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