What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Sat, 13 Sep 2003, 2:00pm

Exposure 3010

Tested at £1000
80100
4

The rich and creamy sound will appeal, but the 3010 can be beaten for pure clarity

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For

  • Warm, emotive sound
  • good dynamics and accurate timing

Against

  • Lacks openness and clarity
  • fails to deliver sparkle of the class-leaders

If there's an ‘Exposure sound' we've noticed over the years, we'd describe it as a bit like Phill Jupitus: beefy but with top-drawer timing. Not surprisingly, the 3010 amplifier fits into this category.

With a power output of 100 watts per channel, there's plenty of grunt for the lower realms of the frequency range. The Exposure holds a firm grip on the bass notes of Bjork's Hyperballad and delivers the tune in a controlled manner. Similarly with the track Those We Don't Speak Of, taken from The Village OST, the 3010 shows good composure and crunches its way with purpose through this dramatic score. Each drumbeat hits the spot with weight and purpose. The lively, entertaining sound shows it's certainly no slouch when it's forced to pick up the pace.

Thankfully, when things do start to speed up, the Exposure also performs well in the timing department. Tunes such as Bjork's Hyperballad and Faithless's Insomnia bound along with enjoyable energy. The 3010 doesn't get confused during the delivery and its rhythmic ability ensures your feet tap along in tandem with the music.

The Exposure's general character is rich and silky smooth: Nina Simone's intimate vocals during Feeling Good sound warm and emotive as opposed to cold and lifeless. Its calming and controlling nature meets you with open arms – at no time do you feel distanced or isolated from the music.

The devil is the detail 
However, this rich presentation hinders the Exposure's ability to uncover detail:
it doesn't burrow as deep in its search for information as the best amps in its class. Recordings lack an air of transparency and there isn't the almost supernatural clarity of the best £1000 amplifiers.

The sight shortfall of detail has a knock-on effect on stereo imaging. This lack of clarity means it can't deliver sound with pinpoint precision, and so the vocals and instruments aren't rendered accurately enough in the soundstage. Even so we'd be surprised if most people don't take to this amp's musical nature.

In terms of build quality and styling, the Exposure has a more conventional look than some rivals, with a brushed aluminium display that hosts both source and volume controls. It isn't quite as elegant or as visually appealing as some of the competition, and the same applies to the multi-functional remote control: it isn't the most flattering of designs.

The Exposure is a good performer – its rich, creamy character may well endear some potential buyers, but some of the competition can offer you so much more.

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