In 2017 Exposure Electronics launched the ‘XM’ series of hi-fi components, cleverly packing an impressive complement of high-end features and performance into an astonishingly compact and affordable design. Since then, the series has picked up a raft of reviews and awards, and grown to include a phonostage, an integrated amplifier, a preamplifier, mono power amps and a headphone amp. ‘Any chance of a CD player too?’ asked customers. Absolutely!
When CD was launched more than three decades ago, it was advertised with the slogan ‘perfect sound forever’. Of course in reality nothing is either perfect or forever, but despite various pronouncements of the death of the CD, the format lives on, taking its rightful place alongside vinyl, digital and tape in the modern music lover’s abundant collection. Still, the launch of a brand new CD player is a relatively rare event these days, so one to celebrate.
As always, the Exposure design is clearly informed by what customers actually want, rather than by the latest fad. First, it has the flexibility of operating as a standalone CD player, while also being designed as a CD transport to connect with the brand’s XM5 integrated amplifier or XM7 preamp. Second, customers didn’t want a slot loader, and a drawer loader wouldn’t work in a compact half-width design. Exposure have therefore crafted something very satisfying indeed: a rather smart top-loading mechanism that sports a sliding lid and comes with a magnetic clamp. Suddenly, loading a CD feels almost as pleasing as cueing up a vinyl record.
Exposure XM CD player key features:
- PCM 1716 24-bit DAC provides very high resolution.
- Convenient and high quality top-loading mechanism.
- Full-function remote control.
- CD display can be turned off using the remote control for enhanced sound quality.
- Digital outputs allow use as a CD transport with XM5 integrated amplifier or XM7 preamplifier.
- Highly optimised audio output circuitry with multiple stages of supply regulation.
- Large toroidal power transformer with separate windings for CD transport mechanism and audio stages.
- A high-stability crystal clock reference and dedicated power supply regulator for the transport and audio stages ensure low jitter performance.
- High quality double-sided PCBs for optimum layout and screening.
- All-aluminium casework and extruded front panel to control unwanted resonance and electro-magnetic fields.
Getting real: compactness without compromise
Why has Exposure worked so hard to cleverly pack a full quota of high quality features and performance into a compact, half-width design in its XM series?
Because ‘real world’ hi-fi at ‘real world’ prices is something that the company has always been passionate about. The XM series offers an appealing alternative for music lovers who crave superior audio performance but aren’t necessarily in the market for a hi-fi system that risks emptying their bank account and taking over their home.
While some hi-fi die-hards draw a clear line between ‘music lovers’ and ‘audiophiles’, Exposure’s chief designer Tony Brady is not so quick to categorise. “Why divide?” he asks. “Music lover versus audiophile, analogue versus digital, this format versus that. I’m all for embracing the whole, and for using the differences to inspire products that offer the best of all worlds. People want soul-stirring sound quality and convenience and flexibility and value for money. For a designer that’s an exciting challenge.”