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Pathos Acoustics Twin Towers
14 Reviews
rating  4.57 of 5
MSRP  4950.00
Description: 30 Watt Integrated Amplifier - Hybrid Tube/MOSFET Design Using INPOL Concept


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Reviews 1 - 5 (14 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Windman a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: October 6, 2013

Bottom Line:   
Wherever you run into a "best integrated amplifier ever heard/owned" thread on an audio forum you will almost always find the Pathos TT on the list, often referenced several times. The TT was a Stereophile Class A rated component and well known reviewer Sam Tellig described the TT as having "superb resolution and stunning immediacy" - Tellig was suitably impressed with the TT to purchase one and use it as his personal reference integrated for many years before ultimately concluding the TT lacked the versatility needed in an amplifier used for reviewing- with the right speakers Tellig noted "The TT is magic" pay particular attention to this final statement by Tellig as it is key if you intend on purchasing a TT.

Yes the Pathos is a hybrid pure class "A" integrated amplifier but It's important to recognize that Pathos uses a patented proprietary circuit called Inpol. I will save the debate of the technical merits and limitations of the Inpol approach and instead focus on the outcome. Take note that Pathos only rates the TT at 2 x 35 watts into 8 ohms (keep in mind these are pure class "A" watts) but there is not rating for power into 4 ohms as most integrated amplifiers in the price range can deliver. There is a reason for that. The Pathos Inpol circuit doesn't like to drive speakers with low impedance curves. This is important to recognize as many speakers might be rated at 8ohms however the same speakers can have an impedance curve that drops below 4 ohms thus making them unsuitable for the TT. As a result it is critical to be aware of a speakers nominal impedance load as this figure is more important to the TT then simply a speaker's efficiency rating. I can't state this last point enough - you absolutely cannot make magic with a TT without well matched (read easily driven) speakers- the upside is that generally most speakers considered "tube friendly" are also typically Pathos TT friendly. Kef, Tannoy, Devore, Focal, Reference 3A, and Audio Note are just a few examples to look for "tube friendly" speakers. From my experience the TT can work with speakers that have an impedance curve dropping down to 6ohms and 89 db deficiency - anything more demanding then that to drive you are taking your chances.

A couple of other points to "make magic" with the TT - The Inpol circuit front loads the tubes directly into the input stage in a zero negative feedback design - in other words your choice of tubes (i.e. tube rolling) is your tone control - choose your tubes wisely and don't be afraid to experiment. In fact experimentation is required to achieve optimum results. Point #2 is that the Inpol design uses a huge amount of capacitance that actually serves two purposes - aside from the conventional "energy" storage the caps also serve as filters to absorb DC - the problem with using a pair of large caps per channel (as opposed to a bank of smaller caps's) is that large cap's take much longer to "warm up" - if your looking for short term listening of 30-60 minutes the TT will not be the right choice for you. Warm up time is 30 minutes minimum - the upside is that after an hour the TT continues to sound sweeter and sweeter the longer you keep playing it - enticing you to keep listening.

Final points. The TT is all wired internally with silver cabling - I have found the best results are with using silver interconnects and speaker wires - these are not inexpensive. With the right speakers, tubes and cabling with sufficient warm up time the Pathos TT is indeed a magical experience that begs to be heard to be understood and appreciated. Done right the Pathos TT can run with any system at any price. The downside to a TT is your flexibility is limited in many ways. You have less speaker and cabling choices - tube selection is critical as is having enough time to properly allow it to warm up and enjoy it - as a result it's not an integrated for everyone and it is easy to understand why some don't enjoy it and give up on it. I have spent two years "mastering" and system building around the TT to extract it's true potential. While I now enjoy amazing system synergy that creates magical music experiences with the benefit of hindsight I am not certain I would go down this road again.

Bottom line? Buying a TT is more then the purchase of beautiful Italian industrial design - it is a commitment that is only the first step in an audio journey that may or may not be more then what you had in mind. the upside -if you spend a pot of gold you will find a rainbow on the other side. Good luck.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2010



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by panagiotis a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: January 12, 2012

Bottom Line:   
Pathos acoustics TT anniversary amplifier is one of the best amplifiers made the recent years. From day one coming out of the box gave me jaw dropping performance with its transperacy ,hi definition on every note and the excellent deep bass.I have a mcintosh system , with 2 huge amps 1200 watts each ,tube preamp 2200,and a tunner R85, speakers the verry fine infinity IRS gamma, close to the $ 30,000.00 retail all together. Pathos did equal performance or perhaps a better job from the mac's ,using infinity kappa 7.1. Soon i am buying focal electra 1028 BE to replace the kappa's, the only thing is you have to be carefull with the speakers to be easy load driven and the impentance no less than 4 or 5 ohms. i am srongly reccommend to anyone this Pathos amp from Italy.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2010



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by jet a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: January 30, 2011

Bottom Line:   
The Pathos TT (Twin Towers) stands right up there with any of the wonderful amps I have heard over the past two years. It pairs very nicely with Devore Nines which I spent hours listening to before making my speaker choice. In my home it is driving Audio Note AN-e LX HE high effidiency speakers. I arranged a side by side comparison of the Pathos TT with an Audio Note M6 Preamp and the Audio Note P4 Balanced mono blocks. That is over $30,000 worth of AN gear. It stood its ground with sweet extended highs and colorful extended transparent lows. It fell short in the mid range but not by much. The paralllel 300b's in the P4 had an amazing palpable mid. But we're talking $$$$$. and I paid $2000 used for the Pathos.

