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Exposure 2010S2 vs Naim Nait 5i-2

Wharfedale Speakers

vijwilso

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I had these two amps for couple of weeks and had the opportunity to compare side-by-side with the same environment .My Experience in hifi is limited .. Hence i might not be correct in all of the observation below

To me both the amps are almost in the same league . Naim obviously has got a huge fan base and enjoying the popularity , the same reason i was able to sell Naim quickly , however it is not the true for exposure and wanted to give some credit that it deserves , so that folks can have this in their list to audition

Sound Stage / Imaging : It is wider in Exposure and positioning is more precise . Exposure is more 3D space , better felt back to front and sidewise imaging . While Naim it is like a wall of waves propagate in the same plane before it hits you . The separation and space between the musical notes is really good exposure. With Exposure 2010s paired with a good source ( more than Lakh) , i felt like , i could really touch a string instrument ( In Pink Flyod) which was somewhere 3 feet from the left speaker towards the middle , in the vertical space , felt like the sound originate from that particular space with real good body to the instrument , i never felt this good in other Auditions even with the parasound/NAD CD player for the track , in which case it sounds thin.

It is enjoyable to listen to Naim though it lacks comparatively in these area

Tonal Accuracy : I felt Naim is better here . Also i need to mention that Exposure gets better with the better source . But in any case I feel Naim is the winner.

Highs : In exposure , It is very detailed . In Naim , I felt like it is been consolidated , like if the range is from "1 to 10" , it compress it to "3-7" .This was good in less than ideal recording , but in good recording like the files from Diana Krall , Exposure performs better.

Mids : I like it in Naim, which was bold compared to Exposure , with exposure it felt more neutral and in some speaker combination it sounds little fwd sounding

Lows : Exposure is the winner Here . Some of the HD tracks from Guitar Man , the Bass is actually attached to lower note of the string itself , while in Naim it is there , but little dispersed . The Bass is generally very tight in Exposure

PRAT : I presumed Naim would be better , but it was not .. exposure has got more PRAT compared to Naim... To me , PRAT is felt more if the AMP is able to control the speaker drivers better , Start and Stop has to be fast ,precise and accurate .. Exposure does it better compared to Naim ..That may be the reason , i felt the bass notes from the guitar is attached to the string itself ( refer to the Lows ) and in the percussion instruments , I could feel the pressure and tension in the drum ... To me exposure is thw winner

Transparency/Neutrality : The Exposure is more neutral , and responds well with the source .. I could say the exposure is as good/strong as the source .. The exposure was pathetic with my cheap Chinese DAC , but Naim was not that bad with the same DAC . The SQ with the exposure improved a lot with my new Audio GD DAC , but i dont have the Naim to compare . Exposure responds well with the IC / Speaker cable , the difference is so significant with various cables. I was not a believer of cable once !! . With the cheap source , Exposure sounds thin, so it will a more expensive path for the source if one choose the exposure .
 
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Dr.Bass

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Interesting observations !

I too had the Exposure 2010S2 and Nait 5i together for some time. I used them to drive my Tannoy speakers which has 10" drivers. The CD player was also Naim, so that is favourable towards the Naim. In this system it was a easy win for the Nait 5i.

1. It could control the drivers of the Tannoy much better than the Exposure. With Exposure the bass was thick and to an extend bloated. This also resulted in a darker treble range.

2. The Naim also had better drive, so you could feel a propulsive forward momentum with music, which the Exposure was not able to do.

3. PRAT is a multi-dimensional term. Just because one amp feels faster doesnt mean a lot. The way Naim preserves the timing relationship between various instruments, I have not heard any other Solid state amp do it. Even a micro second distortion in the timing cue is enough to alter the intelligibility of the presentation. It is most audible when you play a slow piece of music with a rhythmic pulse to it.

4. Tonally, as you rightly said, the Naim midrange is very good. The high frequency may have less sparkle than Exposure but I find it very coherent. Naim deliberately curbs frequency extremes in their entry level products. Some say it is because the quality of the components are chosen to a price point which may not sound very graceful on the frequency extremes and some say that it is deliberate attempt to get the user to upgrade to the next level. I am not sure which one is true.

5. Soundstage is not a Naim forte. I completely agree you do not get that front to back layered stage with Naim as you get with products of similar price. It is a relative thing though. The new age Naim products sound quite spacious, still a step behind many of the soundstage champs.

I have also heard an Exposure with Exposure CD player and it was very good. Better than with a Naim CD player.
 

aashish351

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For the areas you found lacking in 2010S2 - Drive, control, timing - 3010S2 comes in. It brings those along with the strengths it already has. I have compared 2010S2 and 3010S2 in the same setup and found 3010S2 miles ahead of 2010S2. I am glad that the 2010S2 was not in stock at the time and I decided to go ahead with 3010S2.
 

vijwilso

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Interesting observations !

