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Integrated sonics
My initial focus was the S2010 integrated whose seriousness was soon apparent. Potent dynamics were obvious off the bat and despite my aversion to clichés, I instantly flashed on "hear, hear, a transistor", this due to the fact that stone cold, the amp redlines dynamically but fine resolution takes another thirty minutes to come on song but then does surprisingly so.

The S2010 paints an incredibly precise picture. Not only was Ofri Brin's voice [On Shore Remain] highly nuanced but very fine noises of tongue and gum were perceptible to suggest insight into the mouth. I'm usually no fan of recordings where the sound engineer elected to place his microphone down the throat of a leading lady. Such detail often strikes me as near pornographic but the cut "Tango" calls for it by enforcing close attention with its sparse arrangement.

Subsequent combing through my music collection confirmed first impressions. Exposure's S2010 integrated is extremely exacting and neutral. Besides its precision, I was also
impressed by soundstage sorting. Dee Dee Bridgewater's Live At Yoshi's left no doubt where on stage she stood at any given time or whom she addressed off stage. Instrumental placement, their proportions and physicalities too were appropriate. Since colleague Jörg was kind enough to leave behind a smattering of speaker cables, I embarked on a quick cable comparison where the Exposure did not disappoint. Individual cable traits were clearly apparent. Ditto for how 'lame' wires compromised quality. My favorite cable of this round was clearly the fastest though I would have loved to hear some Nordost (another brand of the same importer). Nonetheless, the fact that an integrated at ca.€1,000 was resolved enough to conduct cable comparisons was telling all by itself.

I somehow got fixated on predominantly dynamic material. "Lullaby of Broadway" is one of my favorite tracks on the Catherina Valente in London album. The recording is quite good for its time but one does note subsequent mastering edits. The Exposure really highlighted those manipulations not like a know-it-all magic-trick spoiler but more like a shoulder shrug saying "okay, here they added some extra reverb, over there some emphasis.. well, never mind, the music rocks, let's carry on". The particular mix of neutrality, precision and fun which characterize the amp really had me at hello..

For a change of scenery, I inserted the S2010 integrated into my second system where it would drive my trusted Expolinear 120T speaker. Source here is the Thorens TD 160HD. Because Exposure's loaner arrived sans optional phono board, I leashed up a Lehmann Black Cube II SE to the Benz Micro Gold MC pickup. Here the amp was right at home, too. These very quick speakers nicely catered to its particular talents. And the 2010's neutrality left these ears in no doubt where exactly vinyl still bests CDs - in the midrange. On Somethin' Else [Blue Note 1595], Miles Davis' trumpet gained fine detail, Sarah Vaughan's voice sensuality on Sarah Vaughan [EmArcy 36004]. I was impressed by how this amp conveyed the personalities of specific sources.

Any shadows in this tale? Well, other amps do certain things better. My €2,500 Jadis Orchestra has an even finer nose for the music. Where the Exposure places individual instruments accurately into the room, the Orchestra connects the dots of interplay and is more informative about harmonies and dissonances. I was surprised to discover a slight bass reticence with the S2010. 75 transistor watts should have been sufficient to
tickle my Geithains into proper bass thunders at room levels but somehow the amp practiced a bit of understatement. Bass had proper attack but the final pressure and darkest blackness were lacking. On The Kills' title track of the eponymous No Wow CD, Alison Mosshart's voice peels out from between volatile infrasonic synth-drum beats. With the Exposure, that bass violence sounded more like vocal accompaniment. Or take Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps. The drums which end the first ecstasy didn't embody the same earthly authority as I know it from my Jadis valves. The flip side of such bass leanness is of course never running the risk of portliness where low tones disappear in morass. The mantra here seems to be "rather a bit less but on the dot than too much and out of focus".

