The awesome TT RR (Twin, Tower. Remote. Resistive). it has its own history and future as well. Its elder sibling called the TT, was the first born of the Pathos manufacturing unit. The TT RR is the second generation of the line and already has a successor named the TT Anniversary.
OUT OF THE BOX
When it comes to tube amplifiers. it's a convention for them to be very elegant with shiny finishes. But the TT RR, along with being quite elegant and beautiful (you just can't call it photogenic as its shiny exterior is bound to capture some of its surroundings). Although it resembles a mammoth industrial plant with tubes like huge boiler wells and enormous heat sinks, after looking at it, you are sure to get an adrenaline rush. Yes and with that comes a statutory warning don't try to lift this one alone as it is a back-breaking task. Well, moving on, the Italians are known for their design skills but we wondered how they would fare in the technology domain with respect to the TT RR.
The most important factor that makes the Pathos amplifiers different from all the others available, is the INPOL, an exclusive worldwide-patented pure Class A feedback-free circuitry, which has been claimed by Pathos to represent the most important innovation in musical amplification of recent times. Moreover. the TT RR incorporates high quality selected components and the connections inside are done using the pure silver Pathos wirings. It comes with gold plated RCA jacks for the phono, aux, CO and tape inputs. A convention about tube amplifiers is that they are made for those who love the warmth of the tube that translates into depth and sweetness in sound.
What makes the TT RR different from the other TT amplifiers is the remote volume control. The first TT amplifier had a purely resistive (electronic) 24-step manual volume control that you could regulate via a knob. Thus, to manually regulate the volume, you have 24 steps to control the volume from the lowest decibel to its highest. The TT RR on the other hand offers the advantage of a remote to regulate the volume by steps of ldB from minimum to maximum, which also explains its title, TT RR. The remote couldn't get any simpler than this; just one piece of wood featuring four buttons. Label-less button. But fret not as you can figure them out in no time.
We connected the TT RR to BCO-l, a Bryston CO player and the Monitor Audio PL300 from the Platinum series using StraightWire cables and a Richard Grey Power Conditioner. Some of the key qualities one would seek in any system are mid-range smoothness, cohesive harmonics, good timing and preferably, errors of omission rather than commission. This means that the system that is not able to reproduce a certain range of frequencies is acceptable, as long as it doesn't add its own colour to the music. All set to enjoy the tube experience, we rounded up our product breaking in techniques and played the AV MAX 2003 award winner 'Jhini' by Indian Ocean.
Its crystal clean recording of numerous acoustic instruments like the guitar, drums, tabla, etc, makes for a perfect selection to be heard on the tubes. The album offers an interesting mix of jazz and Indian classical music with excellent dynamics in terms of sounds and progression of the songs. On the first song "Bhor", the transients alongwith the bass, were sharp and clean while retaining enough mid-range warmth for the vocal passages ie none of the sound waves in the frequency range over shadowed each other. Going from top to bottom, the uppermost frequencies, while smooth and clean, did not quite have the last word in extension. The soundstage spread across the room, with amazing depth in the title track "Jhini".
Throughout the CD there was an airy quality and openness in the vocals the TT RR reproduced this faithfully, with a natural decay as Asheem's voice alongwith the chorus. Astonished with the excellent sound we experienced, we were tempted to play another album and loaded the music CD, 'Oil Se'. It is one of those recordings that simply must be played aloud as it puts any amp to the test. The first order of business here was bass; we were concerned that a relatively low-powered tube amp wouldn't be up to the task. But the TT RR laughed off our concerns as it proceeded to shake the room with everything our speakers could shell out popular film tracks from 'Aye Ajnabi' to the very popular track, "Chaiyya Chaiyya".
This time, the soundstage was a bit in the front. but the depth was simply breathtaking. The imaging had good depth, though voices covered a bit more space rather than being closer to point sources.
While reviewing the TT RR, we played around 7 to 8 albums to scope this battle warrior; we could right away distinguish the difference between the conventional solid state circuit and the Pathos tubes. It provided the bloom, fuller sound and a body reminiscent of tube equipment. You get a combination of detail, soundstage, mid-range warmth, bass response, definition and build quality in a tube amplifier; it's surely worth shelling out the price it comes for.