I too had the Exposure 2010S2 and Nait 5i together for some time. I used them to drive my Tannoy speakers which has 10" drivers. The CD player was also Naim, so that is favourable towards the Naim. In this system it was a easy win for the Nait 5i.

Thanks . I was waiting for more views on this .

Can you share observation with the 'Various Sources' with Naim & Exposure 2010S2. My current source is the entry level DAC from Audio GD , Always wanted to try with the better source like the Naim CD player or better DAC
 

Dr.Bass

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Thanks . I was waiting for more views on this .

Can you share observation with the 'Various Sources' with Naim & Exposure 2010S2. My current source is the entry level DAC from Audio GD , Always wanted to try with the better source like the Naim CD player or better DAC

If you want to buy cd player, get the exposure cd player. It is a very good match with exposure amp. If you want a DAC then it depends on the budget.
 

vijwilso

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If you want to buy cd player, get the exposure cd player. It is a very good match with exposure amp. If you want a DAC then it depends on the budget.

Yes I heard it with the 3010 CD player , which was really good . But CD player would not work for me , as i use the same setup for movies .

DAC isn't easily accessible in India , and not possible to experiment without purchasing it.
 

vijwilso

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Naim deliberately curbs frequency extremes in their entry level products.

I liked it this way , i don't want it to recreate higher frequency extremes . It was more enjoyable in Naim especially in my small room , It is my personal taste though

Interesting observations !

1. It could control the drivers of the Tannoy much better than the Exposure. With Exposure the bass was thick and to an extend bloated. This also resulted in a darker treble range.

2. The Naim also had better drive, so you could feel a propulsive forward momentum with music, which the Exposure was not able to do.

Our comparision was with ProAc studio 140 and felt exposure got a better control . Exposure should be a better matching amp for this speaker .
 

vijwilso

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For the areas you found lacking in 2010S2 - Drive, control, timing - 3010S2 comes in. It brings those along with the strengths it already has. I have compared 2010S2 and 3010S2 in the same setup and found 3010S2 miles ahead of 2010S2. I am glad that the 2010S2 was not in stock at the time and I decided to go ahead with 3010S2.

My experience with 3010S2 was bit weird , I have had very high expectation on this after hearing the 2010S2 , but it was not as good as 2010S2 .

I thought my mind was playing trick, unable to meet my already higher expectation and asked for the suggestion from my friend who was with me in both auditions and he also reflected my views .

The person in the shop told me the Amp was completely burnt-in and also warmed up for 30 mins prior to the Audition. But the change in the setup was with the CD player which is replaced by 2010S2 CD player with 3010S2 amp , where-in the earlier Audition with 20102 Amp was with the 3010S2 CD player .

I still dont know the reason for it , but one possibility is that high Quality source has got more weightage compared to the Amp in the overall sound quality , especially with the amplifier that is neutral and transparent.

When I started my ungrade , I was not paying much attention to the source , but looks like that is the major omission still could not make up my mind to upgrade it ( partially due to the difficulties in auditioning various source) . May be the amp is just one component , that should be just true to the source and reflect the goodness in it.

Now with your comments , my interest level has become high to find out which weighs more in the Source vs amplifier . I will post here later in couple of weeks .

BTW , what was your source/speakers in your 2010S2/3010S2 comparison ?
 
M

mpw

Guest
The Balance of the whole chain is important. That's a given.

The better source you have the better the result since the source is a canvas on which other components interplay.

Please do not mistake the source as just a DAC or CD player.. Please read the word source as a good Dac or cdp + a good cd or file or record.

No point in having the best source if you feed it crappy recording.

Mpw
 

aashish351

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A high quality source is required for any amplifier to show its worth. With Exposure 3010S2 it is a must. My combination of Exposure + Dali was ruthlessly revealing and I could spot cable, dac, interconnect and source differences very easily. This kind of sound is not everybody's cup of tea. I really like detailed, clinical, neutral sound. And Exposure 3010S2 is a massively powerful and attacking amplifier. It works exactly on the garbage-in garbage-out principle.

Regarding 2010S2 and 3010S2 CD players. The bigger brother is a huge step up from the smaller one. 3010S2 has a dual mono configuration. It is bound to give out a much higher performance and especially with an amp like 3010S2 - you will see the difference.

