What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 25 Feb 2010, 12:00pm

Cyrus CD Xt SE+/DAC X+/PSX-R

Tested at £4050
100100
5

Best CD player £2000+, Awards 2010. Cyrus's range-topper is another stunner; it's good enough to worry machines at triple the price

Write your own review

For

  • Staggering resolution, agility and dynamics
  • impressive timing and stereo imaging

Against

  • Most alternatives at this price have more lavish cosmetics

Cyrus must be a fan of Lego. Its building block approach to system engineering is taken to a logical conclusion with this four-box CD player.

The quartet of boxes consists of a newly revised transport and digital-to-analogue converter, both identified by the '+' tagged on to their model names, and a pair of PSX-R outboard power supplies.

Externally, the £1500 CD Xt SE+ transport is unchanged from its predecessor, bar a smarter trim. It still uses Cyrus's CD engine, but now has a revised power supply arrangement with separate circuits for the servo motors and low-level signal sections.

The main circuit board is also upgraded and the clocking arrangement improved to minimise timing errors.

The DAC X+ hasn't changed so much, though its price has also climbed to £1500. The '+' revisions amount to improved component quality, tweaks to the circuit and a retuning of the sound.

Not about easy listening
The Cyrus sound is not about easy listening. To be fair, it never has been, and the company's ultimate CD player takes things to an extreme. It sounds staggeringly fast, with amazing definition to the beginnings and ends of notes.

This ability is true throughout the frequency range, but is especially impressive in the bass, where this player uncovers layers of low-frequency textures.

Madonna's Frozen is a track that can easily sound slow and plodding. Not here, as this Cyrus delivers the lows with class-leading agility and a truckload of slam. Even normally upbeat-sounding machines such as our reference Naim CDS3/555ps sound a little reserved in comparison.

The Cyrus's open, insightful presentation also works well with acoustic instruments. It delivers Shostakovich's String Quartet No.7 with a great deal of passion and finesse while still having the dynamic reach to deliver Beethoven's Fifth with authority.

Tonally, there's the slightest hint of leanness to the presentation, but nothing that would cause trouble to any reasonably balanced set-up.

Exquisite stereo imaging
Detail retrieval is staggering: there's a very real sense of the player delivering absolutely everything that's on the disc. You can add exquisitely precise stereo imaging and a stable presentation to the list of plus points, too.

Discard the pair of PSX-Rs and you'll save £1100 and still have a great-sounding CD player. Scale, power and resolution all take a notable dip, though. The four-boxer really is the ultimate configuration as far as all-round performance is concerned.

Cyrus's SE range of CD players have destroyed the competition when it comes to sonic ability. This range-topper does the same at its price level.

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