REVIEW: CYRUS ONE HD COMPACT INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER
We have been spending some time with the latest compact offering from Cyrus Audio. The Cyrus ONE HD is the DAC-enabled follow-up to the company's Cyrus ONE.
The UK audio company's 2016's Cyrus One was named after the brand's first product back in the 1980s. When the One was launched a couple of years ago, featuring the typical Cyrus 'shoebox' trademark shape, it gained many fans for its quality, size and price point. Can the new kid on the block get the same love with an added £300 premium?
With the Cyrus ONE HD, you reap the benefits of digital connectivity, Bluetooth AptX HD and, more importantly, the new HD suffix is a nod to the claim of superior sound.
I will state this now, but I do like how the Cyrus ONE HD looks. It isn't just its unusual form-factor that helps it to stand out from all the other black hi-fi kit currently sat on my rack either.
Cyrus ONE HD
Firstly, the glossy black plastic fascia is very shiny and, just in case you didn't spot it the first time, you get a brace of large, LED-dotted matte black dials. It's kinda like a ninja that can't help wearing bling.
Build quality is top-notch as I turned the 5.6 Kg amplifier around in my hands. The metal case is solid, and the plastic front is pretty slick, although, there are some sharp edges. Saying that, how often do you hold your amp?
On my visual tour of the ONE HD, it struck me just how many connectivity options Cyrus has managed to cram into the rear panel. Bookending the I/O panel, are two sets of speaker terminals for bi-wiring. Digital input is taken care of by optical, coaxial/SPDIF and Type-B asynchronous USB. These inputs all go through the onboard ESS 32-bit DAC.
The Asynchronous USB handles up to 32/192 and DSD 64 and 128. The Coax and Toslink options both managing 24/192.
For cable-free connections, there is also the latest aptX HD Bluetooth which is pitched as being better than CD quality.
Analogue hook-ups include a passive RIAA MM phono stage that Cyrus has separated from the main circuit for a lower noise floor.
Then there are three line level inputs, including an AV integration option that can be configured with a fixed gain to be used as part of a home cinema system. Finally, there is also a pre-out if you fancied adding a power amp.
Around the front, you'll find a 6.35mm headphone jack that plugs into the Class AB headphone amp.
The 4th generation Cyrus Class D amp is rated at 100W per channel into 6 ohms, this is fed by a large toroidal linear power supply.
Additionally, the ONE HD is kitted out with SID (Speaker Impedance Detection). SID automagically measures the impedance of the connected speakers and then optimises its output accordingly.
The Cyrus ONE HD certainly has a lot going for it. I can already see it as the cornerstone of a compact system not only running a turntable and taking care of streaming duties but also dishing out movie soundtracks and game console effects all with equal vigour.
Cyrus ONE HD sound quality
I'd better get it all connected and see what it's got then, in that case. For the majority of testing, I had the ONE HD hooked up to an Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA BT turntable with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, Oppo UDP-205 (bypassing its own DAC), my Panasonic HD TV, and Honor Mate 20 Pro smartphone for streaming as well as using the Cyrus ONE remote app. The amp is so compact; I even used it in my PC system that usually puts the small Musical Fidelity V90 Amp and V90 DAC to use. Speakers used included Q Acoustics 2020i, Kralk TDB-2 and, mostly for the hell of it, the Auris Poison 8 floor-standers.
Taking a USB feed from my trusty Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, I selected 'Christine' from The House of Love. The track came through lush with plenty of texture in the vocals and accompanying instruments. The typically 90s treatment on the snare cracks through as sharply as it should without any bittiness or breaking.
Moving over to spin some black plastic on the Elipson deck, the Cyrus did a decent job with Def Leppard's 'Hysteria' reissue from last year. I have spent 30 years with the likes of 'Pour some sugar on me' 'Rocket', and 'Animal' and so have heard these tracks on umpteen systems. It is a little unfair at the moment as I have some rather upmarket phono kit in to review, but the ONE HD is musical and entertaining. Slipping on another 2017 reissue, this time Leftfield's 'Leftism', and dialling up the volume brings the Cyrus/Kralk team alive. If I was in my teens or early 20s would I be happy playing records on this? Yes, yes I would muchly thank you.
Talking of teens, and I am making a massive assumption that teens and music fans in their 20s are a critical demographic for the ONE HD, it's time to stream.
Pairing my Mate 20 Pro with the Cyrus is a sinch. Selecting Tidal and The Prodigy's latest offering 'No Tourists' that I've been listening to for the last couple of days is my first port of call. 'Champions of London' sounds huge and takes me right back to the excitement I felt when I first heard 'Jilted Generation'. As fun as this is, this album isn't one for subtle nuances though. So, it's over to Joni Mitchell and the wonderful track 'Song to a Seagull'. Quite a jump but I am nothing if not eclectic. The acoustic guitar is clear and resonant; real. Joni's vocals are expressive and, whether-or-not this is better than CD quality aside, it holds me through 'Blue', 'Woodstock', and 'Coyote' before having to force myself to continue working.
However, before moving on, I played 'Come Back and Stay (2008 remaster)' having seen Paul Young in concert recently. This experience was on another level. I cranked up the ONE HD, and the Kralks loved it. Bass was full, imaging was awesome and vocals clear. All the synth parts that can become veiled were as they should be. If you ever wanted to convince an 'audiophile' that Bluetooth streamed music can be engaging, grab one of these little Cyrus units, a pair of TDB-2 and a phone with aptX HD.
The DAC also puts on a sterling performance with CDs too. I was expecting a night and day difference to what I have become accustomed to with the UDP-205 and the little Cyrus. However, and this is a testament to the engineers at Cyrus, it sounds bloody good.
Cyrus ONE Remote app
The free app is straightforward enough to use. Once you've downloaded it onto your smart device, open it up with your ONE HD switched on, and the app will sniff out the amp. The name of your amp will appear on the screen. Tap that, and you arrive at the remote control.
At the very top of this screen are the controls to make the ONE HD's LEDs brighter or dimmer. The rest of the virtual buttons are for source selection. Down at the bottom is a volume bar and this was my only niggle. I could not for the life of me get the volume past midway using the remote, so that meant me getting out of my chair. No biggy, just annoying when I'd settled down with a beer. You can also mute the system using the button just below the volume bar.
Finally, there are some EQ settings to play with.
All very neat and uncomplicated - just as we like it.
Setting out on this journey with my first Cyrus review, I was not sure what to expect. All the units I've heard previously have been from their much-lauded separates stable. When I was asked to review the ONE HD, I looked online at it and was curious; but without that eager anticipation one gets when waiting for something you know you're going to love. On removing it from its packaging and feeling the weight (mostly from that toroidal power supply) I realised that it wasn't going to be a flimsy performer. However, I was not prepared for what I discovered after living with it for a while.
I wish to declare my love for the fantastic little light-up shoebox. Yes, I would've preferred more resistance from the dials but, sonically, I cannot fault it. Heck, I'd buy one solely for its Bluetooth chops let alone all the other options it offers. But, when you do add in, bi-wiring capabilities, MM phono stage, a really decent headphone amp, plentiful digital and analogue hook-ups all wrapped up in a tidy, compact package, what's not to love?
The Cyrus ONE HD is on sale now for £995. For more information, head on over to Cyrus.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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