Pathos Acoustics Ethos test and review

The real Ethos

We're seeing the big revival and breakthrough of style and great form in high-end audio in past few years. It seems, that some high-end audio companies are finally getting the basic facts straight and beginning to understand ... Aesthetics do matter! They always did matters, but few seems to put much effort into it except like one great example. Pathos Acoustics!

Even from their earlier products, they always designed their gear differently. With style and great instantly recognising design, that instantly evoke the "right" warm feelings. When you saw some of their products, you knew it at once, that they're coming from Italy.

I've often stated in my reviews, how there is a lot about saying "Italians do it better." Pathos always managed to find the right pace between contemporary design and classical aura. There is a very thin line between creating something to "funky" and something to classical. To create something timelessly and yet beautiful with a modern fresh touch, it's a matter of real ability to see and form things not only different for the sake of it, but enriched with expert industrial design. And Pathos do carve their objects with selective choices that reflects into the clever and timelessly fashionable aesthetic high-end audio products.

For example a ClassicOne now in the MKIII version offers quite few wit strikes, that makes this affordable integrated amplifier a true looker and something you can happily place on any shelf. Audiophile or non audiophile everyone seem to dig design, when it properly meeting the aural rules.


Pathos Acoustics Ethos present the joint nature of stylish contemporary looks and the great sound under one chassis. This was clearly the company plan from the beginning:

"The new Ethos responds to what has been, for years, lifestyle addicts' dilemma: contemporary design or high-end sound? Based on the acclaimed Pathos hybrid circuit with tube pre stage and MOSFET power stage, this integrated amplifier is capable of 100W per channel. But that's not all. The Ethos features the capability of importing 24-bit 192kHz digital signals from digital players and other digital devices, and converting them to music of uncompromised quality thanks to its built-in Pathos D/A converter."

As from the start Pathos Acoustics were bold and daring enough to stand out of the crowd with their innovative and remarkable design. Pathos Acoustics Ethos is non different from their series of grand looking devices. It goes perhaps even further then other components from the company product line with its unique contemporary looks. Form and factor of Ethos blends seamlessly with appearance that could be easily take its exhibition space in MOMA among other 19,20 and 21st century elusively designed objects of functional art.

It's no secret, that Pathos Acoustics products rate highly in the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) rating list. They go beyond typically edgy boxes and make more of an artistic pace in the surrounding environment. Pathos seems to not only strikes highest points with WAF, but GAF (General Acceptance Factor).


From early 80's and into early 90's with high-end audio companies like Krell and Gryphon audio integrated amplifiers came a long way. These days in in large percentage they bring great quality and more evidently onboard digital connections. What might look like a trend to casual observer, became an industry standard. Digital inputs can be either USB, Optical, Coaxial, Ethernet, Bluetooth or even in wireless form. Ethos spots two digital inputs. USB and Coaxial input. In this way it's easy to bring music from you CD player using as transport and a computer.

On the back side of Ethos there are plenty of inputs and outputs. Two balanced XLR line inputs, five unbalanced RCA line inputs, as mentioned above, one USB port, one SPDIF RCA input, one stereo pre-out, one mono sub-out. Digital audio operate at 24-bit 192KHz which become already an industry standard and its great to see Pathos following the actual norms.

In a sum, there is enough connectivity being present with Ethos, to make it the centre of your audiophile and musical operations.


Unlike Impol Remix, that operate in Class A and need more efficient speakers, Pathos Acoustics Ethos output power of 100W RMS @ 8 Ohm/200W RMS @ 4 Ohm. This brings enough drive to handle most of "normally" specced loudspeakers.

Any balanced setup need a proper partners to sound at it's best and it's the same with Ethos. While being all around integrated amplifier its always great to take time and connect it with the speakers. I would recommend the speakers starting from 87dB/1w1m to achieve best result. Do try speakers with Ethos as many modern loudspeakers manufacturers ranks their sensitivity a bit more then they actually operate at.

With Pathos ClassicOne one might step into the world of Pathos stand out design and high-performance audio, but Ethos brings everything to the higher level where you can easily forget about technology and quickly sank into the music.


Ethos represent the hybrid technology under the "hood" of this integrated amplifier. For many the marriage of tubes and solid state represent best way to easily come to a great sound, that is both natural and dynamic. Pathos took their R & D seriously and created very balanced machine for reproduction of the music without being hard pressed to purchase separate components. Going separate route brings new complexity and challenges to deal with and well designed integrated amplifier can offer very close performance of separates.

