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Manufacturer: CYRUS AUDIO Ltd
Price (when reviewed): 12 990 PLN

Cyrus Audio Ltd, Ermine Business Park
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire


Provided for test by: CYRUS AUDIO Ltd


images Cyrus, „High Fidelity”

No 240

May 1, 2024

CYRUS is an English company that began its operations in 1983 as a separate brand of MISSION, and its first products were called MISSION CYRUS. Since 1984 it has been operating independently as CYRUS, and it was in 1984 that it launched the ONE and TWO amplifiers, which set the form of its devices for the following years. The special feature of its products is their shape - they are narrow and deep. All of them are manufactured in ENGLAND. This time, however, we are testing the CDi-XR Compact Disc player.

ON DECEMBER FIRST, 2020, Cyrus introduced a new series, marked with the letters "XR" ("Extreme Resolution"). It ranked above this manufacturer's entry-level series, the Classic. It initially included six products: two integrated amplifiers with D/A converters, the i7-XR and i9-XR, the Pre-XR line preamplifier, the CDt-XR CD transport, and the CDi-XR CD player. About 12 months later, the PSU-XR external DC power supply was introduced to the market.

In designing these products from the ground up, the engineers were able to create an exceptionally low noise platform, through power supply design, DAC optimization, component choice, circuit topology, as well as some more fundamental design approaches.

⸜ source: Cyrus unveils new XR series, „Hi-Fi Choice”, 21.01.2021, →, accessed: 8.11.2023.

Amplifiers have always been the core activity of Cyrus. Exactly forty years ago, this English manufacturer unveiled its first product, the Model One integrated amplifier. As we read on its website, in many cases it was the first to offer various solutions, and in others it was right behind the leaders. Thus, as early as 1988, a Compact Disc player, the PCM II model, was added to its lineup. Admittedly, the company wasn't taking much of a risk; the second half of the 1980s saw an explosion of interest in the format, but for a small, independent manufacturer, preparing a complex, electro-mechanical device must have been a major challenge.

CD players and D/A converters will remain with Cyrus permanently. Aside from a two-and-a-half-year hiatus in the early 1990s, the company's fans will receive silver disc players on a regular basis, later also CD transports and DACs. In late 2005 the first device with an "X" in its name, the CDXt CD transport, hit the market. Its direct successors, the CDt-XR transport (transport) and CDi-XR (player) will be added to the lineup fifteen years later, at the end of 2020.


| A few simple words…

Managing director

PRODUCTION OF HIGH_QUALITY CD players is continuing to be an increasing challenge for the premium audio industry. The scale is relatively small, so that none of the leading drive manufacturers are interested in optimizing their devices for single speed operation and sound quality. Instead, they are optimized for read speed (computer industry) and/or vibration resistance (automotive industry). Therefore, proprietary solutions that optimize available solutions for sound quality are gaining importance.

One such solution is the Servo Evolution platform developed by Cyrus. It involves selecting appropriate moving mechanisms and, above all, using suitable control software that slows down the read speed to the specific audio speed and increases its accuracy. The aim is to achieve the most accurate data read from the disc the first time. As a result, there are far fewer errors during playback, resulting in a cleaner data stream read by the DAC and a more accurate and engaging listening experience.

Both devices from the XR series introduce further improvements in sound parameters by introducing a more accurate mechanism, improving the power supply section, and introducing two controllers (one system, the other exclusively for the drive). All this results in these devices having an even lower level of interference and sonically characterized by even greater saturation and detail. Additionally, the CDi-XR features a built-in DAC converter (2nd generation XR platform). NC


CDi-XR IS A COMPACT DISC PLAYER. And that's it. It offers no digital inputs, so it's not advertised as a CD/DAC, nor is it equipped with Bluetooth, let alone a file transport module. This is a pure CD player. It is based on the latest version of the CD transport with proprietary "Servo Evolution" software and the second-generation QXR DAC. The CDi-XR, like the rest of the devices in this series, also uses a completely rebuilt power supply section.

