Cyrus One

FOR Solid, in­sight­ful sound; aptx Blue­tooth; phono stage AGAINST Lack a lit­tle subtlety and rhyth­mic pre­ci­sion

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Few things are more cer­tain in life than death, taxes and Cyrus’s con­sis­tency with stereo amplifiers. Keep­ing up that tra­di­tion is the One, a homage to the brand’s de­but am­pli­fier, the Cyrus 1, which helped launch the com­pany in the mid-1980s. This new model fea­tures its lat­est-gen Class D am­pli­fi­ca­tion.

The de­sign team has gone off-piste, re­tain­ing the com­pact foot­print of other amps in Cyrus’s ar­se­nal but de­liv­er­ing a more con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic. And, dare we say, more ex­otic.

Many clever tricks

In­stead of the typ­i­cal retro but­tons and dis­play screen, this Cyrus amp has bright LED lights that cir­cle the matt-black vol­ume and source-se­lec­tion di­als, which dom­i­nate a front panel that’s glossy and slightly pro­truded.

It takes some get­ting used to, but it’s love on sec­ond sight, even if the build qual­ity doesn’t ap­pear to be up to Cyrus’s usual stan­dards – in our time with it, one of the feet came away from the unit – and the case­work feels a lit­tle cheap. The credit-card style re­mote con­trol doesn’t feel great ei­ther. The new Cyrus One may be named af­ter a prod­uct that launched 33 years ago, but the specs have been brought up to date. There’s no DAC, but aptx Blue­tooth is on board so you can stream mu­sic from a phone, tablet or lap­top.

On the ana­logue front, there are four line-level in­puts (one of which has an AV by­pass mode so it can dou­ble as a power amp in a home cin­ema set-up) a mov­ing-mag­net phono stage, and a 6.3mm head­phone and pre-amp out­put.

The keener-eyed will no­tice the ab­sence of ob­vi­ous heat sinks, thanks to the use of ef­fi­cient Class D tech­nol­ogy. Take a look in­side and you’ll see the use of thicker tracks on the cir­cuit board – just one of many clever tricks Cyrus has im­ple­mented here in the quest for bet­ter sound qual­ity.

To re­duce un­wanted noise, sig­nal paths have been short­ened, and the path con­nect­ing the Blue­tooth mod­ule to the pre-amp stage is bal­anced to aid per­for­mance.

The brief light dis­play when the amp pow­ers up de­notes some­thing Cyrus calls SID (speaker im­ped­ance de­tec­tion), a process whereby the im­ped­ance of the con­nected speak­ers is mea­sured and the out­put re­sponse ad­justed ac­cord­ingly.

Spread the words

Brands as con­sis­tent as Cyrus of­ten have a spe­cific sonic sig­na­ture, but un­usu­ally for a Cyrus prod­uct re­view we aren’t start­ing off this sec­tion by us­ing the words ‘fast’, ‘dy­namic’ or ‘rhyth­mic’.

The One sur­prises again, de­liv­er­ing a glossy and tidily bal­anced pre­sen­ta­tion that’s lath­ered with the sort of punch and so­lid­ity that makes SBTRKT’S Wild­fire sound im­me­di­ately ar­rest­ing. The open­ing drums snap through our speak­ers with force, and the chubby bassline is freighted with plenty of weight as it moves at pace over the top. The silky pop vo­cal in­hab­its the sound­stage with con­vic­tion and is fleshed out with­out sound­ing too thick or sac­ri­fic­ing tex­ture.

It’s not flaw­less, though. A lack of spa­tial util­ity and dy­namic subtlety makes the labyrinthine track seem

con­gested. Rega’s Elex-r, by con­trast, gives a masterclass in cap­tur­ing the rhyth­mic wonk­i­ness. Switch to Óla­fur Ar­nalds’ Ljósiđ and although the Cyrus gets across the de­lib­er­ate hard­ness of the vi­o­lin with­out tip­ping it into feel­ing harsh or strained, it strug­gles to com­mu­ni­cate the low-level dy­nam­ics of the strokes. With­out that vari­a­tion and subtlety, the One isn’t quite a su­per­star.

Still, the phono stage will only en­cour­age the vinyl-col­lect­ing habit. The Tallest Man On Earth’s Singers is a bold, in­sight­ful lis­ten, with vo­cals, gui­tars and strings all clear and tac­tile. The Blue­tooth pre­sen­ta­tion is ac­cept­able, though un­sur­pris­ingly less trans­par­ent and re­fined than a wired al­ter­na­tive.

When head­phones are plugged in, it’s ob­vi­ous the power sup­ply dis­con­nects from the main am­pli­fier and ded­i­cates it­self solely to the head­phone amp: sound is pow­er­ful, well driven and ton­ally con­sis­tent.

At £700, the One is Cyrus’s most af­ford­able stereo am­pli­fier and, while not the com­plete prod­uct, it’s an at­trac­tive bun­dle of fea­tures, de­sign and per­for­mance. Look­ing for a fuss-free amp with Blue­tooth? Here’s One.

KEY FEA­TURES MM phono stage aptx Blue­tooth Di­men­sions (hwd) 8.5 x 22 x 39cm The Cyrus One is com­pact, but has a con­tem­po­rary and ex­otic look

The Cyrus can also dou­ble as a power amp in a home cin­ema set-up

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