What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 18 Apr 2007, 3:00pm

Cyrus DAB 8.0

Tested at £500
80100
4

A flexible tuner, with fine sound from high-quality broadcasts, but it's hampered by DAB quality – and that fiddly recording

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For

  • Impressive with good DAB, even better with FM
  • SD card recording

Against

  • Lots of DAB stations sound poor
  • menus are a bit quirky
  • rear-mounted SD card slot is awkward

Given the relatively low bit-rates used for digital radio, as more stations get crammed into the available spec-trum, do you need a hi-fi tuner for DAB? Cyrus clearly thinks you do: its DAB 8.0 DAB/FM tuner has onboard memory, allowing you to pause or rewind live DAB radio for up to an hour (depending on the bit-rate). There's also a slot on the rear for an SD card of up to 1GB to record digital radio live, or time-shift it using the electronic programme guide.

A 1GB card will give about 35 hours' recording of 64kbps broadcasts, or just over 11 hours of 192kbps, and you can then play recordings back via the tuner or transfer them to a computer or portable device: a USB socket on the rear gives a direct connection for file management.

More conventional radio features run to 10 presets on the FM band, an F-type antenna input, an optical digital output and connections for the Cyrus MC Bus remote system, plus a remote control handset.

Good when broadcasts are, too
The Cyrus is impressive with high-quality DAB stations, such as Radio 3 concert recordings. Yet it suffers disproportionately from the compression of most pop and rock stations, giving a sound that's at once flat and hard. In fact, the Cyrus often sounds better receiving FM signals, which have more air, power and impact. In our listening experience, many tuners nominally less capable than this don't react so badly to iffy-quality signals.

Recording is hampered by quirky menus, and would be better with the card-slot on the front-panel, making it easier to swap cards. You can leave a USB cable permanently attached for recording, but that involves having your computer reasonably close to the tuner.

For Cyrus fans, the DAB 8.0 has an obvious appeal. But good though it is, the intolerance of compressed digital broadcasts, and that fiddly recording system, count against it.

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