In my home the sonic presentation is most satifying. It is not the fastest amp. Shindo gear has a better pacing, but I like the sonic presentation as well as if not a bit better than Shindo. Love this integrated amp! Simple, no expesive interconnects to deal with.

Amp has been 100% dependable.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2004



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:2
Submitted by magnet987 a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: January 11, 2011

Bottom Line:   
My acquaintance with Pathos TT amplifier started while visiting a well-respected hi-fi dealer shop some time ago. I was struck by its exterior beauty and as I came to find out later, its beauty was not at all skin deep.

I spent some three years with this amplifier and I would like to share my time and experiences with those who consider a purchase.

This is a fairly large and VERY HEAVY amplifier. It is delivered in a reinforced wooden box and maneuvering it into position takes more than one person. So do not attempt to move it single handedly.

Unfortunately there is not anything remotely resembling a handle on the unit's enclosure to facilitate moving so you need to use creativity on how to take the unit out and hopefully position it into place.

Once sucseeded, you will be visually rewarded by what might possibly be one of the most beautifully sculpted pieces of audio engineering available. The tasteful combination of colors and polished metalworks create a highly unusual but stunningly beautiful enclosure. However, upon closer inspection one notices small flaws and misalignments that make the unit more resemble a high quality diy effort than that of a high end commercial offering.

If not properly informed, one might think of Pathos TT as an all tube design. The enclosure certainly borrows the open architecture one is accustomed to from tube designs, and the three large transformers on the back remind us of the output transformers of the past. However, Pathos TT is a Hybrid: using tubes for the preamplifier stage, and class A solid state stage for its output stage.

The class A operation of the output stage makes this amplifier hot -- no let me rephrase that -- it makes this amp so freakishly HHHHOT that I was always concerned about its well being. The heat sinks and the three transformers in particular got unpleasently hot.

Since I owned some class A amplifiers before Pathos TT, and was very familiar with their heat producing mechanism, I could not help but wonder if the Pathos TT electronics was under-built.

Sonically, this was an interesting unit. Right out of the box and cold, the amp sounded ok: fairly dimensional, good midrange and somewhat limited or rolled-off highs. However as the amplifier got hot and hot and hotter (after 7 - 8 hours), its sonic character changed very very dramatically. The midrange aquired a plasticity and sweetness that was second to none. The bass response became extremely articulated and somewhat forward (noticable). The highs got sweeter and much more natural, but still remained slightly rolled off.

Pathos TT shared some of the sonic charactereristics of the well executed SETs on the marked, but coupled with an unfamiliar extension at the frequency extremes that was pleasently surprising.

There are some practical issues to consider however:

The gain of the amplfiier is way too high, making it very difficult to properly operate the volume control past 8 o'clock with reference high voltage sources like Wadia's and excellent phono's like the Steelhead.

The noise is too high. On quiet passages the tube-noise & flicker artifacts are clearly audible, making it less suitable for high sensitivity speakers.

The output stage of Pathos TT is unusually and sadly -- capacitively coupled !!! I dont know how far backwards in time one must travel to encounter capacitively-coupled solid state output stages!! For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology -- it means that there is a large capacitor, necessarily electrolytic, in the worst place of all: in series with the speaker !!!

A very unfortunate decision by the designer and a big thumbs down for Pathos. However all of the other offerings from Pathos Acoustics feature direct coupled solid-state output stages so thankfully the designers have taken the critisism to heart.

Because of this capacitive coupling, there is a loud POP every time the amp is turned on or off, launching the woofers into your face!!

It is a Single Ended design, meaning the output stage is unable to sink current beyond its static bias amplitude, limiting the amplifier's driving capabilities to speakers with a min of 6 ohms nominal impedance.

Regardless, I purchased the unit and started my journey into the hi fi universe, and it looked very promising through the eyes of the Pathos TT, however this is when problems started:

Unfortunately the unit broke after 4 months, and shipping it back and forth to the dealer was a pain in the you know what. My first unit was sent back for repairs 4 times and then replaced by a brand new unit.

The new unit did not sound at all like the first one. It sounded very congested and shut in. The low frequencies were almost too forward, inflated and boomy. The highs were rough and very grainy.
Once I inspected the unit closer, I noticed the use of different tubes and transistors. This was quite surprising, and I could not achieve the sound quality of the first unit regardless of what I did or how many hours I played on it.

The second unit broke after 8 months and was sent back for repair 2 times. After the third time it was once again replaced by a brand new unit.

Unfortunately the third unit sounded even worse than the second. It was equipped with the SOVTEK tubes famous for their lack of detail. I started tube rolling with no positive outcome.

Although the last unit did not break, I was seriously disappointed by the sound-quality variation of the different units produced, and the fact that I was unable to obtain what I once heared through the very first unit in my possession.

My journey with Pathos TT ended a while ago as I grew tired of all the trouble of having an unreliable product.

Before I returned the last unit I made sure to compare it with other similarly priced amps.

I was completely blown away by a very underestimated little class A amp called the Pass Aleph 3. It possessed all the naturalness and midrange liquidity of the pathos TT combined with a sweet and very extended top end, along with a rock solid bottom end. On a side by side comparison with the last Pathos TT unit, the Aleph scored on every note.

My choice was obvious...

Good luck.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by tmasr a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: January 30, 2008

Bottom Line:   
This amplifier is very smooth and dynamic. The small details that I did not hear before are now there but in coherent and natural way. Imaging, soundstage, and depth of field are perfect. On all kind of music, jazz, classic, rock the detail of bass and highs are extraordinary, mids are to die for. This is world class amplifier one of the best, period.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2006




Reviews 1 - 5 (14 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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