Okay, so I never got to give the promised "impressions" and the "pictures" will also have to wait a bit.
The weekend got busy so managed a fair bit of listening but no time yet to scribble a few notes here until now.
First a bit about my set-up (humble as it is).
Apple TV to Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 to Exclame to B&W 602 S2's. Decent but not extra special cables throughout.
The Exclame replaced a 16 year old Marantz PM6010 OSE.
No surprises that the Exclame blows the old Marantz clear out the water in every aspect (goes without saying) - but what I notice and appreciate the most are the following:
Imaging - I have always found the 602's to image well and be quite forgiving of placement and the room in this regard. Central imaging is always precise and steady. Now the Exclame has shown me that up until now the imaging has been very one dimensional - individual sounds are well placed left to right but that was about it. The Exclame has given height and to some extent depth to the imaging. What really catches me out and surprises me is almost a 4th dimension of "body" (best word I can think of) - in other words the voice or instrument is not only well located in the sound stage but there is a sense of scale at the same time, the vocalist has a head and body and is not just a point source of sound.
Bass - really pushes much lower than the old amp. Quite surprised here as I had assumed the speakers were the limiting factor here in my set-up. Good well controlled lower registers which really help with overall presentation. I think my room might even be booming a bit - something I never noticed before (will need to measure at some point....) - not so much that this is a negative mind you.
Volume - not surprising that the ~150W Exclame would be able to push louder, but it remains so much more listenable as volume increases. The B&W's still harden up when pushed (nothing the amp can do there) but much less fatiguing up to volumes that are a bit "too loud". Previously I could go to these volumes and enjoyed it, but quite quickly reached for the remote..... The real bonus for me though is at the other end of the spectrum. I don't get to, and don't particularly prefer to, listen very loud very often. At lower volume the Exclame is truly superb - the whole lot stays together, imaging, presentation and the overall enjoyment. Previously, at lower volume it all lost its realism somehow. Really like this aspect.
Overall instruments, particularly brass instruments, have much more timbre and presence. My set-up has always been quite good on female vocal and it still is, but I am enjoying male vocal more than before (Bryan Ferry for instance).
So - one very happy puppy. As indicated, I was planning to double wammy and get the Exclame and treat myself to a new set of speakers. I will still go through the auditioning process (looking at Paradigm Monitor range, maybe MA Silver 6, Focal 714/716 and Castle Avon 4/5 which are unfortunately not available for audition here in CT to my knowledge). But I may just enjoy what I have for a while....
I am still in that phase of not being able to get through an album - listen to a few songs and then think "oh wow, that was nice - I bet xyz would sound great as well" so jump to xyz for a few tracks and so on. So far tonight (only been sitting here since 8 or so) I have done some Beverley Craven, Bryan Ferry, Dianna Krall and am currently listening to the Doors. The weekend saw some Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Eagles, Eva Cassidy......