I should add that this criticism is pretty stern simply because other traits of the S2010 operate at clearly above average. The amp then has to suffer a yardstick informed by higher expense. So more is possible but it'll cost you. Overall, the core virtue of Exposure's S2010 is neutrality. And to me, neutrality isn't synonymous with acing every discipline. Each member of the hifi chain subtracts a bit from what's encoded on the source material. Ideally, each step of the way suffers minimal losses. Some audiophiles pursue happiness with component combinations where individual shortcomings are strategically countermanded to hope for a balanced outcome in the end. A treble-shy amp gets a bass-shy speaker to equalize the imbalance while the source should subdue the mid band to slot properly between lows and highs.

That's risky business. In photographic terms, it's attempting to arrive at a neutral color temperature by combining different tint filters. You'd be far better off with a neutral grey filter which absorbs all colors equally to render a darker but still color-true image.
S2010 CD player sonics
My enthusiasm for the integrated so far gave the spinner of the same name short shrift. My gravest criticism of it is shared by other CD players. When bothering to replace the drawer's plastic spoiler with one's own, why go for sharp edges? Brushed aluminum is surely lovely but not when its edges are so sharp as to scratch every CD casually inserted. The S2010 killed one of my CDs outright, another was badly damaged and a rescue attempt with tooth paste was only marginally successful. Granted, one can pay proper attention when loading CDs but the Exposure turns can into must.

Unlike the amp, the CD player has a distinct self sound. Compared to my aging Creek CD43 MkII, the Exposure sounds very precise. Image focus and localization clearly show that CD players have evolved over the last 10 years. The Creek is comparably fuzzy and out of focus. But it counters the Exposure with more fundamental warmth though the newcomer's dynamic reflexes (no weakness with the Creek) certainly don't come in second.

Compared to my treasured Logitech Transporter as digital streamer, the Exposure S2010 is voiced somewhat lighter, leaner and cooler, albeit more as a function of personal taste rather than existential right or wrong. The Transporter is ultimately also a tad more resolved - and €1,000 more expensive without yet the cost for the NAS memory. For this test, I listened to most CDs (also over the Transporter) via the Exposure spinner and the sonics described held true regardless of music material. The Jadis Orchestra elucidated this CD signal more comprehensively than the Exposure. While the British team mates play well together, the valves extracted more from the S2010 source, indicating that it does well in dearer company.

If you're in the market for a commendable integrated in the €1000-something league and best tradition of Brit-Fi and can sacrifice some pressure in the bass, Exposure's S2010 is a very solid choice. Compared to the amp's neutrality, the matching CDP has a bit of character and leans lightly into the analytical. What it lacks in warmth is made up for in musical drive however.

Overall, the Exposure 2010 combo is fast, somewhat lean and smart by which I mean color neutral, sharply focused and exposed on the dime. Exposure's 2010 integrated is characterized by:
  • Perfect neutrality (lower octaves excepted) to do well in any system demanding it.
  • Features restricted to the bare minimum, with the remote the only luxury.
  • Special strengths of dynamics, speed and resolution to suggest that in those matters, the other components in the chain are the limiting factors.

Exposure's 2010 CD player is characterized by:

  • Being highly differentiated and quick, even analytical yet not hard but rather, dynamic and resolved.
  • Fundamental lightness or brightness which some might find lacking in warmth.
  • Softer edges of the drawer's front would be safer for CDs.

Exposure S 2010 integrated
Dimensions and weight: 90 × 440 × 300mm (H×WxD), 7 kg
Output power: 2 × 75 W/8Ω
Power consumption: max. 200 W at full output
Connectivity: 6 inputs, 1 fixed and variable output each, twinned speaker posts for bananas exclusively, not individually switched and for biwiring
Other: remote, MM or MC phono board option

Exposure S 2010 CD-Player
Weight and dimensions: 90 × 440 × 300mm (H×WxD), 5 kg
Power consumption: 25 W
Connectivity: RCA analog out, coax and Toslink digital out
Other: remote control

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