Having a ‘lifestyle’, rather than a plain old-fashioned ‘life’, can make significant demands on your possessions. After all, if you just live a ‘life’, then your belongings are simply part of it. Aspire to a ‘lifestyle’ and suddenly everything you own has to complement it and enhance it. Simple functionality is no longer enough when you’re enjoying a ‘lifestyle’.
For some of the more dogmatic brands involved in the hi-fi industry, the ideal of ‘lifestyle’ is anathema. If concessions are going to be made, they’ll be made by the lucky owners of these manufacturers’ products rather than the other way around.
But more sensible – or pragmatic – audio companies accept there’s no longer any virtue in complexity for its own sake. Consumers’ lifestyles don’t allow for it. Products have to be simple to set up and operate, wide-ranging in their functionality, and impeccable in their performance. Because if they’re not, then they’re hardly enhancing their owners’ lifestyle. Are they?
Probably the most resonant recent example of a previously rather hairshirted company seeing the ‘lifestyle’ light and amending their products accordingly is that of Naim. Its ‘Uniti’ range of streaming amplifiers has done wonders, both for the company’s profile and its balance sheet, and at the same time has made a few nominal rivals look rather like Luddites.
Mind you, Cyrus – to choose a brand not entirely at random – has, perhaps inadvertently, been pandering to the lifestyle-obsessed ever since its very first product launched in 1984. The Cyrus One amplifier set the Cyrus ‘half-width/shoe-box’ design template, and the company has enjoyed this particular USP ever since.
36 years is a fair while, though, even in two-channel hi-fi. To keep up with Naim et al, and to convince lifestylers of its credentials, Cyrus has served up the One Cast. It’s the usual half-width box comprising amplification and extensive connectivity, including streaming–on paper, at least, it has everything it needs to compete in this brave new lifestyle world.
‘Everything’, in this instance, means 100 watts per channel of Class D amplification with a heady 78 amps of instantaneous current available. It means a fair number of physical inputs: digital optical, digital coaxial, HDMI ARC, stereo RCA line-level and stereo RCA moving magnet phono stage. There are a pair of stereo RCA analogue outputs for connection to a power amp, and chunky speaker binding posts for just a single pair. It also means aptX Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and wi-fi connectivity for use with any Chromecast-compatible apps and services. Even Amazon’s Alexa gets a look-in.
The USB is a Type-B socket you’re probably more used to seeing on the back of a printer. Connected to a laptop, it can handle incoming digital files of up to 32bit/192kHz or DSD128 standard–both the optical and coaxial inputs are restricted to PCM stereo only. All incoming digital signals are dealt with by a 32bit/192kHz (and heavily breathed-on) ESS Sabre DAC.