Pathos Acoustics Ethos preamplifier stage operates in pure A class. By implementing two ECC88 tubes Pathos Acoustics used their already highly acclaimed gain state. For the power sections Pathos Acoustics engineers choose Mosfets and created a true dual mono configuration. This ensure solid state power, clarity and speed with above rated output power of 100W RMS @ 8 Ohm/200W RMS @ 4 Ohm. Interestingly, Ethos can be also bridged and use as power amplifier.

Pathos managed to coherently join both technologies in making the well balanced and musical amplifier.


My listening notes might look scribbled, but they became extensive while putting the Ethos through different audio time capsules and music movements. My journery with Pathos Acosutics Ethos made quite few stops. From Georgian medieval chants to much modern voyage into the Black Dog Production repertoire. I'm still totally mesmerised by this electronic UK group first two albums, that expertly and almost mystically blended few completely different genres. The result is a "chemical" wedding of Detroit, Arabic and early IDM (intelligent drum music) musical DNA's.

Everything regarding critical musical listening reveals in the layers and Pathos Ethos brought that early 90's vibe with much greater impact, then I've expected.

Moving to Mahler 4th symphony under the expertly conducting of Ivan Fischer with Budapest Festival Orchestra and Miah Persson, this recording bring most intimate word of Mahler. It feels like  a lucid dreams projected in a way, that Akira Kurosawa movie with same title recreated the world of Van Gogh. Music is an art form, that connects us with the artist output on completely different plane, then other forms of an art. It have an universal appeal to the listeners regardless of their knowledge or education. While with classical music, like in poetry you'll add a certain depth with the knowing of background, urge and motivation for certain composition its not mandatory to enjoy it. One can immense into the universe of guided tones of classical compositions without artificial facade of loving and knowing.

Pathos Ethos did convey the emotions with like an vivid portray of events and musical energy transfer was both evolving and involving.


In the times where everybody try to copy each other in trying to present something new, Pathos Acoustics moves forward with their already established and recognised industrial design output. They do not need, to follow aesthetic trends. They found its grand way of design a long time ago We can see that clearly across the whole range of Pathos Acoustics product line, that they haven't lost the touch of both musicality and design.

Pathos Acoustics Ethos stand on its own. It represent the mature  integrated amplifier, that operates along established norms. As an sole object it cuts throughout the space with its own aura and mojo, instantly evoking the interest and even acts like an conversation starter.

This is a musical machine brought to you by true passionate people. We don't need to chase the high-end audio history trophies with Pathos Acoustics. They're established a brand awareness across whole globe and with their distinctive appeal they already made into the homes of many music lovers and audiophiles.

With a wide range of inputs and connectivity Pathos Acoustics Ethos represent an contemporary integrated amplifier that jointly implement solid state and tube technology in an musical potent package. For the full blown package it simply needs a dedicated source and speakers to give life to beloved music collection.

In the era where everything is chased by the spirit of constant change Pathos Acoustics Ethos represent a blend of traditional Italian design and great sounding electronics in a passionate musical box that can satisfy your needs of one place high-end hub for a really long time.

The feel, expert industrial design and actual execution gives a feeling of a sturdy machine capable of handling numerous hours of musical pleasure.

The review sample came with an integrated DAC on board, that can handle the incoming audio with 24bits/192khz and offer both SPDIF (that won't make you CD obsolete) and USB input connection.

Even a brief look at the back side offers a feeling of substantiality. I love the space they left between connectors, which makes connecting a bit larger cables easier and XLR inputs are the sign of taking things seriously.

All in all it was my great pleasure to spent more time with Pathos Acoustics Ethos. It reminded me about again how this company breaths with a true Italian spirit and DNA.

This is the first in the series of upcoming reviews, interviews and factory visit coming up in near future. This review will be followed by Pathos premium speakers Frontiers Prime in upcoming weeks. I would like to thank Enrico Fiore and Mr. Zanini for kind assistance with review samples.

Text: Matej Isak. 

Key spec and features 

Output power: 100W RMS @ 8 Ohm, 200W RMS @ 4 Ohm
Frequency response: 2Hz-200KHz +/- 0.5dBTHD:< 0.05%
S/N Ratio: > 90dB
Input impedance: 100K Ohm
Analog input: 2 balanced XLR line, 5 unbalanced RCA line
Digital input: 1 USB port, 1 SPDF 
Audio output: 1 stereo pre-out, 1 mono sub-out
D/A converter: 24-bit 192KHz
Size: 48x43x15
Weight: 20Kg

Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2014. ..:: None of the original written text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..