Cyrus CDi-XR CD Player Review

Posted on 10th March, 2022

Cyrus CDi-XR CD Player Review

Jay Garrett samples this latest silver disc spinner from an esteemed British hi-fi brand…

Cyrus Audio

CDi-XR CD Player

£2,195

Cyrus CDi-XR Review

It's no accident that Cyrus Compact Disc players have been winning plaudits and awards over the past few decades since the 1994 launch of the handsome, top-loading dAD7. Two standout features distinguish them from their many, more anodyne rivals – the beautiful diecast aluminium casework, which debuted on the Cyrus 3 integrated amplifier, and – more recently – the Servo Evolution transport mechanism.

The latter was launched in 2008 in order to eliminate the need for Cyrus to buy in outsourced optical disc mechs, which were – even then – getting harder to source and poorer in quality. Thanks to its high-quality components and the company's own custom disc-reading software, it delivered excellent results. Models such as the CDXt SE, CD6SE, CD8SE all use this transport – and have proved highly popular as a result.

Cyrus is bullish about its success; a little bird there told me that there's possibly no room for improvement to the forty year old optical digital disc format “if you are wanting to keep the price in a certain bracket. We have developed the best sounding CD players at the price – and this is why we continue to have a CDi and CDt in our line-up.”

Recently though, the company has launched a third tier to its product portfolio, the more audiophile-oriented XR range that sits above the existing Classic series where you'll find the CDi and CDt. The XR range sees further tweaks and refinements made to the DAC and power supply, as well as updated manufacturing processes, we are told. Additionally, engineers were apparently free to select higher grade components regardless of cost for the new series.

UP CLOSE

The new XR range consists of two integrated amplifiers, a preamp, an outboard power supply, and two CD playing components – a CD transport and the subject of this review, the neat looking £2,195 CDi-XR player.

Like its immediate predecessors, it uses the company's signature slot-loading system. The reason for using this is that Cyrus comments that many tray-loading mechanisms are built around more cost-effective plastic mouldings with very wide tolerances. However, I'm told that the slot-loader is a precision piece made (largely) from closely toleranced metal components – a cheap computer DVD-ROM part it is not.

Once loaded, the CD is then read by the Servo Evolution engine. This, I am reliably informed, ensures the data is read right the first time rather than leaning heavily on error correction or “nervous servos” that cause current spikes in the power supplies, which can affect sonic performance. Importantly, this gets its own microprocessor, while an additional one takes care of the user interface and other general housekeeping. This design prevents crucial timing information from being interrupted by the processor being asked to do other things.

Of course, the headline news of the CDi-XR is the second-generation 32-bit QXR DAC platform. Naturally, some might query why a 16-bit medium requires a 32-bit DAC. However, the DAC carries out oversampling and digital decimation filtering, so carrying these functions out with 32-bit precision means that superior audio performance can be achieved. There is also a new power supply and bespoke transformers explicitly designed for the new CD players, making the class-leading SE CD engine even quieter, says Cyrus.

Those less interested in what's under the hood will have noticed a new black and white LCD display which I find much easier to read than the classic green models. The smarter-looking and more up-to-date fascia control buttons are also a neat touch – or at least they should be. I had about a ninety percent success rate on my review unit of hitting the button once and being rewarded with the associated action. In this age of swipeable touchscreens and hidden fingerprint readers, these seemingly well-made buttons should have a one hundred percent guarantee – especially on a new unit such as this. Thankfully, I don't see this as a deal-breaker as the slick, backlit full feature remote control covers everything and will likely be the go-to for most users; it certainly was for me.

Cyrus CDi-XR Review

Meanwhile, around the rear of the unit, you'll find two pairs of RCA stereo analogue outputs, coaxial and optical digital outs, and the MC-Bus connections that let your family of Cyrus components – should you have one – synchronise things such as powering on/off. The standard power socket means you can use an upgraded third party power cable, although do be careful with your choice. I offered it one of Tellurium Q's models, but the chunky Furutech connector obstructed the RCA outputs of the player. Thankfully, the more slender IsoTek power leads were easily accommodated.

