Style and sound quality make uncomfortable bedfellows in the world of hi-fi. The best-looking kit usually doesn't sound great, while magical sonics invariably mean looks that only a mother (or the designer) could love.
Italian brand Pathos is one of the few that manages to combine style with real substance; the Digit CD player has the kind of understated elegance and visual individuality that most rivals would kill for. Placed alongside the company's Classic One III integrated amplifier – surely the natural partner – and you have a system with looks classy enough to have interior designers swooning.
Verve, bite and rhythmic integrity
And the Digit sounds great. This is a very sweet-sounding player. Like other Pathos equipment we've reviewed, this player never veers off into excess warmth, despite using valves. It's fast and detailed without ever becoming unnecessarily aggressive, even when provoked by rough sounding recordings like those from Arctic Monkeys.
Given a disc such John Williams's Jurassic Park OST or the hard-hitting Shock Value from Timbaland, this Pathos delivers a sound packed with verve, bite and a rhythmic integrity that's hard to better for the money.
Add the company's excellent build and finish and we can forgive small matters such as the crummy remote – most rivals are no better – and the lack of front-panel labelling. The Digit's narrow but deep proportions may make siting difficult on some of the smaller equipment supports, too.
This is a top-class machine. The established rivals should be worried.