This product – I hesitate to use the word amplifier because it’s a lot more than that – may have a name that reads like a compilation of dance floor anthems, but that name is indicative of its evolutionary nature. Pathos has been making Inpol amplifiers for a while now and they form at least half of the Italian company’s range. ‘Inpol’ relates to a hybrid power amplifier design with low power ECC88 triodes for the first stage and a single transistor device per channel (operated in Class A) for the output. This gives you reasonable amounts of Class A power without the need to dissipate the sort of heat produced by a pure tube design, or the additional expense of output transformers. The Inpol Remix Mk II is specified to deliver 25 Watts into an eight Ohm load – not terribly inspiring, but Class A always sounds more powerful than its specifications would suggest, thanks to producing mostly even order harmonic distortion nature under stress. In contrast, when Class A/B amps run out of steam, they tend to deliver odd-order harmonic distortion, which sounds hard and ugly. This Pathos is also a fully balanced design, with a double Inpol configured output stage as a result.
The Inpol Remix Mk II can be supplied as just an amplifier, however the optional HiDac EVO part not only adds digital inputs of all the usual varieties, but turns this distinctive looking design into a streamer as well. You get a totally cool looking, but somewhat abstruse, remote handset with the Pathos and that’s useful up to a point, but the control app gives you a whole lot more with only one caveat: the volume level at power up is 70 – 80 steps lower than can actually be heard with average sensitivity speakers. I had hoped that the app might provide some means of accelerating the process, but no. Luckily it remembers the level of inputs so long as power remains connected, and I guess that owners of high sensitivity speakers must enjoy having a half-decibel step volume control down to much lower levels than usual. That knob, inset into the front panel, doesn’t help either: it is actually a switch and it doesn’t rotate. Instead, it relates to the Burr Brown regulator chip that controls output level by adjusting bias rather than attenuating the signal as is usually the case; and this probably has a lot to do with the sound quality of the amp.
The Pathos app does however give you access to the streaming side of things, which is very useful, making this Pathos the equivalent in feature terms of a Naim Uniti in many respects. Except that Naim devices don’t have balanced in- and pre outputs, nor USB for that matter. The Inpol Remix MkII supports almost everything except Bluetooth. The streamer side of the equation is not an entirely standard implementation though. When I tried to access the music on my Melco N1A server, the Inpol Remix MkII could see the device but wasn’t able to scan its contents. Pathos explained that it’s not DLNA compliant as is usually the case but uses SAMBA, a Windows file sharing protocol. So if you use a Windows PC to populate your NAS the streamer should function. Listening was done with USB direct from the Melco and analogue from DACs connected to the same source.