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Amplifier Exposure XX review

In the dim and distant past, all specialist amplifiers were required to adopt a rather bleak and utilitarian uniform, a badge of office betraying an audiophile pretention. Nowadays, Exposure seems keen to resurrect this tradition, presenting the XX by way of example. So having whetted your appetite, Exposure will tempt you further with its XV alternative, an identical-looking package equipped with either an MM or MC phono stage.

This latter version will set you back another ? 100, a burden avoided by the line-only XX. Both amplifiers have evolved from the older Exposure X and both are equally quirky in their design. Central and local power supply regulation is maintained at every stage in the amp, for example, though the L and R channels are not constructed in a symmetrical fashion.

These and other foibles combine to yield an amplifier that positively loathes difficult speaker loads, while suffering differences in distortion (and presumably sound) from its left and right channels.

Sound quality

The first time we heard the Exposure XX its character was dominated by a tonal balance that can only be described as lightweight. Comments like: thin, wispy and ‘has the bass player fallen off the stage’ were very common. The only positive remark related to the midrange, which one listener described as vivid and communicative.

However, on its second appearance the panel received the XX with rather less criticism, warming to its keen sense of timing and general lack of hash. In fact, it seemed to have relaxed considerably. It was still slightly dulled at very high frequencies, but with a sense of coherence that made for a refined performance.

These descriptions could be for different amps, but they reveal the extent to which views on the XX can differ.

Conclusion

The Exposure XX is obviously not an amplifier for all seasons. Its limited power and load tolerance make it unpredictable, and the different responses it ellicited in the blind listening suggest that, though capable of fine results under the right circumstances, its appeal is too narrow to warrant commendation.

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