The electronics are designed as two sections, which, the manufacturer says, allows for improved sound quality by connecting an external power supply. This power supply completely isolates the DAC section, "thus improving timing and eliminating intermodulation that can affect the output analog signal". The new player is also supposed to be easier to set up, thanks to a new menu, with a different display, setting the time to go into standby mode, digital filters and new configuration options.

The basis of the player is an in-house-made drive - the mechanics are supplied by an external company, while its software is the work of Cyrus engineers. The press materials read that the new servo allowed to reduce reading errors by 20%. This allowed error correction to be shallower and less invasive. According to Cyrus, this has a major impact on sound quality, because even when the signal sent to the DAC does not contain interpolated data, noise from the source enters the DAC in addition to it, which affects the quality of the conversion. The level of interference is to be further reduced by an overclocking circuit. Thus, the player combines two jitter reduction techniques - at the source, that is, in the mechanics, and then at its output.

When asked about this by me once, SIMON FREETHY, then managing director, said that the mechanism was purchased from "one of the mass-market suppliers". For the XR version, the previous supplier was changed to another in order, he said, "to get more control over production deviations." The servo board - the integrated circuit, software and electronics that control the laser and sled, how they move and how the disk is read - is a Cyrus design, built by SMS' manufacturing partner in Nottingham; more → HERE.

The DAC is based on a new platform dubbed the 2nd generation QXR by Cyrus. Its base is ESS Technology's Sabre series chip, ES9028Q2M. It's a low-power D/A chip with a wide range of supported signals - PCM up to 32 bits, 768 kHz and native DSD up to DSD512. In the tested player, this is not a separate board, but part of the whole circuit.

This is supposed to be a version optimized for PCM 16/44.1 signals, hence the lack of digital inputs; these are found in the company's amplifiers and preamplifiers. This section has been additionally shielded. The manufacturer declares that in its case special attention was paid to the appropriate use of reconstruction filters at the output, which, incidentally, they developed themselves.

The company also emphasizes the key role of power supply for sound quality. Thus, there are multiple circuits in Cyrus CD players, each of which powers a different section. As Mr. Freethy said, this ability to break a CD player into subsystems, and then optimize each of them, "gives Cyrus players an advantage over their rivals", and that "they are designed in such a way that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts". Separate power supplies have been used for the digital and analog sections, and if needed, an external PSU-XR can be purchased to take over the duties of either.

The player is not large, measuring 73 x 215 x 360 mm and weighing 3.8 kg. Its design is very sturdy, and the chassis is extremely rigid and deaf to tapping. The metal feet are worth replacing with some more specialized, anti-vibration feet in the future. The front panel features a small display - there is no CD-Text - and underneath it there is a slot for discs. These are swallowed slowly, without haste. Under the slot are touch-buttons. A similar button, but with an illuminated power icon, was placed next to the display; the backlight is red (standby) or white (operation). We can also control the device with the iR14 remote control. It's a system remote control, so not very convenient to use.


HOW WE LISTENED • Cyrus CDi-XR player was tested in the HIGH FIDELITY reference system. It stood on the top carbon shelf of a Finite Elemente Pagode Edition Mk II rack on its feet. Its sound was compared to the AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF EDITION SACD player and the S.L.M.L PL200 CD player.

The Cyrus was connected to the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier using Crystal Cable Absolute Dream unbalanced cables. Power was supplied by Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable. I devoted a separate listening to the role of the external PSU-XR. It stood next to the CD player and was powered by a Siltech Triple Crown cable.


