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.