Cyrus 82 DAC/QXR integrated amplifier

Integrated amplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
Cyrus 82 DAC/QXR
Cyrus 82 DAC/QXR integrated amplifier

You can usually tell what a product is from its name, an LP12 plays LPs or ‘vinyls’ (spit), a CD17 played CDs and a NAP 300 is a (Naim) amplifier. Cyrus takes a different approach and puts ‘DAC’ in as a suffix to its range of integrated amps. I guess the company’s amps have never hinted at function; the Cyrus 2 could have been anything! The new suffix, QXR, doesn’t tell you much, but this turns out to be a DAC upgrade board that can be added to a whole raft of Cyrus products, most of which are pre- or integrated amplifiers up to ten years old. 

QXR is a DAC module, based on an unnamed ESS Sabre chip that’s bang up to the moment in terms of figures with the ability to process PCM up to 32-bit/768kHz and native DSD up to DSD512 via an asynchronous USB input. The 82 DAC in standard form is limited to 24/192 with no mention of DSD; an upgrade-worthy state of affairs for the spec enthusiast. The coax and optical inputs are a bit more limited but benefit from reclocking circuitry that’s designed to reduce noise on the incoming signal. It’s a £600 upgrade option for compatible products and adds the same premium to the 82 DAC amplifier.

This back panel is festooned with socketry; Cyrus couldn’t squeeze in another Toslink input even if it wanted to. There are 11 inputs in total, six of which are analogue and five digital. There are also fixed and variable outputs, a PSX-R upgrade port, and a bus connector for use with other Cyrus components. Oh and a headphone output. The speaker cable terminals are those irritating BFA types that don’t match banana plugs or spades, so I had to use adapters. Power output is given as a rather specific 88 Watts into six Ohms and despite its compact nature this is a Class A/B amplifier with a linear power supply. It seems expensive for something so compact but does provide nearly everything the contemporary music lover requires, the only omission being any form of Bluetooth or Airplay. Look to Cyrus’ One series to get that.

Inputs can be labelled using a wide selection of preset names including CD, DAB, USB, and Tape 3-Head, but the only one for a streamer is Stream X. There is the option of AV Direct for incorporating the amp into a multichannel system and you can choose ‘no source’ which means that a given input will not appear when scrolling through the options. You can also vary input sensitivity so that all the inputs come through at a similar volume level. Making these settings is pretty straightforward; you do need the manual to get started but thereafter it’s pretty intuitive, which is more than can be said for other similarly flexible systems. Once set up, the amp/DAC largely can be controlled with the remote handset; this has movement sensing backlighting for those late night sessions, but this sample proved hypervigilant, lighting up at the slightest shift on the sofa, so not quite as relaxing as it might be.

Listening commenced with a pair of Q-Acoustics new Concept 300 loudspeakers on the end of Townshend Fractal speaker cables, using a USB input from a Stack Audio Link streamer. This speaker proved a little bright in the 82 DAC/QXR’s hands, but also appealingly alive and vibrant with Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles live recording [Asylum]. This is a high res mastering of what is clearly a good analogue original and contains lots of atmosphere in the fine details, and it proved engaging and enjoyable. As did another live album from a seventies concert, Nucleus with Leon Thomas [Live 1970, Gearbox] at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Here the immediacy worked really well but the slightly exposed nature of the amp/speaker pairing was evident. But it wasn’t so much so that listening was discouraged; I enjoyed a selection of tracks each of which had plenty of distinct character, suggesting that the Cyrus is highly transparent via the QXR input.

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