⸜ PIOTR WYLEŻOŁ, Human Things, Polskie Nagrania | Warner Music Poland 01902 9 57003 7 9
seria „Polish Jazz” vol. 79, CD ⸜ 2018.
⸜ KOSUKE QUINTET, Mine, Three Blind Mice/Sony Music Labels MHCL 10162, seria „Three Blind Mice プレミアム復刻コレクション”, SACD/CD (1970/2024).
⸜ LEONARD COHEN, You Want It Darker, Columbia Records/Sony Records Int'l SICP 5076, CD (2016).
⸜ DIRE STRAITS, Brothers In Arms, Vertigo/Universal Music Hong Kong | JVC CJVC5483572SX, SHM-XRCD2 (1985/2007).
⸜ STING, Brand New Day, A&M Records 490 425-2, CD (1999).
⸜ J.S. BACH, Goldberg Variations (1981 Digital Recording), wyk. Glen Gould, seria „The Glen Gould Edition”, Limited Edition No. 0197, SBM Gold CD (1982/2013).
⸜ VANGELIS, Blade Runner, Atlantic Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ 154, „Limited Edition | No. 2398”, SACD/CD (1998/2013).


SINCE THE FIRST CD I listened to with the Cyrus player was the very good Human Things album by PIOTR WYLEŻOL, I was able to take a look at both how the device builds space, dynamics, sound structure, but also timbre. Released in 2018 by Polskie Nagrania in the new part of the "Polish Jazz" series under number 79, it was recorded in one of the best Polish recording studios, Studio S-4. This can be heard, among other things, through the saturated, harmonically dense sound - rather warm.

However, this album was mixed "in-the-box," that is, in the computer with DAW system, without going through an external analog console. I'm not a fan of such solutions, not with music in which acoustic instruments and voice play a dominant role. However, Mateusz Sołtysik, who did both the mixing and mastering, managed to show the whole thing in an exceptionally good way. That is, scale, and timbres, and silence.

And the Cyrus player presented it in a smooth and effortless way. Compared directly to a many times more expensive player with tube output, it absolutely did not sound "solid-state". I would even say that the way it built the story was very similar to the way the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition handles them. The leader's piano had an almost velvety sound, and the vocals of Aga Zaryan and Grzegorz Dowgiałło in the opening ˻ 1 ˺ title track had well derived harmonies and good "ground" underfoot, so to speak.

The English player doesn't have as strong a low midrange as the Ayon, but you don't hear this as a "lack", but as an "inherent feature". In the sense that neither female vocals nor male ones were shifted within the bandwidth, nor were they slimmed down. Rather, it was about their slightly airier, more pastel character. The duet sounded smooth and without brightening. The percussion cymbals, spread out quite a bit in the panorama, were clear and quite strong. But they too did not cross the conventional line between 'open' and 'bright' sound.

The tested player clearly tries to saturate the recordings with harmonics. It does this without emphasizing the upper midrange, even though, as I said, the treble is clear with it. But clear in weight and mass, not impact. I get the impression that the designers of this device were concerned with reigning in digital artifacts that could get in the way of comfortable listening.

The XRCD version of the DIRE STRAITS Brothers in Arms album has always seemed to me rather hard and overly contoured. All the releases I know of had as their source not the analog "master" tape, but its U-matic digital copy (44.1 kHz, 16 bits). Its reissue on SHM-CD has improved clarity, but it does not change the overall perception of the disc. Only that with the Cyrus it sounded almost as soft as the Mobile Fidelity version. Maybe without as nice mid-bass saturation, but this is not the fault of the device, but of the disc. But even with that kind of bass, it was a satisfying, saturated, deep sound, the kind of sound that people listening to digital music are looking for. And they usually don't find it.

Curious to see how the player in the test would handle a really bright realization, I reached for STING's Brand New Day album. Something went really wrong with its realization, as it is dynamically flat, and its bass sometimes appears and sometimes disappears, but without any order or composition. Interestingly, Cyrus played it more pleasantly than the reference player. It didn't offer wonders, but by lowering the midrange and redirecting our attention to the low midrange, and by saturating the upper midrange more strongly, the whole thing gained some expression and, let me say this, 2 ˺ Desert Rose sounded quite nicely.

The device does this by enlarging the foreground and pulling everything forward. These aren't big moves, more like micro changes, but important ones. LEONARD COHEN's voice on the opening track of the You Want It Darker album’s title track ˻ 1 ˺ was placed quite close to me, and the annoying coloration was less obvious than with expensive players. But that's why it played so pleasantly, in such a - nomen omen - dark way.

