic types of silk to construct a single web, from “dragline silk” (used to anchor webs) to “captive” silk, which is stickier in order to capture prey and can be stretched up to three times its length before breaking. A spider’s web is the epitome of both delicacy and strength. Its delicate radii are spun by using natural air currents to move single strands of silk from one support to another, and yet the only manmade material which even comes close to being as strong as spider silk is steel. In fact, for an equivalent weight, the strongest spider silk has a tensile strength of five times greater than steel. (Tensile strength is the amount of longitudinal stress that a material can tolerate without breaking- i.e. pulling on a string until it breaks). Juxtaposed to its strength is the spider web’s complexity of detail and pattern. Webs are thought to produce intricate patterns that resemble patterns reflected by many flowers in UV light to attract insects searching for their favorite type of flower. 

Tracing these delicate patterns of spider silk, (with their inherent properties of great strength and agility), leads me to conclude that a spider’s web not only magnificently captures moths, sawflies and horntails, but also captures the sonic essence of what I experienced in my listening sessions with the Italian Beauty: the Pathos Logos Integrated amplifier. 

Beauty to Behold
Not to slight any members of the Arachnid family (to which spiders belong), but the Logos is one of the most beautiful pieces of audio equipment that I have ever laid eyes and hands on. In low light, its pair of Sovtek 6922 input tubes are positioned such that they cast a magical glow off of mirrored sides, inviting listeners in. Each tube is encased in chrome and set into a solid block of padouk (deep red wood) fashioned into a triangle, which also houses the 100-step digital volume control. Volume is monitored by slightly turning the control left or right and viewing a changing red LED display in its center. The slim remote control that comes with the Logos is nicely matched in padouk, although its tiny buttons and unmarked functions make it difficult to operate, especially under low light conditions (while you are enjoying the romantic glow from the Logos’ mirrored tubes). The Logos has two balanced XLR inputs and five unbalanced RCA inputs, with a pair of fixed level RCA tape outputs and a variable level preamp out for subwoofer use. I found the single pair of binding posts to be well constructed and spaced, allowing a good fit with a variety of spade connectors. The large heatsinks on both sides of this 60 lbs. beauty spell out the Pathos logo, a neat aesthetic detail resulting in quite sharp heatsink surfaces. The amp has circular vents on top, a nice touch that keeps it running warm, not hot, and adds to its beautiful architectural design. If you are looking for an amp of the highest cosmetic appeal, look no further than the Logos’ alluring design and hip presence. Give it plenty of ventilation and watch avid listeners get lured into its inviting and beautiful orb. 

The Logos combines those glowing pair of Sovtek 6922 double triode input tubes with three pairs of MOSFET output transistors per channel to deliver 110W into 8 ohms and 220W into 4 ohms, according to its specs. The Logos drove with aplomb several speaker combinations, including those with relatively low sensitivity, like my Harbeth Super HL5 (rated at 86 dB/1W/1m). I feel that the Harbeths really need some power behind them to sing, especially in the mids and lows, with their potential for very full, wide presence. No problem with the Logos driving them. Indeed, some of the best mid and low bass I have heard from the Harbeths was extracted by the transistor based output stage of the Logos in command. I also heard very little background noise or hiss, even with unbalanced connections and with my ears pushed up against speaker grills. According to Pathos, the Logos is fully balanced from the input to the output of the preamp (up to power amp stage) and this truly balanced design is claimed to achieve this very low noise floor and quiet background. 

What we have here then in the Logos integrated is the allure of Beauty and the Beast, combining for beautiful aesthetics, quiet power and versatility with build quality second to none. 

