Founded in 1994 in Vicence, Italy by three audio aficionados – namely, Gianni Borinato, Paolo Andriolo and Gaetano Zanini – Pathos is a brand of high-end hi-fi electronics whose groundbreaking sound is as unequaled as their unique design. Implementing the patented InPol technology, Pathos products set themselves a head above their competitors by offering an extremely natural and realistic sound. The trio’s approach ignores conventions and can be summed up very simply: deliver music exactly how it was recorded, in the most authentic way possible. Faithful to this philosophy from its beginnings, the brand brings together exceptional design, high-quality materials and impeccable sound to delight both the eyes and ears. We asked Gaetano Zanini, director of Pathos Acoustics, a few questions.
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and your experience before joining Pathos?
My passion for music and electronic devices emerged when I was a boy. I used to manage a hi-fi shop, and during this time I improved and widened my knowledge by comparing many hi-fi products from around the world while building my experience through analytical listening sessions.
Can you walk us through a bit of Pathos’ history?
Among my shop’s technical staff, there was engineer Gianni Borinato, who was a technical assistant and also worked as a designer in the industrial electronic field. Gianni loved music, too. One day, while he was developing one of his projects, he understood that what he was making could drive a woofer if he used an audio signal as a source. And so InPol was born.
Beyond designing its electronics, we had to create a chassis to house them. Paolo Andriolo is a music lover and designer who often came to the shop, and he offered to sketch the chassis himself. In so doing, we gave birth to the very first unit, which we called Twin Towers (this was its name before September 11th). From the union of Gaetano, Gianni and Paolo, PATHOS was born.
Does the unique design of Pathos’ products have more to do with their technical or esthetic qualities?
The Twin Towers model was an immediate success, and this encouraged us to go forward and produce a series of electronics implementing innovative InPol circuitry as well as offer hybrid models. Yet, every model had to have its specific characteristics, the sound had to be of the highest quality while surpassing that offered by its competitors, the build quality had to be flawless, and its design unique and original.
Has the widespread popularity of dematerialized music (audio streaming, high-definition files) changed how you go about designing traditional products such as amplifiers?
In response to the widespread use of dematerialized music, PATHOS started to make specially designed converters. The first step was to produce a board that could be installed in some units; this first board then generated an evolution that brought about the development of a dedicated control app for portable devices. A second board features a more efficient converter which can read any kind of digital source, including PCM and DSD.
Can you tell us the story behind InPol amplification technology and explain how it works?
The InPol project was inspired by the desire to eliminate all types of “output-input” feedback. The general idea is that although a carefully developed feedback loop can offer significant benefits, it is still something “artificial” which alters the sound, making it less natural and limiting its dynamic range. Foregoing the use of a feedback loop implies – on the other hand – a higher rate of conversion and a slightly inferior damping factor in order to conserve all the fullness and realism of the original signal.
InPol was born from this design theory: developing a power stage – without any feedback – featuring a limited distortion and a satisfactory damping factor. For this purpose, Pathos has developed a single, solid-state component in follower configuration, with high current gain (gain=1). Polarity is in pure Class A to avoid crossover distortions, typical of Class AB stages.
Only solid-state NPNs are used, which are totally different from PNPs. InPol uses a big inducer for its energy supply, driven by a transistor as a “controlled current generator.” In so doing, the theoretical efficiency is doubled – from 25% to 50% – and low impedance is achieved, which is necessary to get a correct damping factor.
InPol features an amplification factor of 1 when current is provided, so it “copies” the signal received from the input, without changing its harmonic content and natural qualities. The unique task of InPol is therefore to supply the current necessary to drive the loudspeakers perfectly.
What are the main advantages it has to offer?
InPol is not an amplifier, as it simply copies the amplified signal from the tube and enriches it with the necessary current to drive a speaker. In so doing it does not change the sound, and the amplification is carried out only by the tube. The result is a clear and transparent sound, wide, detailed, soft and natural; but above all it makes listening easy and not tiring.