Aimed at the budget market the Cyrus ONE amp packs a lot of features into its diminutive box, allied with the equally budget friendly ONELinear speakers you have a full system for a little over £1000. Ian Ringstead takes a listen. 

I’m very familiar with Cyrus products having sold them for twenty-five years and having owned a CD8 and 780SE speakers when Mission and Cyrus were one company back in the 80’s and 90’s. The original Cyrus One amplifier was very popular and was loved by people because it was so neat and compact, being half width compared to the usual 430mm / 17” boxes. The speakers always proved popular and won many awards being easily accommodated up against a wall. With this new range now thirty-five years on from the original amp and twenty odd for the speakers, Cyrus as a separate company from Mission have put all their experience and know how into a radical new amplifier design and compact pair of speakers.

CONSTRUCTION

Both the amplifier and speakers come well packaged in neat boxes with good internal foam protection, an important point as not all manufacturers do. It’s a bug-bear of mine that manufacturers go to a lot of trouble and expense to design adequate packaging for their product and then customers just throw it away never thinking about the practicalities of keeping it for future use in case they move, servicing or repair maybe required and maximising resale value if sold. I always told my customers this and have followed my own advice religiously. So, rant over with, well done Cyrus for taking the time and effort to protect your product.

The Cyrus ONE amplifier has been reviewd by Hifi Pig before, but as a fresh pair of eyes and ears I will give you the reader my thoughts on it. The amplifier follows the original models form in being half width, with neat minimalist front panel made from polished black acrylic. The main casework is solid and has a textured, rubberised and high-gloss black finish. The front is dominated by the large round volume control and input selector. There is also a 6.35mm headphone jack socket for headphone lovers and a neat power switch. The volume control on the right- hand side has an outer ring of white LEDs that light up when the amp is switched on and as the volume is turned up the LEDs will light up in turn, giving a very clear indication of the level. The left- hand function selector has legends by its right side for the different inputs and each is lit by a white LED when selected. These LEDs are rather bright on full power, but Cyrus have thankfully thought of this and the brightness level can easily be dimmed by pre-set levels using the very compact creditcard sized remote supplied with the unit. I found this feature very handy. The back panel is very busy because there are a lot of inputs and two sets of speaker binding posts per channel. The mains IEC input socket is located next to the left channel speakers binding posts and then centrally on RCA sockets there is the input for a dedicated moving magnet cartridge with an earthing post, four line level inputs including an AV bypass and a set of pre outs for an additional amp for bi-amping or using a more powerful unit, not that the Cyrus ONE lacks power. There is aptX® compatible Bluetooth, a high power, high voltage Class AB headphone facility. App control (iOS and android) with IR remote control, user upgradable firmware allows for updates to the latest firmware for new features.

The Cyrus 3rd generation hybrid Class D amplifier gives an output of 2 x 100W.
SID – Speaker Impedance Detection which cleverly measures the connected speakers and automatically calibrates the amplifier to deliver the best possible performance.  A large toroidal transformer which is the reason this unit is quite heavy, a linear power supply throughout for minimal noise, and eleven separate power supplies to maximise separation of different circuits. Wow, I’m worn out after all that! You can see Cyrus were determined to make this amplifier amazing value for money and feature rich for the modern age.

The ONElinear speakers are a premium loudspeaker system, which were designed to ideally match the Cyrus ONE amplifier, but also providing great performance with a whole range of other audio systems. The ONElinear is engineered with a classically ‘British’ linear frequency response curve. Cyrus wanted a completely neutral sound, so allowing the full character of the music to be revealed. The ONElinear bass/mid driver has a double-wound copper-coated aluminium voice-coil. This is light, and so produces a stronger induced magnetic field, therefore good control is achieved with the lower frequencies. The voice coil is bonded to a carefully profiled KEVLAR cone material. KEVLAR is light and responsive, storing little energy and retaining its shape well, so the audio characteristic is maintained even when pushed hard. The bass response is excellent for a compact design, with speed and accuracy. The tweeter is a textile soft-dome, having an extended frequency response.

The crossover uses high quality electrolytic capacitors to maximise the performance and the cabinet was developed using the latest techniques of advanced computer modelling and delayed cumulative spectral analysis which in English means that the cabinets noise levels are reduced (i.e. resonance) considerably by 35dB below the drive units output. The computer modelling was also used to design the crossover to maximise its performance. The ONE linear is rear-ported and designed to be positioned between 10-30cm from a rear wall. The best bass performance will generally be achieved following this advice, but as always experimentation is advised dependant on individual room situations and equipment choice.

They come finished in either high gloss black, which is what I was sent, or a gloss white, both of which will suit modern environments, and I am sure Cyrus had this in mind getting away from the usual wooden veneer.

