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MajorFubar's picture
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Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

 

I picked up a flaking 'for parts / not working' Cyrus Two amp off eBay well-over a year ago.  It's a 'type 7', one of the last from the early 1990s, with a metal chassis, flick on/off switch and no headphone socket.  Seller reported 'No sound'. I've got an unused One that I had as my main amp before I bought the PM66KI, so I thought hey, it's cheap, why not?  The pre-amp worked fine and ever since I bought it I've been using it purely as a phono-stage for my T/T which is located too far away from my main AV unit to connect it directly to the Marantz's 'phono' input.

Anyhow, with a bit of time on my hands this past week I figured I'd strip the tatty thing down to find out what's up with it.  I should have guessed ages ago, seeing that the blanking-plug over the PSX socket is missing: no fuses to the power-amp! At some point it's been mated with a PSX and so the fuses had been removed. Google revealed that I needed 2 x 20mm 3.15A quick-blow fuses, which were easily sourced in packs of ten down at my local Maplin's for £2.09.

So, with the amp now up and running (and all the switches and pots cleaned-up with switch-cleaner…it would have been daft not to do this while the top was already off) I thought meh…let's give it a listen!

I wanted to uncouple as little as possible from my Marantz amp because plugging it all up again is a major PITA, largely on account of the fact that my AV cabinet doesn't grant me any fiddle-room, plus I've cable-tied all the interconnects to keep them tidy. Therefore I settled on just unplugging the speaker cables from the Marantz and limiting my testing purely to music ripped to my Mac, seeing that running a spare interconnect from the HRT Streamer II+ to the Cyrus Two would be reasonably painless and wouldn't need any other cables to be torn out from anywhere.

First track I played was Squeeze's old classic, Take Me I'm Yours, the first track on their Greatest Hits CD. I don't think I was prepared for how great it was going to sound.  Yes, not as warm and inviting as the Marantz…but the mid-band…oh that mid-band…everything so crisp, clear and absolutely precise. Some would no-doubt say 'clinically precise' or 'too analytical', and yes I can see why they would say that. If I didn't already have Alesis active speakers in my home studio, this would make a fantastic amp for monitoring, because you really feel you can hear everything that's going on.

Next up, I tried the title track from Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms CD (late 80s pressing). The thunder at 0:14  cracked across a wide, open soundstage and the guitars were so easily and precisely placed. As Mark Knopfler's vocals come in, if you listen really carefully you can occasionally hear what seems to be a closed hi-hat being struck gently to keep time in the background.  I have never before heard this on anything but headphones. As the drums and bass came in at around 2:10, I did feel that perhaps it was lacking a little weight, but nothing major. It didn't really sound lightweight.

Switching to Spotify, I ran through a few tracks on Enya's most recent album from 2008, And Winter Came…, notably the gentle yet wide and expressive title track and My! My! Time Flies.  Again, what a fantastic sense of scale and space.

Still on Spotify, I hunted down the 2012 re-recording of Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush.  Definitely no sense that the drums or bass were being underplayed here: it absolutely rattled out.  In fact it was only spoiled from around 2:30 as the song gets really busy; I felt that the vocals were starting to get 'shouty' and I headed to the volume control to take it down a notch. But that said, this is a trait of my speakers as much as anything else, they too can sometimes throw the music at you, so I don't really feel I can fully blame the amp.

A more sedate final track for my short audition, I headed to the excellence of John Williams for his rendition of Cavatina, from the 1995 compilation CD Instrumental Moods. With nothing to challenge the amp's (or my speakers') composure, this track was presented with all the subtlety and precision you could ask for, with the individual notes of the two multitracked guitars being clearly discernible, despite the fact that Williams' producer chose to mix them into the same acoustic space in the soundstage.

In short this is an absolutely excellent amplifier which really seems to be able to expose every layer of a mix clearly, separately and precisely, and across a very wide and deep soundstage. Its weakness is that with the wrong speakers (and I have to say, mine included) the upper mid-band can be a touch too forceful, leaving you with the feeling that the music is being thrown at you and that it needs just a bit more slam.  Time for a PSX? (well actually I've been looking for ages; the 'right' one is not easy to find on its own).

If you read this far, thanks for your time.

 

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

Sounds like a little gem I nearly bought one many years ago but I went for an onkyo as 2 tape  loops and 2 pairs of speakers required and the onkyo was also a very good amp:)

Smile :)

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

Good job Major....I remember not liking the Mission Cyrus 11 of the 80s; I was more of an A&R A60 person. 

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

CnoEvil wrote:

Good job Major....I remember not liking the Mission Cyrus 11 of the 80s; I was more of an A&R A60 person. 

I found the A&R a bit to warm for me mind you the onkyo was slightly bright I managed to tame it with a pair of tannnoy M20golds funny when you look back at your choices I often wonder what if  Sorry guys I started to ramble on

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

toyota man wrote:

I found the A&R a bit to warm for me mind you the onkyo was slightly bright I managed to tame it with a pair of tannnoy M20golds funny when you look back at your choices I often wonder what if  Sorry guys I started to ramble on

It is a bit warm, but I didn't like the Cyrus, or the original Naim Nait, so it's what I ended up with.