Delicate to Behold
Have you ever had the experience of walking in an early morning and spying the intricate dew-coated webs of spiders along lush undergrowth? Or, have you ever been surprised by the soft brush of your skin against a web in entering an old building or facade? Such visceral experiences gently shock as to how intricate Nature can be, in its delicate complexity yet agility to survive. I love this same image as it pertains to my listening sessions with the Logos, as this amp surprised with its finely unique delicacy in its delivery of treble energy combined with an agility for quick, dynamic bass when called upon by certain recordings. The unparalleled delicacy and filigree heard in its treble regions was really the most important sonic feature that I experienced with the Logos. Again, depending upon the associated speakers and cables, this could make for quite a dazzling display up top. There was absolutely no grain, no harshness to its feathery delivery in the highest treble regions, and there was treble detail galore. I found the Logos interestingly sensitive to cabling on this point. The best I felt it performed was with the Argent Audio Pursang S interconnects and speaker cables, with their very natural light treble presentation and slightly laid back signature. Also wonderful were Virtual Dynamics David Series and Master Series cables, which particularly took the mid bass to another dynamic and full level. I would predict that Audience Au24 cabling from my past experience would also be a good match for overall dynamics and capturing the sweetness of this amp up top, its best feature. 

For example, while we are on the subject of delicate treble, lets take the most delicate of Nature’s subjects, a Bee’s Wing, and refer to Richard Thompson’s miraculous tale of love and loss in his song of the same name from Mirror Blue [Capital 07777-81492] (“She was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing…”) This is one of my favorite of Thompson’s songs because it showcases his gifts equally as a songwriter and a musician. His poetic storytelling is interwoven with extraordinarily delicate instrumentation of English pipes, guitar, fiddle, flute and mandolin. With the Logos driving either the Silverline SR-11 monitor speakers or the Harbeth Super HL5’s, the high treble filigree provided by the sparkling mandolin or the intertwining high pipes was light and exciting, with a great sense of ease and grace up top. The unique tactile quality of the Logos’ delicate and feathery treble was further highlighted in listening to all genres of female vocal recordings. I urge the exploration of the great Portuguese/Brazilian connection in this regard, ranging from the ethereal tenderness of Maria Ana Bobone singing traditional Portuguese songs in the wonderfully recorded work, Senhora da Lapa, [MA Recordings MO46A] or the delicate Ana Caram spinning martini-cool Brazilian song on her Blue Bossa [Chesky JD219]. The Logos presented these recordings with great timbral accuracy up top, with a nice, slightly forward, presentation revealing very natural, highly fragile and light ease of vocal expression, into the stratosphere. There was no prominence to the treble, (like in some solid state amplifiers I have heard), but a natural delicacy and lightness that really shone on female vocalists in small band settings. Another test of treble quality was the Logos’ companionship with sax players, particularly alto sax, whose complex harmonic structure can be hard to capture. The great Ernie Watts puts on quite a fiery alto solo on “Jive Samba” from Gene Harris’ swinging and playful Alley Cats [Concord Jazz 4859-2]. When Watts stretches his solo into the highest registers on his instrument, the Logos succeeded in portraying this ascent in a graceful and seamless manner, with just enough fullness to avoid any metallic character or reedy, thin tone. Again, the capturing of delicacy up top, while maintaining accurate tonality and complex harmonic composure, was the highlight of the Logos’ presentation in my listening experience. 

The Logos continued its slightly forward and compelling perspective into the midrange on down, with midrange textures detailed without grain or gloss, and that added magic filigree in the treble region seamlessly integrated into its orb. The best example I can muster to highlight the qualities of the Logos in the midrange and bottom end is captured on a disc by one of my favorite young vocalists of the moment, Nnenna Freelon, on her 1998 disc, Maiden Voyage [Concord Records CCD-4794-2]. This disc is a challenging, creative mix of musical textures, highlighted by Freelon’s freedom of vocal expression and the great musicianship of her accompanists. On Freelon’s powerful take on Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” Avishai Cohen’s great, muscular bass work underlying Freelon’s sinuous vocals is perfectly rendered by the Logos driving the Harbeths – the best I have heard this speaker’s midrange and bass, with bass startling in its energy and punch. On his “Maiden Voyage,” Herbie Hancock accompanies Freelon on a wonderful, textured journey with the Logos in place. Piano notes and textures were clean and accurate, with ascending and descending lines portrayed in that magically light and delicate touch that the Logos seems to have in its special arsenal. The “Voyage” ends in a hush of cymbal brush and triangle bells, and the Logos made this ending shimmering and naturally quiet. Finally, my favorite cut on this disc, Freelon’s treatment of Sippie Wallace’s “Women Be Wise,” highlights her diverse vocals against a backdrop of gorgeous, breathy bass clarinet accompaniment by Bob Mintzer and Joe Beck’s warm guitar. The Logos was in its prime on this tune, offering meltingly good vocal texture and detail up top, and articulate, smooth bass clarinet with all clacking valves and breath intact. 

