What is the Cyrus Streaming Starter Pack?
As luck would have it, the NAD C338 has just passed through the review progress which has its Chromecast on board giving us a point of comparison to this combination and the Cyrus itself was around at the same time as the Rega Brio which will appear presently and – as a sneak preview – is very good indeed. As such, we can see if the package itself makes sense and we can also go on to work out where the ONE sits relative to these two amps and does it earn our endorsement if you happen to reading this in 2018?
In specification terms, the ONE doesn’t take the ‘rubber mat’ approach of reminding you how much more you could have if you’d bought a ‘proper’ Cyrus either. In terms of connectivity, you get four line level inputs, a moving magnet phono stage and its Apt-X capable Bluetooth. This is joined by A-B speaker terminals and a stereo preout. There are no digital inputs – you’ll have to look at the Cyrus 6 integrated for that – but there are enough connections here to assemble a fairly comprehensive system. There’s also a 6.3mm headphone socket with a Class A/B headphone amp.
The big difference between the ONE and its more expensive brethren is the amplification stage. The ONE uses a Class D power amp section that provides it with a healthy 100 watts, albeit when measured into a six rather than an eight ohm load. The impedance of the speakers (provided they aren’t too absurd) is something that the Cyrus studies on start-up and adjusts the output to best handle them. This should alleviate a criticism levelled (rather generally it must be said) at Class D amps that they can sound strained with some speakers because they don’t impedance-match as closely as Class A/B designs. It is also worth noting that this is not the first Class D product from Cyrus either so the company has some experience in this area.
This particular ONE and Chromecast was supplied with a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 11.1 speakers. This takes the pack price to a neat £1,000 and means you get everything you need to have a functioning system. This is being done by some of the dealers participating in the offer and the speakers they are using will depend in part on which brands they sell. Other dealers are simply offering the ONE with Chromecast for £700, allowing you to choose speakers accordingly.
The ONE is driven by two rotary controls – one for input and one for volume. These are both free to rotate indefinitely but in both cases this doesn’t deliver the results you might expect. The input selector will rotate cheerfully around and around but the inputs themselves won’t cycle around to the start again and you have to reverse direction to go back. The volume control conversely is extremely low geared and increasing and decreasing the volume requires several rotations to make a meaningful adjustment. It’s far from the end of the world but the controls don’t seem terribly well integrated. This isn’t helped by the remote being a tiny card type unit that flirts with being lost the moment it leaves the box. In defence of Cyrus, for an extra £50 you can buy an ‘iR14’ handset that is both larger and harder to lose and has significant system driving possibilities.
The Chromecast is a small plastic disc and really there isn’t a huge amount more to be said about it than that. For the low asking price, it feels perfectly OK and it is simple to hide away behind the amp if you need. The audio output is only on a 3.5mm connection but Cyrus supplies a cable in the box to get you up and running.
How was the Streaming Starter Pack tested?
In terms of the definitively Cyrus bits, this is an amplifier that has a sense of get up and go from very low levels all the way through to the upper reaches of the volume range (at which point levels are firmly antisocial) there is an immediacy and drive that pulls you in and engages at an emotional level. The music in question doesn’t need to be especially quick – something like Nocturnal Sunshine’s Down by the River with its loping 130bpm signature shows it to good effect – it simply delivers everything in a compellingly immediate way.
The bass response is also excellent. To be clear, all three pairs of speakers I’ve used it with are small but the Spendor and Acoustic Energy in particular respond to amps with decent bass response and it is clear that the Cyrus is well endowed in this regard. The bass itself is also rather more than a dull shove. It is taught and well defined and has impressive tonal detail. This detail retrieval also continues further up the frequency response with the ONE digging out little nuances to Brandon Flowers’ Between Me and You that can sometimes be lost.
Some elements of the ONE are also typically Cyrus but may or may not be less desirable. While I would hesitate to describe this as a bright amplifier – it can be impressively warm and refined across the bulk of the midrange – it will pick up on thinner material and can sound slightly unforgiving especially as the volume rises. The soundstage is also relatively constrained which has mixed results for material. Barns Courtney’s The Attractions of Youth sounds potent, exciting and direct while the more three dimensional It’s Nearly Tomorrow by Craig Armstrong sounds a little squashed compared to some similarly priced rivals.
Of course, the Cyrus has two features as standard that rather help its flexibility. The performance of the Bluetooth input is genuinely excellent and does mean that if you happen to be reading this after this particular offer has ended, the ONE still has a pretty strong way of accessing content even without the Chromecast. It also has a phono stage that offers excellent performance. It isn’t as tonally ‘sweet’ or spacious as the one in the Rega Brio but it has a low noise floor and works with the propulsive presentation of the amp to sound consistently entertaining. It monsters its way through Youth and Young Manhood by the Kings of Leon doing a fine job of delivering the album with the fury it needs.
What is no less impressive is that the performance of the Cyrus with the Wharfedales is also extremely appealing. If your budget tops out at a grand, you could do a lot worse and some of the other speakers that dealers have partnered their offerings with look promising too. On a recent ‘trip out’ to a dealer, the ONE was partnered with the KEF LS50 and this was excellent. Ultimately, the ONE has enough power to work happily with pretty much any speaker under £2,000 and some of the recent candidates we’ve looked at will work well. The key to this is the ‘Starter Pack.’ This has the bits you need to get going but the ONE itself is more than strong enough to cope with significant upgrades to the source and speakers. Should you be looking at the ONE on its own, it will deliver a strong performance with a range of components and the partnership with the Sonica was extremely good as well as usefully compact.
- Potent and lively performance
- Usefully flexible
- Plenty of power
- Can be slightly forward
- Cheap remote
- Some performance limits to Chromecast
Cyrus Audio ONE Integrated Amplifier Review
If you’re reading this after the event, the good news is that a ONE might well be for life rather than Christmas. This is an amplifier that sounds consistently potent and entertaining. It never fails to engage the listener and while there might be fractionally more spacious and refined rivals, they often have to give ground to the sheer fun factor of the ONE. Throw in the excellent phono stage and Bluetooth and you have an integrated amp that earns enthusiastic recommendation.
Ease of use
Value for money
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