SOUND QUALITY

After all the lengthy details of the products design what did they sound like? I used the amp and speakers together for most of the review period but also tried them separately to assess their performance individually.

The Cyrus ONE was no slouch and its hybrid Class D design certainly afforded plenty of power driving the ONE linear speakers effortlessly… or any other speakers I tried including my Audio Physic Avanti iii. I like class D amps and the hybrid design in the Cyrus ONE works very well giving a lively, open presentation that didn’t lose control if not pushed too hard volume wise. I know this because I tried the android app you can download to your mobile to control basic functions and whilst trying the volume out the slider on my screen suddenly shot up increasing the volume to an unpleasant level. I muted the volume hurriedly as I didn’t want to damage the speakers. Fortunately, it hadn’t but it made me go back to the credit card remote which was far more responsive, and I had no issue with that. Applications on mobiles are all well and good but I’ll stick to the standard RC.

I tried Nils Lofgren’s classic album out “Nils Lofgren Acoustic Live” CD and the much-used demo track at shows now “Keith don’t go”. I get why manufacturers use it but when you hear it in nearly every other room it spoils it for me in the show environment. Anyway, the live recording was reproduced exceedingly well on the Cyrus ONE with all the vibrancy intended by the engineer and to give the listener the same experience the audience had that night at the concert (lucky people). Live acoustic recordings for me are a great test of a system as I can relate to them so well as I attend a lot of concerts. It’s the sheer rawness and vitality of the artist in their element who is clearly excited by performing for an audience who appreciate their talent and music. The atmosphere of the concert was clearly conveyed by the Cyrus ONE with all the acoustic clues in place of space, location and depth and the audience in the background lapping it up.

After a few CD’s I thought let’s try the phono stage out. I’m glad I did. I hooked up my Luxman PD300 with my trusty Goldring 1092 mm cartridge as it is a mm only input on the amp and spun Kate Bush’s last album of her live concerts in Hammersmith in 2014 “Before the dawn”. I love her music and this concert conveys the atmosphere on the nights she performed. The audience are muted somewhat in the sound mix which quite a few fans criticised, but I don’t mind, it’s down to personal taste like anything. A personal favourite is “Running Up That Hill” with its intro of the keyboard effects and the drumming building up with Kate’s superb vocals piercing the soundscape having great urgency about them. It’s another track I never tire of hearing or being moved by. The Cyrus ONE handled this album well and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it in its entirety. So, the mm input is well designed and compares favourably with other amps I have used with a built-in phono stage in its price range. Certainly, for those folks who buy this amp and don’t want the hassle of an add on phono stage its ideal as it won’t let the side down and fulfils the designers’ intentions.

Included in the review package was the Google Chromecast package. Cyrus teamed up with Google and TIDAL, enabling the customer the chance to enjoy an almost limitless library of bit-perfect, CD quality music. The Chromecast unit is small and easy to use and anybody familiar with it already will appreciate its abilities. I connected it up to the amp and tried the Tidal website out with the promotional offer streaming CD quality music straight through the system. It is an easy and convenient way to sample music before you buy it and can save a small fortune in disappointing purchases. Oh, how often have I bought an album on the strength of one track I liked or a recommendation only to be gutted by the sound or music on the rest of the album. I personally don’t listen to streamed music all the time, especially through my system at home, but I find it very useful on my mobile with Amazon Prime music to sample albums before committing to buying any. The facility worked seamlessly, and the results sonically were fine, showing how variable music can sound and I have to say a lot of modern music/artists don’t do it for me. Call me old fashioned but if I like an artist enough I will support them by buying the CD or LP as I like the physical connection and ownership.

The last feature I tried on the amp was the headphone stage. Cyrus are proud of this feature in their promo material and are aiming it specifically I reckon at people who are into sound on the move using headphones but who also may well want to chill out in the evening at home without disturbing the rest of the household or neighbours. If you are a big headphone fan anyway then fine. I used my Sennheiser Momentum 2’s which I use every day at work for chilling at lunchtime, but don’t use that much at home preferring to listen to my speakers. The headphone stage is certainly good and drove my Momentum’s easily, giving a clear and articulate sound with solid bass, clear detailed midrange and sweet highs, a feature of the Momentums I really like. I didn’t have any other headphones to hand, but I am sure the results will be similar with any good design.