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

I remember auditioning the A60 myself. I was using a pair of mkII Wharfedale Diamonds at the time and I found the A60 a bit dull and lifeless with them, partly because the Audax tweeters in the speakers weren't exactly the last word in an excitment. I *think* it was about this time that I ended up buying a JVC AX-440 amp from Brian Mill's catalogue, basically because I was an impoverished student and I could buy it on the never-never, plus the fact that a college friend had given me an Ortofon MC10 Super and I needed an amp with a MC input. But to be honest I hated that amp.  It sounded rubbish, a fact that was made even more clear when the lad who gave me the MC10 lent me his Cyrus 1 for a week. (I remember it distinctly: it was one of the early ones with the 1/4" headphone socket at the back and an orange push-button on/off at the front.)

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

Hi MajorFubar

Better later then never  :grin: Anyway joking apart nice one as the Cyrus 2 is a good amplifier. From what i understand (with turntables being a strong source component back in the 80's) the Cyrus 2 had its somewhat upfront presentation to help the amplifier achieve a good balance with the 'warmth' of vinyl. 

Btw, adding a PSX to the Cyrus 2 makes worthwhile difference as this combination will give more and better quality of power, transparency and a much tighter, faster and dynamic sound.

All the best 

Rick @ Musicraft

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

MUSICRAFT wrote:

Hi MajorFubar

Better later then never  :grin: Anyway joking apart nice one as the Cyrus 2 is a good amplifier. From what i understand (with turntables being a strong source component back in the 80's) the Cyrus 2 had its somewhat upfront presentation to help the amplifier achieve a good balance with the 'warmth' of vinyl. 

Btw, adding a PSX to the Cyrus 2 makes worthwhile difference as this combination will give more and better quality of power, transparency and a much tighter, faster and dynamic sound.

All the best 

Rick @ Musicraft

I had a Cyrus II with the PSX, beore my current set-up and agree with Rick that the PSX makes a huge difference to the amp's sound. It adds 20 watts per channel, for a start, and that extra juice lets the amp have better control of the speakers. It has a whole lot exta 'oomph', although to be honest, it still is quite a bright amp. In my set up I found it actually painful to listen to certain albums that were anywhere near brightly mastered (Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, for one). But, in it's favour, I found it very detailed and absolutely brilliant at producing realistic vocals and acoustic music.

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

MajorFubar wrote:

I remember auditioning the A60 myself. I was using a pair of mkII Wharfedale Diamonds at the time and I found the A60 a bit dull and lifeless with them, partly because the Audax tweeters in the speakers weren't exactly the last word in an excitment. 

After the A60, I ended up with Naim 42/110/Snaps....which was much better.

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

Yes there's definitely an art to getting a balanced sound from it; partnering it with just the right speakers is essential, and my 794s are not the right speakers. I can also imagine that a lot of modern compressed recordings would be unlistenable because I can tell that it wouldn't take kindly to bad masters. 

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

CnoEvil wrote:

MajorFubar wrote:

I remember auditioning the A60 myself. I was using a pair of mkII Wharfedale Diamonds at the time and I found the A60 a bit dull and lifeless with them, partly because the Audax tweeters in the speakers weren't exactly the last word in an excitment. 

After the A60, I ended up with Naim 42/110/Snaps....which was much better.

No doubt the A60 would have absolutely shone with brighter sounding speakers, but my Diamonds were just simply a bad match. 
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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

I have seen these Cyrus 2 Mission amp on occasions and wondered how they differed from the modern equivalent. Can fully understand when you mention about uncovering layers.

When WHFI did a 'Reader Rescue' round my gaffe Joe and Chris brought in the 8VS2. It sounded wonderful with vocals, but wasn't sure it was an amp I could live with TBH. Some weeks later I blagged a dem 8 from a shop and decided, over a two day period, on long term the Cyrus wasn't to my taste, although I totally 'get' why people love them.

Out of interest, is the Mission the same company that makes the speakers?

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

It was. Cyrus was a sub-brand belonging to Mission, then some years ago in a strange twist to the tail they separated after the company was rescued/bought out. 

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

I bought a new Cyrus 2 back in 1993 (I think).  It was a lte model with the black case.  It was paired with a Rotel RCD965BX and some KEF K series speakers.  The Rotel and the KEFs were a match made in heaven with the Cyrus.  That really was a fantastic system as I remember, and even now I sometimes wish I still had it.

Very little I have heard can inject life into a piece of music like the Cyrus 2.  It wasn't bass light but somewhat dry, so needed some warmish speakers to temper it's forward nature.  But with rock and dance it absolutely kicked.

built like a brick @@@@house too.

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

plastic penguin wrote:

I have seen these Cyrus 2 Mission amp on occasions and wondered how they differed from the modern equivalent. Can fully understand when you mention about uncovering layers.

When WHFI did a 'Reader Rescue' round my gaffe Joe and Chris brought in the 8VS2. It sounded wonderful with vocals, but wasn't sure it was an amp I could live with TBH. Some weeks later I blagged a dem 8 from a shop and decided, over a two day period, on long term the Cyrus wasn't to my taste, although I totally 'get' why people love them.

Out of interest, is the Mission the same company that makes the speakers?

Yes mission snd cyrus split to make speakers(mission) amps (cyrus) many years ago late 80s early 90 I think I am sure some one will give day date year but they say your memory is the first thing to go What was the question?:) Smile

0

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RE: Cyrus 2 review...only 20-or-so years too late!

jockey.wilson wrote:

Very little I have heard can inject life into a piece of music like the Cyrus 2.  It wasn't bass light but somewhat dry, so needed some warmish speakers to temper it's forward nature.  But with rock and dance it absolutely kicked.

Have to fully agree there!
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