Exposure 3010S2

 

Exposure 3010S2Exposure made its name for powerful and punchy sounding high end transistor amplifiers back in the nineteen eighties, under the stewardship of gifted designer John Farlowe. He subsequently sold his company and emigrated to Thailand, whereupon the brand was reborn. Tony Brady, a man who had made his name penning the superb mid-price ONIX integrateds back in the nineteen eighties, took over and the Exposure 3010 series was born…

Based in Portslade, just down the road from Brighton on England’s sunny south coast, Exposure has now thoroughly reinvented itself as a leader in affordable audiophile electronics – of which the 3010S2 is a shining example. Launched in 2009, the Series 2 brought a few tweaks to an already fine premium integrated. It has six line inputs, MM/MC phono module option, and a separate preamplifier output for biamping via an Exposure power amplifier. By the way, the latest 2015 3010S2D added some small circuitry tweaks and the option of a DAC – which is now de rigeur in today’s hi-fi world, it seems.

Upon its launch, the company claimed 110W RMS per channel (into 8 ohms) for the 3010S2, and there is little evidence that this is an idle boast. It has lots of power and drives even tricky loads with an impressive confidence. Extensive attention was paid to the circuit design, with high quality capacitors used in the signal path, a printed circuit board with short signal and power supply paths, cascode circuitry for improved power supply immunity, plus a fast bipolar transistor output stage. This all slots into an attractive aluminium casing (440x300x115mm, 12kg) with a clean looking, extruded front panel. Overall finish is good, extending to the cleanly laid out back panel – although gadget fans should look elsewhere because this is as minimalist as they come.

Big and bold yet satisfyingly subtle and sweet, this was one of the very best sounding integrateds of its day and has real appeal even now, as a secondhand buy for under £1,000. It’s never harsh or uncouth; whereas some musical sounding designs achieve their speed and pace by forwardness of tone or even grit and naked aggression, the 3010S2 remains the very model of sophistication. It delivers a wide, three-dimensional soundstage with lots of nuanced detailing, a tuneful bass and decently sweet treble. It has a big heart, and never forgets where it is and what it’s for.

Indeed, a few years ago its breezy, atmospheric presentation bettered even the excellent Creek Destiny rival in terms of overall musicality, although it wasn’t quite as beguiling a listen. An absolutely fabulous performer at its price then, it’s only when you pay £2,500 that you really better it all round. Through a really high end system the 3010S2 sounds a trifle vague and ponderous, with a slightly ‘grey’ tonality, but you’re spending £5,000 on loudspeakers to really take it out of its comfort zone. That’s certainly something you can’t say about most integrated amplifiers. The spiritual successor to the long, lost – but much-loved – ONIX OA21S, the Exposure 3010S2 is probably the purest expression of Tony Brady’s nineteen eighties minimalist design philosophy – and this is surely no bad thing!

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