I have a feeling that this is what the makers of this device had in mind. As if they listened to a Rega turntable in the same system and were guided by its sound. And that sound was warm, big, but also energetic and saturated. The bass in this piece was prominent, it was not about just gently "knocking" underneath the sounds. And only the Hammond B3, played here by Patrick Leonard, responsible, by the way, for all the music on this last album released during Cohen's lifetime (seventeen days before his passing, to be exact), was a bit more hidden than with the reference player.

But that's part of what I was talking about earlier, which is the "fitting" of everything into a fluid presentation. Even if some details are hidden by this, if it's not as resolving playing as more expensive equipment, without a 1:1 comparison it will be difficult to catch it. We will be quicker to pay attention to the sound of the midrange and its saturation. This causes recordings to sound a bit more alike - they always sound colorful, interesting, cool, without treble issues. But, to tell you the truth, I would wish such a thing for everyone, i.e. to have no problem with "digital" form of music.

Therefore, the KOSUKE QUINTET’S Mine album sounded in an exceptionally good, almost relaxing way. In the sense that, although dynamic, almost avant-garde, it had some warmth, some softness, that it made the presentation very satisfying. This is the first album in the catalog of Japanese label Three Blind Mice, and it doesn't yet have in its sound what a few albums later would become its hallmark: immediacy, closeness and a lack of agency between us and the sound. Cyrus didn't add his own fuzziness to it, didn't overly warm up anything. But it also went exactly in that direction, that is, warmth and fluidity.


AFTER CONNECTING an external power supply to the Player, several things happened at once. First, the sound became a bit clearer. It was still a presentation on the warmer side, but now there was more punch, emphasis on the attack of the sound. Also, the bass was more strongly accented. More importantly, however, it seems to me that with the power supply the presentation had much better defined sound planes. The voice of Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, instructing the computer and printing a photo of Rachel (Sean Young) was placed further into the scene and was no longer as palpable as without the PSU - I'm talking about the VANGELIS soundtrack for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

This is because the Cyrus player with the power supply offers significantly more contoured sound and shows greater contrasts than without it. This leads the sound of the device in the direction of classic CD players. Therefore, I would precede the addition of a power supply in this case with a listening session in ones system. After all, the changes are significant, but they may not always "agree" with the nature of the system. Whatever we decide, however, we will know that the power supply improves the resolution of recordings, even if they are thus more contoured.

When GLEN GOULD begins ˻ 1 ˺ the first Variation from the Goldberg Variations album BWV 988, in the 1981 digital recording, he immediately begins to sing (murmur). The PSU caused Gould's voice to be stronger, but less connected to the piano. Because it was, after all, a secondary sound that reached the microphones set up to record the instrument, not the pianist. So it did a good job, because it showed that it was not a common source of sound. But it also shattered somewhat the illusion of the artist's presence with us in the room, as if instead of moving him to us, it moved us into a different acoustics, the acoustics of the recording.


CYRUS PLAYER AS SUCH is a very pleasant sounding device. Its presentation is focused on the midrange and that's where the most things happen. Because it's a saturated and colorful sound with very well controlled elements that in more open devices can be annoying - be it the brightening on the Sting album, be it Cohen's not very well shown vocals, be it the emphasizing of the midrange in a Kosuke Quintet recording. And all this was a result of the tested player keeping a "safety umbrella" over everything.

Adding an external power supply improves virtually all playing characteristics, adding much better resolution. But it also contours the frequency extremes more strongly, making the sound no longer so unambiguously warm. As usual, it's a matter of choice. But it's precisely because we have a choice that this is such an interesting proposition.

And the player itself is just an extremely pleasant sounding device. Its sound is big, close, warm, with very good spatial differentiation and clear, though sweet, highs. It sounds like Rega turntables, and therefore - in some sense - like analog. It doesn't overdo anything, doesn't attack listener with annoying elements, keeps everything under control. It brings the sound of individual records closer together, but in life nothing is free. And you can pay this price without even looking at the bill. Because it's worth it.


