Cyrus Pre XP D/8 power - £1,350/£875

Cyrus Pre XP D/8 power - £1,350/£875 A traditional-sounding pre/power amp combi from Cyrus, that works hard to establish itself against the competition

Built, as ever, into the famous Cyrus diecast chassis, these units are picked from among the comprehensive range of pre and power amplifiers in the company’s catalogue. To some extent we’ve chosen an unusual pairing as the preamp significantly exceeds the power amp in price and its usual partner would be the X Power, but apart from anything else, Cyrus offers an upgrade path to take the 8 to X status, so the model chosen initially matters less than usual. In addition, the preamp includes DAC functions so its price can fairly be thought of as including a DAC, as well as an analogue pre.

We mentioned upgrades and this is a major attraction of Cyrus. The obvious one for each of these products is the PSX-R power supply, one of which can be connected to each amp for improved resolution and finesse – it won’t do anything for output power, though. To that end, you can switch the 8 Power to mono mode and add another for the other channel, increasing power from 60 watts to well over 100 watts.

On removing the bottom cover of the Pre XP D, the most notable feature is the amount of unfilled space on the main circuit board. The DAC board is separate and the whole lot is powered by a large toroidal transformer. The 8 Power, of course, has rather more going on inside, its circuit made up mostly of discrete transistors and again powered by a large toroid. Output is on BFA connectors, for which you will need suitably terminated speaker cables or adaptors.Sound quality

Something turned up with these amps that we’ve found before with Cyrus electronics – they seem to lack excitement, especially in quick comparisons with other, more forward, kit. For some listeners, that’s just about the worst sin an amp can commit, but we think that excitement should come from the music, not the equipment and there really is such a thing as too much of it. Some amps (and CD players) seem initially exciting, but ultimately lack insight and fine detail. A criticism one could easily make of these units.

In fact, they are capable of a very high degree of subtlety, as was picked up on very quickly by the member of our listening panel for whom that is of paramount importance. He identified this as one of the most revealing combinations in the test, its character (or lack of it) making it a very honest and straightforward part of the reproduction chain.

So far, then, it looks like a classic case of ‘horses for courses’. One further aspect requires comment, though and that’s the bass. All our blind listeners felt – as we did, sighted, later – that this is not the Cyrus’s strongest suit. Extension is fine, but there’s less impact than one might wish for, less immediacy and less precise control of the loudspeakers. The tuning of low notes is less obvious than it can be, and both subtle and overt sounds lack a little attack. It’s not a major drawback and is the sort of thing one can soon become accustomed to, but we certainly wouldn’t object if it could be tightened up a little.

LIKE: Detailed and subtle, with little character added to sound
DISLIKE: For some, those same attributes translate to ‘boring’
WE SAY: The only real drawback is lacklustre bass, but the resolution is compensation

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