The fifth in Exposure’s XM series of compact, half-width components, the XM HP is “extremely versatile” and offers “more than its official designation as a headphone amplifier would suggest,” says David Price, who awards it a duo of badges – ‘highly commended’ and ‘recommended’.
“The XM HP is effectively a ‘greatest hits’ of the company’s full-size 2010 component series, sandwiched into a little box,” writes Price. “There’s certainly a lot going on inside.”
It features a 60VA custom-made toroidal power, an all-discrete audio output stage, an IC-based MM phono stage and a Wolfson WM8742 DAC chip transformer that handles digital signals from two coaxial BNC inputs, two Toslink optical inputs and a Class 2 USB input.
Add to that the choice of variable or fixed RCA outputs, and “the XM HP could, if you wanted to, work as a phono stage, a DAC or a preamplifier – or all – in addition to its headphone amplifier duties.”
“Just a few minutes spent listening to the XM HP shows that the half-width dimensions haven’t sacrificed any of the brand’s musical capabilities and the little box sounds very good indeed, with a grown-up sound that belies its diminutive dimensions.”
“It is powerful and smooth, yet detailed and musical.” “There’s plenty of speed and energy… and no lack of grunt even when driving serious hi-fi headphones.” “Soundstaging is impressive and things seem immediate and well placed in space.”
In conclusion: “There’s a lot to like about the XM HP, but what’s so impressive is that every aspect of this versatile product is done to a good standard. It brings a seamlessness across the board, which is rare in products of this price.”