The Logos threw a very convincing soundstage on this number, with Freelon and her two accompanists hanging in the recording space (especially prominent in using the Silverline monitors as imaging champs) with each player in precise and natural positions. Soundstaging on large scale orchestral works, however, was only adequate with the Logos, not extraordinary. For example, on the expansive and melodious final movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 played by the London Symphony Orchestra [LSO Live SACD LSO0526], this wonderful live recording felt slightly less grand in scale and depth with the Logos driving either the Harbeths or the Ascendo loudspeakers. The Logos still brought out its best traits of great detail in string textures and individual woodwinds, but those great brass flourishes were a bit compressed in the soundstage, with layering not as deep or expansive as heard with other reference integrated amps, such as the solid state Mark Levinson 383. There was a more compressed, slightly forward presentation, making it difficult to hear to the back of the hall on this recording as I had clearly discerned with the ML 383, for example. Still, the Logos’ special character for providing amazingly natural and delicate treble and midrange textures made for great individual musical exploration. Violin tone was superb, with that special fragility and textured detail floating high above the Bohemia dance melodies that Dvorak so beautifully interweaves in this composition. 

Let’s sum up with some Rock & Roll, shall we? How about from the band which Bill Graham once proclaimed to be “The Greatest Band In The Land” – the Grateful Dead. Speaking of treble detail, beautiful texture and delicate filigreed notes, I would opinion that Jerry Garcia’s solos on Eyes of the World, played at Englishtown, New Jersey 9/3/77 (Dick’s Picks, Vol 15, GDCD 4035) is a classic lesson in this regard. The man could play, and his fragile melodies and spurts of sweet high end energy on guitar will never be duplicated. I loved this version of “Eyes” through the Logos: here were the sweet, delicate high plucks of Garcia, soaring to a crescendo that the Logos portrayed with a fluidity and naturalness rarely heard by this listener. Down below, we have the creative bass foundation of Phil Lesh with dynamic punch through the Logos. On the side, we have the crisp strums of Bob Weir’s rhythm guitar, painting a nice foil to Garcia’s explorations. The Logos gets it right and brings a special treble delicacy to the table of this musical feast. It is the most beautiful integrated I have laid eyes on and truly draws the listener into its orb, with its cosmetic beauty and its mid to upper delicacy and naturalness second to none. If you are looking for an integrated in this price range, I highly recommend an audition of this Italian Beauty in your own system to hear its delicate and versatile magic for yourself. 

But please, on your way out, watch out for that spider web above your head! 

Sources: Science Magazine, (3/01 pp. 2603-2606); Lansing State Journal, (7/16/97).

Nelson Brill


Pathos Logos Specifications
Power Output: 110W RMS @8 Ohms, 220W RMS @4 Ohms
Frequency Response: 2Hz-200KHz +-0,5dB
THD: <0.05% at 1 WRMS
S/N ratio:>90dB
Input Impedance: 100KOhm
Inputs: 2 balanced (XLR), 5 single-ended RCA; optional phono
Outputs: 1 Pair 5-Way Binding post/channel, 2 pair Fixed RCA tape outputs
One Variable Level Preamp Out
Dimensions: 9(w) x 5.75(h) x 19 (d) in.
Weight: 60 lb
Price: $4,795.00

Company Information
Pathos Acoustics SRL
Via Palu
Grumolo delle abbadesse
36040 Vicenza, Italy
Tel: 39-0444264732
Fax: 39-0444381275

USA Distributor:
Musical Surroundings
5662 Shattuck Ave.
Oakland, CA. 94609
Tel: 510-547-5006
Fax: 510-547-5009

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