A switch of speaker to Dynaudio’s Evoke turned out to be a good move. This speaker’s relatively smooth and calm yet revealing demeanour proved a perfect match for the 82 DAC/QXR. It allowed the Cyrus to show off its image scaling capabilities with a strong sense of physical presence enhanced by solid – if not room-shaking – lows, but this isn’t a huge speaker by any means. It pulled lots of detail out of the music especially through the mid and top but avoided any sense of forwardness. I really enjoyed Conjure’s ‘Foolology’ [Music For The Texts Of Ishmael Reed, American Clavé] where the percussion popped out of the system with real vitality, and the bass line really drives the piece along. The Cyrus may not be hugely powerful, but it gets a grip on whatever you give it and keeps things tight. A contemporary track from Leifur James’ excellent A Louder Silence [Late Night Tales] filled the room with sound, and while the amp’s enthusiasm for higher frequencies brought out the ride cymbal more than average, it always sounded natural. It was also possible to play this at an entertaining volume without any edginess creeping in to suggest that the amp was struggling. Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks [Warner Bros] had a slightly distant feel and a light balance, which is somewhat different to its usual character but it was easy to hear all the elements in the mix albeit the bass line was less clear than it can be. Essentially it sounded lighter, but not in a bad way.
Acoustic guitar from Gwenifer Raymond was a lot more present and crisp with good pace and well defined notes, attack and decay being clear alongside the sheer intensity of the playing. It could perhaps have had a bit more ‘body’ but the timing was very strong.
I checked out the analogue side of the amplifier by playing some vinyl through an external phono stage. Here the balance was very similar with good separation of instruments and consistently clear definition of leading edges especially where percussive instruments were involved. Vinyl sounded a little more fluid than the digital sound and had a little more body and warmth as you’d expect but the difference is often more marked than the Cyrus revealed, suggesting that the QXR DAC is really rather good. I used a good external DAC, the iFi Pro iDSD, and found that the QXR outperformed it in many respects. It does of course have the advantage of much shorter signal paths but I was nonetheless surprised that it sounded warmer and was more rounded. The other explanation of course is that the analogue inputs on the Cyrus have a leaner sound than the internal DAC.
In a quest to find the best speaker match I also tried PMC’s twenty.22 stand-mount; this delivered tighter grooves and a larger soundstage with slightly drier bass than that of the ported Dynaudio. Which highlighted a Olu Dara trumpet solo that sounded particularly good. Switching to the bigger and more revealing PMC Fact.8 that I use as a reference improved dynamics but emphasised a slightly skeletal aspect of the Cyrus’ sound, its relatively lean balance not working well with the speaker’s less than fulsome balance. Clearly the 82 DAC was conceived with ported speakers like the Dynaudio in mind, which given the prevalence of this approach in speaker design makes perfect sense. That said it’s rare to find an amplifier that disagrees so strongly with the fact.8. It goes to show that the amp/speaker match is one of the most critical in system synergy.
The Cyrus DAC 82/QXR does an awful lot of things remarkably well; it has all the inputs most would need and even a headphone output with dedicated amplifier if you can reach round the back to find the minijack socket. The QXR DAC upgrade is clearly just that. It is very transparent and performed to a very high standard especially with a USB input, and that it is backwards compatible with the last decade of Cyrus is a strong point. The amplifier’s balance will be familiar to those who have heard Cyrus in the past; fast and detailed, but a little lean through the lower mid/upper bass. If you want a compact, fast, and flexible centre for your digital and analogue sources, it should be on the shortlist.
Type: Solid-state, 2-channel integrated amplifier with built-in DAC and headphone amplifier
Analogue inputs: Six single-ended line-level inputs (via RCA jacks)
Digital inputs: Four S/PDIF (two coaxial, two optical), one USB port
Analogue outputs: Two pre-outs (via RCA jacks), One fixed level (via RCA jacks), one headphone (via minijack). IR, MC-Bus, PSX-R upgrade port
Supported sample rates:
Coaxial and optical S/PDIF: 16-bit, 24-bit up to 192kHz
USB: 16-bit, 24-bit, 32-bit — up to 768kHz
Input impedance: Not specified
Output impedance (preamp): Not specified
Headphone Loads: Not specified
Power Output: 88Wpc @ 6 Ohms
Bandwidth: Not specified
Distortion: THD </+ 0.005% with both channels driving from 250mW to rated power, 20Hz to 20kHz; IM </+ 0.005%
Signal to Noise Ratio: Not specified
Dimensions (H×W×D): 73 × 215 × 360mm
Manufacturer: Cyrus Audio
Tel: +44 (0)1480 410 900