Back when I started my stint in hi-fi retail, the national chain for whom I worked sold a lot of Cyrus kit, and it was not hard to see why. The unique form factor made it partner-friendly, and it offered very good value for money. Somehow though, I (and quite a few colleagues, truth be told) did not hold it in the same high esteem as we did some other British brands. For my part, I never felt drawn into the music in the way that I was by alternatives. Cyrus gave a very detailed and probably very accurate rendition of the music played through it but it never grabbed my attention and made me want to sit and listen for extended periods. Thousands of highly satisfied Cyrus users would have argued with me including a good friend who has used their equipment for many years, for both stereo and multichannel playback.
One of the many good things that turning my hand to reviewing equipment has done is to force me to drop my previous preconceptions and tackle each new assignment with an open mind. Thus when the chance came to play host to a Cyrus system I was actually pleased to do so. The main subject of this review, the Stereo 200 power amplifier, has been added to the Cyrus catalogue since I left the retail side of the business and the Pre2DAC QXR which accompanied it for the review is also more recent, so they definitely deserved to be approached without prejudice.
The Stereo 200 looks like every one of its forebears, but inside the familiar matt black metal casing things are very different. Cyrus call the design a hybrid, and with justification. A traditional and weighty low noise toroidal transformer is coupled to a third generation Class D amplifier, designed in house by the boffins at Cyrus. Now some audiophiles get very sniffy about what class of amplification they use and many will only entertain Class A or Class A/B designs. I am not amongst them, as my own main amplifier is also a Class D, and serves me very well. I would urge potential buyers of the Stereo 200 to approach it with an open mind – it may even convert some non-believers.
The rear panel of the Stereo 200 is a busy little place. In addition to a pair of good quality multiway binding posts, there are XLR inputs, and two pairs of RCA sockets, one marked Chain and one marked Input. There is also a pair of RCA sockets marked MC Bus and of course an IEC power socket. The mains lead supplied comes with a small ferrite filter that clips onto the cable near the IEC connector and is intended to reduce high frequency noise on the mains. I clipped it on and left it there. A pair of inexpensive patch cables is included in the box to connect the MC Bus system that allows components to be switched on and off with a single power button on the unit itself or its remote control.
Despite the XLR option on the Stereo 200 its partner only offers RCA outputs, so I deployed a pair of Atlas Ailsa interconnects to make that connection. I started the review with a pair of Tellurium Q Ultra Black2 speaker cables attached to my Harbeth C7ESXDs, with my Gold Note PH10 plugged in using Tellurium Q Silver Diamond RCAs and my Lyngdorf CD2 connected to the DAC section of the preamplifier using the excellent Network Acoustics 75ohm digital cable. Finally, I connected my Audioquest Cinnamon optical cable from the TV. With the supplied main cables plugged directly into the wall sockets behind the system, we were ready to start listening. Or not quite. The Stereo 200’s first act when it is powered up is to test the impedance of the loudspeakers attached, so that it can match them perfectly. The quoted power rating is 203 watts into 6 Ohms and as it happens the Harbeths are designed to offer a 6 Ohm load across their entire frequency range, so I guess this was a very happy match for the Cyrus.
For the first time in a long while I was using a system with no built in streaming capability, so all my listening (other than television, of course) was done using either CD or vinyl, which actually suits me very well. The stereo 200 was a brand new unit, so it was only fair to give it a few hours to warm up and bed in and I did not sit down to listen to it for several hours. When I did so, I opted to start playing some good old fashioned records. For the very first piece, I cued up the 50thAnniversary pressing of the Doors’ Morrison Hotel and retired to my listening chair. Roadhouse Blues burst out of the Harbeths with an energy and rhythmic drive which was startling. Other brands may claim to have cornered the market in pace, rhythm and timing but I am here to tell you that this Cyrus system rivalled the very best of them. It was visceral, earthy and utterly involving. The soundstage created was high, wide and handsome, and Jim Morrison was, to quote the old chestnut, in the room with me. Breaking the spell only to turn the records over I got through three albums in quick succession. As Ennio Morricone’s majestic soundtrack for The Mission soared from the speakers, the oboe sounded as haunting as I have heard it. And finally, St Germain’s Tourist took its turn on the LP12. Three very different pieces of music but all delivered with panache and profound musicality. I was hooked.
Watching television that first evening was also revealing. Spoken word content came across very well indeed and later, when we were watching an action movie, the rapid swings between dialogue, music and sound effects was handled really well. Despite being a two channel system we both felt that the sound was immersive.
And so the next two weeks went by far too quickly. I played a lot of CDs, using the Pre2DAC’s digital input from the Lyngdorf CD2, the ensuing sound was surprisingly l close to the quality of from a pure analogue source. The Cyrus pair brought everything played through them to life. Mrs K is keen on the recordings made by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with the voices of of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison, which would not necessarily find their way onto a review playlist curated by me. However, through this system there was something extremely beguiling about the music and I came to enjoy the performances very much. The orchestral sweep actually added to my enjoyment of those magnificent songs and the Cyrus system certainly played its part in convincing me.
I was also able to connect a pair of Dynaudio Special Forty stand-mount loudspeakers which have been here for a long term review, and which I have come to both admire and enjoy hugely. I am happy to report that the Stereo 200 drove them exceptionally well too. It delivers current aplenty to the loudspeaker and will, I am sure, work really well with most mainstream loudspeakers. If I owned this Cyrus pre/power combination I would add a good streamer, possibly one of the Cyrus models, and feel pretty sure that I had a system good enough to carry me happily into the next decade.
So, well over ten years since I decided that the Cyrus sound wasn’t for me, I am happy to say that the 2021 sound of Cyrus most certainly is for me. Given that this pair would be less expensive to buy than many competing integrated amplifiers, I think I have played host to a genuine audio bargain. The sound is still detailed, but not over analytical, and while it will never be mistaken for a valve design, I think it has just a touch more warmth to the sound than I remember from all those years ago. Class is about much more than a letter or two from the early part of the alphabet. Class is also about build quality, about versatility and above all about musicality. The Cyrus Stereo 200 has real class. If you are in the market for some great amplification at a price that won’t require a second mortgage, you really have to add this to your shortlist.