You'll also find a socket for Cyrus's new outboard power supply unit, the £1,995 PSU-XR. The external PSU entirely bypasses the analogue rails, CD motors and PLL – all critical parts which will benefit from the higher capacity that comes from a physically larger PSU. This harks back to the very first Mission Cyrus Two integrated amplifier from the early eighties, which offered an optional PSX power supply in a matching box as an easy upgrade.

The Cyrus CDi-XR spent plenty of time in my reference system, featuring Gryphon amplification and Audiovector floorstanding speakers. However, it was also partnered with more price compatible components in the MOON 250i and Naim Nait XS3 integrated amplifiers, with JBL Classic L52 and Focal Aria 906 stand-mounted speakers.

THE LISTENING

I love my Oppo UDP-205. It's an excellent disc spinner, and many people like myself are running it almost five years after its release because it is still hard to better for the price. However, purely on CD playing chops, the CDi-XR has turned my head. In fact, dynamically, there were numerous occasions where it left my trusty Oppo standing.

Cyrus CDi-XR Review

While clarity is one of the CDi-XR's definite strong points, it's the way in which it delivers detail that really gets me. This CD player sounds articulate and expressive – basslines are crisply focused and have plenty of weight, for example. Notably, Duran Duran's Rio swaggered confidently, propelled by John Taylor's fingers. But where low-down heft could muddy the waters, the Cyrus presents authority and punch more in the style of a kung-fu master than a town-end doorman. As a result, you get agility, speed and finesse rather than just the hope of a one-punch knockout.

The thing is, it's not just the upfront stuff that it does well with. Playing Dead Cities by The Future Sound of London, the CDi-XR reminded me why this mid-nineties album still resonates with me. It manages to bring together the atmosphere of both the PC games and stark dystopian sci-fi films I was addicted to at the time. The sound effects, panning and samples were presented anew, with the sounds rendered with precision. Although analytical – in so much as getting every bit of information out of the format as possible – it was less 'lab coat and pocket protector' than that would imply!

There is an overriding sense of musicality about how this little box goes about things. It has heaps of energy and drive, allowing the likes of Mr Big's Addicted to That Rush to cut loose in all its late eighties rock flamboyance while still keeping things organised and fluent. Although, this recording and a few others did highlight that even though there was punch, thinner recordings aren't bulked out artificially.

Cyrus CDi-XR Review

Péter Eötvös conducting Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring was nothing short of remarkable through the Cyrus CD player. This is where I pushed play on the remote and just enjoyed the entire experience. Here I heard all the points I had noted before, but now I could add soundstaging that was multilayered with instrumentation being practically visible in my mind's eye. Those dynamics were even more incredible with an orchestra in play, especially in Pt. 2: The Sacrifice with strings suddenly giving way to brass and percussion and, when they do return, it's as vicious stabs and whirling crescendos. However, no matter how fraught or frenetic the music got, the CDi-XR never seemed flustered. Instead, it consistently delivered drama when required and refinement when requested.

Of course, the same goes for well-recorded contemporary fare, too, such as TOOL's Fear Inoculum, which again highlighted the amount of detail retrieval that the CDi-XR is capable of that also adds to its dynamic performance. After all, how can you have stunning dynamics without those precise leading edges and natural-sounding decay?

THE VERDICT

Overall then, the Cyrus CDi-XR is a class act – and no mistake. It delivers heaps of dynamic insight with musicality and refinement. Lovers of orchestral pieces will enjoy its unflustered handling of even the most challenging arrangements, whereas rockers will raise their horns in adoration for its speed and punch. Rock-solid rhythmics and eloquent elocution should have everyone else accounted for, too. If you are in the market for an affordable audiophile CD player where super sound quality meets style, you will kick yourself for not checking this out.

Visit Cyrus Audio for more information

    Gallery

      Jay Garrett's avatar

      Jay Garrett

      StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

      Posted in:Hi-Fi Sources CD Player Applause Awards 2022
      Tags: cyrus  cyrus audio 

      JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION

      Want to share your opinion or get advice from other enthusiasts? Then head into the Message Forums where thousands of other enthusiasts are communicating on a daily basis.
      CLICK HERE FOR FREE MEMBERSHIP

      00007730