The basic look and indeed internal design of Exposure's 3010 Series components is familiar bordering on 'elder statesman', but the addition of an 'S' to the model number denotes a few recent changes.

Chief among these is a power-supply upgrade to increase the amp's rating and make it more confident with lower impedances. Much remains the same, though, including the basic line-only spec with the option to add a phono stage if desired.

Internally, this is a completely traditional amp with through-hole-mounted components (mostly discrete transistors doing the amplifying, just a couple of ICs being visible) assembled on a single-sided circuit board - or actually two boards, stacked vertically.

Two pairs of bipolar transistors per channel look after the output, while the mains transformer is indeed a monstrous affair good for several hundred watts. It's assisted by slightly more reservoir capacitance than usual, and with the large heat sink, it's obvious that this amp expects to be driven hard now and then. The volume control and selector switch are both mechanical types, motorised for remote-control purposes.

The case is made entirely of aluminium and has some very nice phono sockets on its rear, along with twin pairs of speaker terminals (hardwired together). There's also a twinned preamp output, offering easy upgrading to bi- and tri-amp configurations.

In our blind listening tests, the 3010S followed a couple of slightly disappointing contenders, and so was greeted all the more warmly when it suddenly seemed to add a new level of involvement and excitement.

All the same, things weren't unequivocally positive, with our listeners highlighting the slightly sibilant way it handled female vocals, and also noting a certain harshness, especially in the context of naturally bright sounds such as saxophone.

Opinions varied over the amp's tonality, the bass seeming now heavy, now well balanced. We concluded that the bass is extended, but lacks a little control compared with the efforts of one or two other contenders in the group. As a result the quality varies depending on what the amp is being asked to do - sustained bass notes sound very well extended, but 'bass transients' can seem a little over-rich.

That didn't stop the amp putting on a good rhythmical performance, though, and in the upper-bass/low-midrange region it's energetic and punchy.

The higher midrange going into the treble is perhaps a shade bright, and it was probably that rather than distortion as such that led to the odd complaint of harshness. Detail is mostly good, though perhaps not stunning.

In the Michael Jackson track, voice and backing were clearly defined both on their own and in relation to each other. The instrumental lines in Raykhelson's Jazz Suite were easy to follow, while the individual timbre of singers was made more obvious than with most models.

In addition, the 3010S turned in one of the best performances of the day imaging-wise, with lateral position clearly and stably defined and some good depth too. And in the end, what really counted in its favour was the way it managed to make the music suddenly more enjoyable and engaging for the listeners.