Earlier in 2017 Exposure Electronics launched its exciting new ‘XM’ series of hi-fi components, cleverly packing an impressive complement of high-end features into a compact and affordable design. Now, the XM3 phonostage and XM5 integrated amplifier are joined by the new XM7 preamp and XM9 mono power amp.
‘Real world’ hi-fi at ‘real world’ prices is something Exposure has always been particularly strong on and the XM series is no exception, offering smart solutions for music lovers who want superior hi-fi performance but don’t want either the size or the cost of their system to spiral out of control.
“The inspiration for the series came from the unstoppable resurgence of vinyl amid a digital age,” explains Exposure’s chief designer Tony Brady. “I see both formats as being here to stay and believe that both have further growth and development ahead of them. It’s no longer a case of either/or. At the same time, quality of sound is once again becoming important to an increasing number of people – across all media.”
Brady was keenly aware that despite this proliferation of formats and desire for quality, not every music lover or audio enthusiast has the space or budget for a massive hi-fi system with multiple bulky components. “Many music lovers want to enjoy better performance but they still want convenience and value for money.”
Compactness without compromise
The XM series is the first of Exposure’s ranges to cleverly pack a full quota of high quality features into a narrow, half-width design. Kicking off the series were the XM3 phonostage and the XM5 integrated amplifier which, despite its compact size, put the ‘integrated’ back into integrated amps with its incorporated phonostage and DAC.
The new XM7 preamplifier cannily tucks an even more extensive suite of features into its bijou box. Again, it includes a built-in moving magnet phonostage and DAC allowing both vinyl and digital bliss. The DAC sports five digital inputs, plus there’s a fixed gain home theatre input and two headphone outputs. Two preamp outputs allow for bi-amping.
While the XM7 can be partnered with a wide range of power amplifiers or active speakers, it comes into its own when paired with Exposure’s new XM9 mono power amps, described by designer Brady as “the highest performance amplifier we could fit into a compact chassis”.
What the XM series loses in bulk, it adds in high quality detail. While most smaller hi-fi components (and indeed a good many larger ones) fall back on switch-mode power supplies – which are far from audiophile grade and pollute the mains supply with noise – both the XM7 and XM9 feature a linear power supply with a large 200VA custom-made toroidal power transformer. Only high quality resistors and capacitors are used in the signal path, while Toshiba bipolar output transistors are carefully chosen for their superior dynamic performance.
In short, in the XM series Exposure have somehow managed to offer their most extensive set of features yet, but in their smallest-ever component size and without compromising musical performance. So ‘less’ really is ‘more.