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Exposure 2010S2D. After hearing the 3010S2D, and having owned a 2010S and a 1010 I have maintained a passing interest in the Exposure line up of integrated amps. I have very fond memories of the 2010S, but those are fairly old memories now, and of an amp used in a different room with different speakers. So I don’t know for sure how well those memories will hold up. As with the 3010S2D this unit was supplied by Andrew from Audiofix. My memories of the 2010S are more about an amp with character than they are about technical capabilities or performance. The 2010, being a power amp with a passive volume control, comes across as a laid back, calm and comfortable piece of gear. The music has no sharp edges, no hardness or harshness, in fact if you were to describe it as “a bit soft sounding” they you would be pretty close. It isn’t an amp that excels at fast drum solos (although it isn’t half bad at those), it really specializes in slower passages. It is fairly phlegmatic in its approach to musical reproduction, and that is just fine by me. This review started out with me being fairly sure I knew what to expect, I’ve heard this amp before and while I hadn’t heard it in my current room or on my current system I have heard several other amps on both old and new systems and I knew where the 2010 lay within those other amps presentations. Lucky for me I was correct and the 2010 does sound very much as I expected it would, but as with any audio story there is so much more to it than that. In the beginning I was listening to the 2010S2D using my traditional set up. YBA Heritage cd100 as source, Aurealis Dragon interconnects, generic old 10AWG speaker wire and Lenehan S2R speakers. And it was sounding pretty good. A bit soft in the top end (which I expected, and will explain shortly) but the mid range was very nice with possibly a little more resolution and detail on display than I recalled. Bass was nice and deep but for the most part it was kept on a short leash, very deep but very broad. Bass is used to set the mood and to back up the mid range, it isn’t the main feature so not punchy, and more polite than tight. Then I tried the little Exposure out with my newly modded Sansui SP-300S stand mounts (with new crossovers) and found that they combined so much better with the amp than my Lenehans did. The Sansuis have a hard tweeter that gives more energy to the top end and that works in this case to counter the relaxed top end of the Exposure where as when the relaxed top end of the Exposure combined with the slightly softer top end of the Lenehans some of the top end details only came through when the volume was turned up higher than usual. So the Sansuis worked far better at low listening levels, better at normal listening levels and only just better at high listening levels. However, in the past I’ve always used the Lenehans for my reviewing. Consistency is key in this game after all, so even though I was really enjoying the Sansuis I took them out of the system and put the Lenehans back in. Things went back to the way they were and I had an additional piece of info to offer up when it came time to write my review. All good there. Then Terry stuck his nose into the review (to be fair to Terry, he didn’t do so deliberately, but he did ask me to do him a favour and that had a pretty serious impact on the review) and complicated matters further. Terry had just bought a cd player from Dan, Dan and I know each other and both live out in the Kingaroy-ish area. Since I’m meant to be heading down to Terry’s place in a week or two I’ve been asked to take the cd player along for the ride and deliver it. All well and good, no problems there. But! Then Terry asks me for my opinion on the cd player (again to be fair to Terry, I don’t think he knew I was trying my damndest to get this 2010S2D review started this weekend) and I agreed because playing with new toys is what this hobby is all about. And because I’ve always wanted to hear this Consonance Droplet that people are talking about. So earlier this morning I pull the Droplet out of its box and set it up on my vibration platform. Within 20 seconds I’m hearing that this puppy is clearly superior to my YBA and not just in a small way. It completely transformed the performance of the system and it really raised the performance of the Exposure as well. Instruments and vocals were clearer and the bass tightened up and deepened just a little further. I believe a big part of this improvement comes from the Droplet having a very low output impedance. Remember my mention of that passive pre/volume control above? Well it shares that particular design with the ME240 and I’ve already found that the ME240 behaves far better when paired with a low output source (or when used with an impedance buffer in between it and the source). I believe that the YBA has a fairly high output impedance (read weak signal if you aren’t up to date on the whole impedance matching game) and the Droplet has a much lower one (read strong signal, so it can push through the passive volume pot without losing any strength or detail). So, give the 2010 a stronger signal and it sounds like it has more resolution and detail. No real surprise there I guess but it is nice to know from experience rather than deduction. The problem now is going to be going back to my YBA for all the nitty-gritty evaluating and awarding numbers to each category. That will not be an easy thing. This promises to be a bit of a long and rambling review ladies and gents. Best settle in for a multiple post review put up over several weeks. I will do my best to make it thorough but it could turn out a bit on the long winded side. Just letting everyone know ahead of time.