The sources / speakers in my comparison were:

Dynaudio DM2/6 and Dali Ikon 6 Speakers
Rega DAC, Sony BDP-S470 Blu-Ray Player
 
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vijwilso

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The Balance of the whole chain is important. That's a given.

The better source you have the better the result since the source is a canvas on which other components interplay.

Please do not mistake the source as just a DAC or CD player.. Please read the word source as a good Dac or cdp + a good cd or file or record.

No point in having the best source if you feed it crappy recording.

Mpw

Agree and it is true , it is always with the the best recording in CD or HiReS format , so did not add a explicit note on it.
 

aashish351

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And, one more thing... many-a-auditions have been trashed because it is mental comparison with a setup in another environment. We often downplay the importance of same environment for comparison. That is why I don't believe in store auditions. It's either home audition or no audition!
 

vijwilso

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My combination of Exposure + Dali was ruthlessly revealing and I could spot cable, dac, interconnect and source differences very easily. This kind of sound is not everybody's cup of tea. I really like detailed, clinical, neutral sound.

Yes , I listened to Dali with other amps and it is not to my liking . I think Dali Ikon should be the one to blame for the clinical sound , not the exposure , it is quite involving .

Is the 3010 with the passive pre-amp , i assume the passive pre-amp would respond well with the source ( with the proper match )
 

vijwilso

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And, one more thing... many-a-auditions have been trashed because it is mental comparison with a setup in another environment. We often downplay the importance of same environment for comparison. That is why I don't believe in store auditions. It's either home audition or no audition!

My Observation was in the same demo room with the same components for the rest of the chain , expect the Amp + CD combination . it is kindof swapped :)
 
M

mpw

Guest
there is a stereophile review on the exposure 3010 and if i recall correctly - there is a mention that the 2010 is better than 3010.

Numerically higher up the order does not mean better sound.

But the caveat is always there - YMMV

mpw
 

aashish351

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I spent a lot of times with those reviews and that's how decided to buy 2010S2 without auditioning. And then read them twice again before changing to 3010S2. What Stereophile is saying in summary is that the bigger brother is not the same bang for the buck when compared to similarly priced amps. But if you read the July 2013 HiFi Choice Group test, the 3010 S2 wins against established favourites such as Cyrus 8a, Creek Destiny 2. So there is really no saying with reviews. All I have are personal opinions!
 
M

mpw

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which is why.. YMMV....

I had a similar choice the Exposure 2010 Vs the naim nait 5i-2

A wise / experienced head in these matters in Bangalore ( after hearing the 2010 at the the exposure dealer in bangalore ) tipped it in favour of the Naim.. but only by teeny weeny much..

and thats how i got the naim nait 5i

i have not heard the 2010 or 3010..

Thing is - i have read that even the naim XS not as good soundwise as the naim nait 5i ( despite its higher power ). It may or may not be true.

The point is not that i own a naim but that higher power or higher spec doesnt translate into better sound.. always..

anyway.. back to killerbrain

mpw
 

vijwilso

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which is why.. YMMV....

I had a similar choice the Exposure 2010 Vs the naim nait 5i-2

A wise / experienced head in these matters in Bangalore ( after hearing the 2010 at the the exposure dealer in bangalore ) tipped it in favour of the Naim.. but only by teeny weeny much..

i have not heard the 2010 or 3010..

Thing is - i have read that even the naim XS not as good soundwise as the naim nait 5i ( despite its higher power ). It may or may not be true.

The point is not that i own a naim but that higher power or higher spec doesnt translate into better sound.. always..

anyway.. back to killerbrain

mpw

mpw,
You made a good choice .. I would have to choose Nait-2 if it is primarly for Tonal Acuracy and Mid Range even which is better even with less than ideal source. To me this is more important to me than anything else , soundstage / highs / lows comes next to me which may be important criteria for others . With Audio-GD it shows good improvement in Mid/tonal accuracy and that is my urge to experiment more .

I agree with you on more power does not necessary translate into better sound .

It is good to hear that some reviews are inline my view on 2010S2 vs 3010S2 , All along i was thinking i am the only one feeling this way.

Anyways i will experiment more on this and update.
 
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ghatgepatil

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i have not heard the 2010 or 3010..

Thing is - i have read that even the naim XS not as good soundwise as the naim nait 5i ( despite its higher power ). It may or may not be true.

The point is not that i own a naim but that higher power or higher spec doesnt translate into better sound.. always..
mpw

A bit of OT ... but which other high-end higher powered amps have you heard 'yourself' and matched to what speakers to conclude that higher power may not be the only criteria to decide upon the overall SQ? Asking so, since I may be in the market to procure one in the immediate future. My location does not permit to hear myself, hence asking for opinions here.
Thanks
 
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