While shoving as many features into a single box as possible is trendy these days, Exposure’s focus on core integrated amplifier functionality frees it to reach the rarest of elevations.
Exposure 3510 Integrated Amplifier
- Unfussy and uncomplicated in basic form.
- Optional plug-in modules can add integrated DAC or phono stage (MM or MC).
- Bold and engaging sound presentation, rich with subtlety and dynamics.
Exposure’s newest top-of-the-line integrated amplifier makes a statement by what it is NOT. By eschewing streaming, touch screens, Bluetooth, networking, connected apps, and room correction, it runs counter to the current fad of trying to be all things to all people. What it does do, however, it does with extraordinary ability.
110W @ 8 ohms
Black or titanium finish
The Exposure 3510 integrated amplifier replaced the long-running and highly regarded 3010 model. As is often the case, the new amplifier has been updated utilizing various lessons learned in the design of more upmarket models. Here, the ideas trickled down from Exposure’s top-of-the-range 5010 Series separates. The casework on the 3510 consists of plain black anodized aluminum with red LEDs and radiused corners. It is also available in a titanium finish, which appears in photos as silver, and features blue LEDs. Exposure also offers the option to add one of three plug-in boards—DAC, MC phono, or MM phono. The phono boards have adjustable gain and loading via jumpers. As none of the plug-in boards were used for this review, your dealer or Exposure should be consulted for additional information.
The 3510 is supplied with a traditional, multifunction remote control handset. I had no complaints with this lightweight, infrared-based design, which proved consistently responsive, including the ability to pass through the perforated door of my component rack. Notably, the 3510 is the first integrated amplifier to which Exposure has fitted a headphone jack. There are also two pre-outs, one of which I used for my SVS SB-3000 throughout testing.
The Exposure 3510 reminds me a lot of integrated amplifiers of a decade and older ago. It used to be an integrated amplifier was itself a sacrilege to purists who believed pre and power amplification simply must be separated in order to realize top performance. I never subscribed to that, nor did British manufacturers such as Rega, Sugden, and Naim, all of which have included several integrated amplifiers in their lineups for decades. Separates require not only funds, but space, and those two elements do not always find themselves together. Accordingly, out of preference or necessity, I became a student of integrated amplifiers and have owned, heard, and/or reviewed a not inconsequential percentage of highly regarded integrated amplifiers made in the last 20 years.
With only brief pauses, I have owned a Naim integrated amplifier in one system or another for the last 15 years. The 3510 replaced a Naim Nait XS 3 ($3,999) in my upstairs system. Unexpectedly, I never quite fell for the sound through the XS 3 and the match with the Revel F226Be loudspeakers was not all I’d hoped. The rest of the system consists of a Rega Planar 6 turntable with Ania Pro MC phono cartridge, an iFi iPhono3 Black Label phono stage, an Auralic Altair G1 DAC streamer, and the previously mentioned SVS subwoofer. All source and speaker cables are by Audience.
There is really nothing to the set-up here. Once you physically connect cables, you are ready to listen, or, at the very least, to start the break-in process. I was told by the distributor this unit takes a fair amount of time to break in, more so than the previous model 3010. This is because Exposure wanted the 3510 to consume less power at idle and thus be more environmentally friendly. Achieving this goal did not result in any performance compromises, allegedly, and that sounds logical to me. By all accounts, a few hundred hours of playing time (as opposed to idle) is all that is required for adequate break-in. In my experience, that amount of time is not materially different from any of the fellow British brands mentioned above.
Out of the box, the 3510 sounded a good deal more muscular than what I am used to from other integrated amplifiers, particularly my longtime reference, Naim’s Nait XS series. Broadly speaking, my initial impressions of the Exposure reminded me of the Naim Supernait 2 ($5,699), which I owned for several years before reverting to Naim’s more fleet-footed XS series. Like the Supernait 2, the 3510 seemed to lack the precision and insight I normally crave, but compensated with a more full-bodied, balanced presentation. Notably, movies and any material with prodigious bass came across in exemplary fashion, reminding me again and again of not only the Supernait 2, but the even more robust-sounding Krell K-300i. Indeed, this is no faint praise—the Krell is an incredible performer, especially in low-end articulation and impact. That the Exposure’s bass referenced the Krell’s almost immediately was no small feat.
Beastie Boys “Hello Nasty”
The Exposure’s sound presentation in all areas evolved over several months. Whereas in the beginning the midrange lacked a good degree of clarity and I sometimes struggled to understand dialogue or sung lyrics seemed slurred, the midrange sharpened over time. To my ears, this brought the Exposure much closer to a particular strength of Naim’s XS series as it improved both energy and attack. The maturation of the 3510 was illustrated to full effect upon playing the frenetic “Just a Test” from the Beastie Boys’ 1998 album, Hello Nasty.
Over and over again, I marveled at how well the 3510 got along with the Revels in my room. I detected no issues with the rated output power. Without intending to, I achieved volume levels that regularly drew complaints from my neighbors. More importantly, the sound qualities of the Exposure were a great match with both the high-resolution Revels and Auralic DAC. The combination generated a wide and tall soundstage that, while it might lack the absolute last word in resolution or neutrality, you willingly make such a trade 99 times out of 100 because every component has flaws. It is rare a system can sound as detailed, rich, and inviting as what I heard consistently from the Exposure 3510. In this way, the sound resembled the single-ended, Class A, Sugden A21SE ($3,750), which is, in many respects, the best integrated amplifier I have ever heard. The exposure did not replicate the immediacy and holographic decay of instruments that is the A21SE’s calling card, but that it gives you a satisfying taste of such special things, along with a heaping dose of slam, and without room-filling heat, all for $3,495 is nothing short of triumphant.
While you can certainly get more features, I have no idea where you would go for better overall performance for the money.
- Balanced—articulation, warmth, and slam
- Simple, unfussy
- Never runs warm
- Direct/dedicated bi-wire connections
- Two pre-outs for multiple subwoofers
- Responsive remote control
- Optional phono stage or DAC capability
- More colors, à la Sugden’s cool “Custom Shop”
THE EXPOSURE 3510 is the most musically complete, balanced integrated amplifier I have heard in years. On sound quality, fun, flexibility, value, and satisfaction, it takes its place among the all-timers.