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Pathos Aurium

  1. doraymon
    Silver silk, warm-up before use!
    Written by doraymon
    Published Jan 1, 2018
    Pros - Transparency, detail and overall tonal balance. Looks great and build quality is excellent.
    Cons - Needs warm-up


    I will skip alltogether the amp’s specs as they can be easily found in other reviews or on Pathos Acoustic’s site.
    I will jump straight to the “how does it sound” question, you can find details of the test rig below.

    After the 25 minutes warm-up time suggested by the manufacturer the sound of the Aurium was already quite good but not as good as I was hoping. Let’s say I did not find that “wow” effect I expected from an amp which is keeping a spot on Inner Fidelity’s Wall of Fame for years.
    After a couple of hours of listening however I was surprised by how the sound literally “blossomed” and became much more detailed and airy but still delivering a touch of sweetness, all of which resulted in a sound I have never heard before out of a headphone amp.
    Was it my brain getting used to the new sound or was it really the amp warming up?
    In any case probably thanks to a successful marriage with the very resolving and musical KTE Level 3 Spring DAC, the sound became so sweet and addictive to make me extend the listening session for almost 4 hours!
    The transparency of the amp is impressive for a tube (or better hybrid) amplifier and its capacity to deliver a realistic transient response is impressive.
    Extended highs, sparkling but never harsh.
    Sweet mids that sound not too recessed, not too forward. Just spot on (for my taste, of course)!
    In folk music like Amber Rubarth’s Hold On (AIFF 24/96) or Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me (AIFF 24/192), vocals wrapped me around as if I was there, walking in the recording studio.
    The bass as well benefitted from the long warm-up period together with the detail retrieval.
    Imagine a powerful and precise punch, like the one from a well tied boxing glove. Don’t misunderstand me, this is no amp for bass-heads as its tonality is very close to neutral.
    The sequence of bass synth notes in the first twenty seconds of Rone’s “Faster” (Mirapolis) sound deep and punchy but never muddy (like it’s sometimes the case with the Cavalli Liquid Carbon 2.0 for example).

    Tube rolling
    Replacing the stock Russian Electro-Harmonix 6922’s with two perfectly mathced 1962 NOS Telefunken E88CC opened up the sound of the Aurium even more, boosting detail and airiness without affecting too much the bass energy. The change felt like a boost of the already audible “warm-up blossoming effect” I described above.
    To my ears this was without any doubts a significant improvement to the already pleasing sound of the Aurium. If this is worth the $400+ upgrade well… diminishing returns etc… up to you guys.
    What I can say is that it would be difficult for me to go back now that I heard the difference.

    Power Supply
    Replacing the stock PS with my Sbooster BOTW P&P ECO did not bring a night and day improvement but it did add some depth to the soundstage.
    A very welcome change, so I will keep it this way and park the stock PS.

    Comparison against Violectric V281
    I took my Aurium with my Focal Clear and Hugo 2 DAC to a shop where I spent almost 2h comparing it A/B against the Violectric V281.
    The Hugo 2 was feeding the V281 (RCA) and from there two XLR cables fed the untouched signal to the Aurium. This chain connection allowed for a real time A/B just switching the headphone cable from one amp to the other.

    With my big surprise at the end of the session the clerk agreed with me that the V281 was no improvement over the Aurium, at list in the conditions of the test.
    While the V281 displayed a more extended, deep bass (at the verge of being too much for my personal taste), the Aurium sounded more detailed and and airy.
    Other than this minor differences both amps were very neutral sounding (no emphasis on any frequency), fantastically refined and handled even the "busiest" tracks effortlessly.
    For the records, for this particular comparison the source was my Onkyo DP-CMX1 player/phone connected to the Hugo 2 via USB.
    Another important note is that my Aurium was upgraded with two NOS 1962 Telefunken E88CC tubes and powered by my Sbooster power supply.
    Test tracks were various Tidal HiFi quality songs of various genres (Classical, Electronic, Pop, Rock) and some hi-res FLAC tracks (96/24, 192/24) mainly Folk.

    The sound of this Italian piece of handcrafted art is so unique that it has been difficult to describe.
    Like a tightrope walker in a circus the Aurium delivers a sound that is at the same time detailed, smooth and musical with an impressive balance.
    With a tonality a tad on the warm side of neutral this amp makes me think of a drape of smooth but tight silver silk. If this makes any sense…
    Highly recommended if you are shopping the $1k-1.5k category and you like a neutral to lightly warm tonality with great transparency.

    If you want to comment on the sound of this amp please post your impressions HERE.