AS WE HAVE MENTIONED MANY TIMES BEFORE, one of the distinguishing features of Cyrus equipment is the use of the same pressure-formed aluminum-magnesium enclosure for all its products. It comes with different fronts and backs; the aluminum bottom is also the same.

» FRONT AND REAR • The same is true in case of the CDi-XR player. Its front has been divided into two sections: one perpendicular to the base and an inclined section where the buttons are placed. These are echoes of household appliance designs from the 1970s, such as Braun's. These are touch, not mechanical buttons. A small, not particularly legible, display is placed on the perpendicular section. It can be dimmed, its contrast can be changed, and even its polarity can be switched (negative/positive), but it changes little in terms of its legibility. Below there is the transport mechanism’s slot.

On the back of the player, there are two pairs of analog RCA outputs, and digital RCA and Toslink outputs; there are also jacks for system connectivity and two mini-USB ports for software upgrades and service are located. This is important because the manufacturer used two separate micro-controllers, for the servo mechanics and for the control, thus minimizing noise. And there is also a multi-pin gold-plated socket for an external power supply.

» INSIDE • Inside, the unit was divided into two parts by a shield: the mechanics and the DAC with power supply section. A servo control board was bolted to the mechanics - it is made in-house by Cyrus - and a transformer powering one of the sections was bolted to the shield.

The company's first player, the PCM II model featured a classic Philips drawer and mechanics. In 1994, it was replaced by a much better one. The Discmaster model featured a top-loader transport, which used the very good Philips CDM9 Pro mechanics. A year later, the dAD3 player is created using a classic transport with a drawer - it's the inexpensive Philips CDM12.4. The company calls it in its materials Integral Isolated Loader. In 2000, the company presents the CD7 model with Philips CDM 12.1/VAM1201 mechanics.

All of these devices were based on Philips drives assembled in their entirety, including software. The real change, however, came only in 2008, when three devices were released simultaneously, which, for the first time at this manufacturer, featured a slot mechanism, originally developed for the automotive market: the CDTx SE transport and the CD7 SE and CD8 SE players - the 'SE' in their name is an abbreviation for 'Servo Evolution'.

The SE units use a drive with a plastic mainframe and a metal frame to which the optics and brace are attached, sourced from an OEM manufacturer. Its strength lies in the software, a proprietary digital servo circuit. Company materials say that three engineers spent more than a year developing it, which, with the salaries of high-end specialists, adds up to a huge amount of money that Cyrus thus invested in what seemed at the time to be an uncertain format.

The electronics were surface-assembled, and the DAC and output were shielded. The section is modeled on the QXR module, which was an important change in the company's audio thinking. The basis for DACs became ESS Technology chips supporting PCM signals up to 32 bits, 768 kHz and natively DSD up to DSD512. The module can be used in various devices by this company, and here it is part of the basic circuit; Cyrus even speaks of a "2nd generation QRT module." We should add that a matching transformer can be seen at the digital output.

The power supply is small, based on a small Noratel toroidal transformer. But the power supply here is, as the manufacturer assures, extremely extensive. To minimize mutual interference between the analog and digital circuits in the CDi-XR, they are powered separately. Digital control circuits are powered by a switching power supply, while other sections are powered by a linear power supply. The manufacturer states that you will find as many as nine different voltage stabilizing sections.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Supported discs: CD, CD-R, CD-RW, hybrid SACD (including CD layer)
Outputs: analog: RCA, digital: RCA and Optical Toslink, systemic: mini USB (servicing) and power inlet
Options: an external PSU-XR power supply
Remote control: iR14
Power consumption (standby/max): <0,5 W/20 W
Dimensions (W x H x D): 75 x 215 x 355 mm
Weight: 3.7 kg

THIS TEST HAS BEEN DESIGNED ACCORDING TO THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry, of which HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. More about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.


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