October 14, 2009

Your Feel Good CD Player? Pathos Endorphin CD Player.

Is it an alien space craft? No, it's the Pathos Endorphin CD player.

Nelson of Centre Circle Audio is one smart cookie. He told me that the Pathos Endorphin is an alternative choice for people whom rejects the Esoteric SACD/CD players, which Centre Circle Audio also sells. Many audiophiles are prejudiced in opinion that the Esoterics are too sterile and bland sounding, based on what the previously older models they may have heard(I bet they didn't experienced the latest X-03 model just yet!).

The truly hand crafted wooden shipping box, I hope no more trees than necessary were chopped making this box.

What's the meaning of the word endorphin? No, it has nothing to do with dolphins!(I thought about that too!) I checked the www to find that it's a compound secretion by our brains to either reduce pain or for the inducement of feeling good. Sounds like Pathos intends for it's flagship CD player to be the panacea for "audiophilia nervosa" or have intentions to make you feel good about your latest extravagant purchase?

Nice fine Italian carpentry!

Let's find out. When I first saw the hand chiseled solid wooden box for packaging, I was in shock! The box's top cover was screwed shut by no less than 12 long screws all round. I am glad I had a motorised screw driver around for the handy job. The second shock greets you when you actually see the Pathos Endorphin in the metal. Did I brought home a miniature alien space craft? Because it sure looked like one! Only on closer inspection did reveal clues like the 6H30 out put tubes and a transport cover the opens to allow access to the Philips CD Pro2 unit and a manually adjustable display panel, that it's actually a humble CD player. One smart feature that I like about this top loader CD player is that there's no puck to muck around with or get lost! The transport puck is cleverly built in to the top cover of the transport. All you have to do is slot the CD in to the center spindle, close the cover and the transport self detects the CD's TOC, once that's done, the Pathos is ready to play. Probably just easier to check the panel for it's RCA, XLR out puts and an IEC style power cord input.

I used the XLR out puts, note the out put's dual mono lay out.

Build quality is exotic to say the least, and 2 remote is provided, a nice shinny all metal unit(it's called a coffee table remote!) and another one which is the common Philips look alike plastic affair(quite possibly meant for everyday practical use). One thing I have to complain about is that all those little buttons on the top fascia is unlabelled, as so are those buttons on the coffee table remote! How do you know which button does what?(you have to read the manual, smarty pants!) Only the practical Philips look alike plastic remote have labelled buttons, which is why I used it all the time the Endorphin spent in my system.

I am very sure you are now asking, never mind all those, but how does it sound?

I had the impression that the high frequencies don't extend as high as the Esoteric X-03, but yet I still managed to get an airy feel when listening to music. The mids are exceptionally strong point for the Pathos Endorphin, it has a very natural sounding warmth that fills vocals with full bodied density, and lends classical instruments such as wood winds, bassoon, flute, viola, violin and cello it's most natural timbre of woodiness. Double bass also benefited from the mids timbre treatment, yet always sound articulate making it easy to follow note to note precisely. Electric guitar bass lines are gutsy, well filled in and well defined. The kick drum's energy is never short changed either.

Philips CD Pro2 transport and the 6H30 out put tubes.

This is a highly refined CD player, it's forte is reproducing classical music with all the hall ambiance and spatial cues preserved. Staging and imaging properties are first class with believe able stage depth and layering recreation(even in my small listening room). I had no trouble feeling like I am in a concert at Dewan Philharmonik Petronas.

I am a little disappointed that the Pathos Endorphin doesn't dig out as much low level musical detail information as the Esoteric X-03. It also blunts micro dynamics a little some what but seems to do macro dynamics and transients pretty well. But I think the Pathos is not about measuring and ticking all the right audiophile check boxes either, no doubt it does all those reasonably well too.

The manually adjustable display panel, it would've been way cool to motorized this and make it remote adjustable too!

The Pathos Endorphin is more about engaging and connecting to the music reproduced. A visitor commented that Japanese female singer Noon sounds so much more seductive thru the Pathos than he is used to, making him wanna "air" caress her romantically. Just in case you were wondering, we were playing Noon's "Smilin" CD, track 4, 500 Miles. Macho male voices, like Toscho's Back By Popular Demand CD, makes me feel like he's gone thru a lifetime of coarse social grinding behaviour pattern. The Pathos has a way of bringing out the musical uniqueness of each CD played thru it. I would surely classify the Pathos Endorphin as a beautiful, colourful sounding CD player, rather than an accurate one(like the Esoteric X-03).

This says it all! The Pathos prestige.

Which brings me to the question, with the Pathos Endorphin and the Esoteric X-03 both retailing at the same RM$32k price, which would be your choice?

I think one's choice between the two would eventually boil down to the matters of system synergy, personal preference and musical diet.

You now see why Nelson is such a smart cookie? With the Pathos Endorphin and the Esoteric X-03 in his stables, looks like he's got both sides covered now!

Pathos is sold by Centre Circle Audio, contact Nelson, tel: 03-77282686


mikelau.2 said...

Hi Big E,

That looks like a Furutech p c attached to the cdp ! Which series ?


Big E said...


It just an AOR Ref 3 terminated with opyional Furutech plugs. Nothing new, nothing fancy.