    Source & Network:
    · Source: Mac Mini running Roon Server
    · AQVOX AQ-SWITCH-8 – audiophile network switch and LAN isolator

    Digital signal cleaning and transforming:
    · SOtM sMS-200ultra – Network Player
    · SOtM tX-USBultra – USB regenerator
    · SOtM sPS-500 - Power Supply for the two above
    o Power cord: Audioquest NRG-X3
    · Singxer KTE SU-1 DDR – USB to I2S converter
    o Power cord: Audioquest NRG-X3

    · Holo Audio KTE Spring R2R DAC (Level 3)
    o Power cord: Ice Age Audio Copper/Copper 3ft
    · Chord Electronics Hugo 2

    Headphone Amplifier:
    · Pathos Acoustics Aurium
    o Stock Electro-Harmonix 6922 and upgraded NOS Telefunken E88CC (1962) tubes.
    o Power Supply: stock PS and Sbooster BOTW P&P ECO

    · Focal Clear
    o Headphone Cable: stock SE ¼’’
    · MrSpeakers Ether C Flow
    o Headphone Cable: Norne Audio Draug3, 6ft SE ¼’’
    · HiFiMAN Edition X V.2
    o Headphone Cable: stock SE ¼’’

    Power Filters:
    · 2 x Opera Audio Consconance PW-1 – Audio Grade Mains Filters (one for the sources, one for the amp)
    o 2 x Merlin Tarantula Mk6 1m

    Interconnect Cables:
    · AQVOX High-End Cat. 7 – Network Cable 0.5m (from switch to network player)
    · QED Reference USB Cable 0.3m (from network Player to USB regenerator)
    · QED Reference USB Cable 1m (from regenerator to converter)
    · SUPRA HD5 HDMI 0.5m (from converter to DAC)
    · QED Reference XLR 40 Analogue 1m (from DAC to amp)
      HiFiRobot, Blase and bluenight like this.
    1. moriez
      Thanks for the review. Exquisite looking amp in black. Important note about the power spec: 3.6W into 16 ohms. NOT 3.6W into 32 ohms as wrongfully stated in the manual and many places around the net. Confirmed by Pathos.
      moriez, Aug 1, 2018
      doraymon likes this.
  2. mcece
    Pairing with w100
    Written by mcece
    Published Nov 5, 2015
    By rolling tubes, the human voice come out in a smooth mode which enocourage me to listen on.
    I do not listen classic and tube amplifier just fit my taste.

    My gear:
    pathos aurium
    mytek dac

    1. smial1966
      It puts 3.6 watts into 32ohms. How can it not be 'strong' enough to drive the LCD and HD800?!?  
      smial1966, Nov 6, 2015
      ZGLISZCZ and doraymon like this.
  3. 2rro
    Pathos Aurium: A headphone comparison
    Written by 2rro
    Published Feb 15, 2014
    Pros - Nice looking, Sounds great with matching headphones, 4x input (one balanced), 2x line out bypass (one balanced)
    Cons - Not enough power for hard-to-drive headphones, no balanced headphone output jack
    This is not a comparison between this amp and other amps, rather it will be a short summary on how this amp performs with a handful of high quality headphones. I own the Pathos Aurium amp and today I headed over to the local HIFI-shop with one goal in mind; Finding the best headphone for this amp. For the session, which lasted for about three hours, I mainly listened to the last John Grant album and Bjørk's Homogenic record.

    Couple of months ago I tested HifiMan 6, Audeze LCD-2 and Sennheiser HD800, but not on this amp. Hifiman was hard to compare with the others because they was so hard to drive (Had to adjust the volume a lot). But certainly Hifiman 6 and LCD-2 sounded more similar, compared to HD800, which are to analytical for my taste.
    So I had more or less decided to buy the LCD-2 when I went to the shop today. However, I ended up with something else. Following are my impressions from today:
    Audeze LCD-2: I think these pair extremely badly with this amp. The sound was not coming out at all, it nearly sounded like it was a wall between me and the phones. The worst pairing I heard.
    Sennheiser HD800: Really great headphones, but to analytical for me. I think they pair well with the amp, so if my music taste was classical, I would not hesitate to buy these.
    HiFiMAN HE-500: A little better than the LCD-2, but they are far from the best match. It seems like this amp is not strong enough for LCD-2 and HE-500, which are a little disappointing.
    Shure SRH1840, AKG K812: and Beyer Dynamic T1: Well what can I say, they sound really good, but they do nothing for me. I doubt that the Aurium is to blame, its probably just my personal taste. 
    Grado PS 1000: I liked it. A very good match. 
    FORSTEX TH 900: Very detailed and clear. The runner up today.
    Audeze LCD-X: The best match I think. They sound spectacular. A lot of detail, great punch without overdoing it. The only thing putting me off was that the ear pads was not big enough! My left ear touched the inside of the phone. It was a bit surprising since I have never experienced this before, and the ear pads seems massive.
    So to summarize: I bought the Audeze LCD-X. I felt they were in a class above the Sennheiser, Grado and FOSTEX phones. LCD-2 and HE-500 should be avoided on this amp!
    Thank you!
      HiFiRobot and mcece like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. treebug
      Drove my HD800 a treat. Only sold it to get the HDVA600
      treebug, Jul 26, 2016
      doraymon likes this.
    3. desik
      The power specification of this amp is scam. If RMS is 7 V, then power into 32 Ohm is 7 x 7 / 32 = 1.53 W. How did they get 3.6 W? This could be an explanation.
      desik, Jun 24, 2018
    4. capetownwatches
      Pathos have corrected their mistake. If 7Vrms then power into 16 ohm is 3.06W and ~1.5W into 32 ohm, as you rightly point out. Still more than sufficient to power my 70 ohm LCD2F without breaking a sweat. Similarly it drives HD600 as well as any amp I've owned.
      capetownwatches, Apr 21, 2019