As Cyrus state the ONElinear was specifically designed to match the Cyrus ONE amp and that certainly bore out in my listening. They reminded size-wise of my old 780SE’s, but this new design is bang up to date. I set them up on my trusty Atacama Nexus stands to give them a good foundation and located them about 45cm from front wall of my living room.  Running in time was not a major issue and I soon liked what I heard. Neutrality is what Cyrus wanted to achieve and although it’s hard to say that that is the case (think of monitors like ATC) they certainly entertained me. They were quick and agile with a lively open sound like the Cyrus ONE amp with no nasties affecting the overall presentation. Imagery and depth were good but not holographic like my much more expensive Audio Physics and the bass was obviously limited by the cabinet size and design. This is not a criticism, just an observation and in the context of the price range and systems it will be used in, the ONElinear performs very well. I have high standards and having listened to hundreds if not thousands of speakers over the last 45 years I can soon tell if I like a speaker design or not. The ONElinear doesn’t disappoint. As mentioned earlier in this review the music I used was conveyed in the same manor as the Cyrus ONE amp. That is, albums came over convincingly with good depth and imagery between the speaker’s, but unlike some more expensive designs, lacked that extra magic of greater width and depth. The fact the ONElinear is only £349 is a real credit as it performs very well in its class. The bass won’t plumb the depths of the lower registers, but it doesn’t try to show off and try too hard sticking to the design brief of accuracy and control. The mid- range was clear on vocals with no real issues and the treble was not harsh, being well controlled. I acclimatised to the ONElinear easily as they did indeed sound good to my ears and very entertaining too… not all highly neutral systems are enjoyable believe me. Accuracy is a double-edged sword. Like a high-quality camera lens, it shows up in super detail warts and all (the faults as well as the good bits which the human ear may or may not tolerate dependant on the individual). Trying the ONElinear on another amp my MYST TMA3 conveyed similar results so confirming Cyrus’ claim that they will perform well in other systems.

CONCLUSION

This is a lengthy review only because these two products, especially the amp pack a lot of modern technology and design into them and I didn’t want to sell the manufacturer short on their benefits. Cyrus are to be applauded for these innovative products aimed at both new customers to our exciting hobby and older ones like myself keen to see great value for money product being offered to the masses. Cyrus know their customers well and thoroughly researched the market to come up with two exciting products.

AT A GLANCE

Cyrus ONE

Build Quality: Very good for the budget, the amp is well made and specified.

Sound Quality: Powerful and lively presentation

Value for Money: Great value given all the features and facilities on offer.

Pros: Feature rich, remote control, good mm input, great headphone output, powerful and compact.

Cons: Remote is neat but being so small could easily be lost. Android app is ok, but I prefer the standard remote.

Price: £699 

ONElinear

Build Quality: Very good for the budget, well presented and nicely put together.

Sound Quality: Powerful and lively presentation that is easy to get on with.

Value for Money: Great value compared to its competition.

Pros:  Good sound that for the budget won’t disappoint and a neat compact design easy to position.

Cons: The black lacquered finish although smart looking shows up dust and finger prints like mad.

Price: £349

Ian Ringstead

Review Equipment: Luxman PD300 turntable, Jelco 750 arm, Goldring G1092, Marantz SA11 S2 sacd player, Myst TMA 3 integrated amp ,  Audio Physic Avanti iii, TQ Ultra Black speaker cable and Way silver RCA’s, Hifi Racks podium slimline.

Specifications

Cyrus ONE

Connectivity

– Built-in MM Phono stage
– aptX® compatible Bluetooth
– Pre-outputs – for connection to separate power amps
– 4 line level inputs – Including AV Bypass
– High power, high voltage class AB headphone
– Bi-wire compatible speaker binding posts

Control

– App control (iOS and android)

– IR remote control
– User upgradable firmware – updates to the latest firmware
for new features in your own home

Technical Specifications

– Cyrus 3rd generation hybrid Class D amplifier – outputs 2 x 100W
– SID – Speaker Impedance Detection
– Large toroidal transformer – linear power supply throughout for minimal noise
– Eleven separate power supplies – to maximise separation of different circuits

Dimensions & Finish

– Dimensions: (H X W X D) – 85 x 220 x 390mm
– Weight – 5.72kg
– Textured, rubberised and high gloss black finish

ONElinear

Nominal impedance – 8 Ω
Sensitivity (2.83V@1m) – 86 dB
Recommended amplifier power – 20 – 120 W
Frequency response (±3dB) – 50Hz-24kHz
Crossover frequency – 2.1kHz

Cabinet volume – 11l
Bass driver – 5” (125mm) Woven kevlar cone
Treble driver – 1” (25mm) soft dome
Dimensions (H x W x D) – 305 x 200 x 295 mm
Net weight – 14 kg (per pair)

Copyright Hifi Pig 

No part of this review may be published in part or in full without the prior consent of the editor of Hifi Pig 

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