This is a HiFi review of the new Cyrus Pre-XR which is one of a new XR series of Cyrus components. The new range features the i7 and i9 XR integrated amplifiers and an XR CD player and a CD transport. There is also an external XR power supply which is interesting for this range.
An XR power amplifier is surely due for the XR range, but the Cyrus Stereo 200 class D power amplifier is doing the leg work for the review of this preamplifier.
The Cyrus Pre-XR is a preamplifier with a myriad of inputs. It has a superb input specification with four analogue line in options and four (two optical and two coaxial) digital inputs as well as a USB B input, there is with an onboard DAC and a MM phono input.
Although the classic half-size Cyrus die-cast aluminium case is familiar just about everything associated with the XR range has been re-engineered from the bottom up.
The QXR DAC is now a second-generation iteration featuring a new and redesigned filter section that rebuilds the analogue signal from the ESS silicon DAC. Cyrus claims to have built their own filter system interrogator to isolate where sonic properties come from at each stage of this analogue reconstruction path, ensuring they get the sound they want. Additionally, there is a new power supply treatment in the XR range that promises a lower noise floor from a cleaner treatment of the circuits in the supply. This new power supply arrangement claims to offer a greater dynamic range.
On the output side, there is a pre-out RCA and XLR output to a power amplifier, there is a fixed output to AV. There is also a rather well-hidden 3.5mm headphone output at the rear of the Cyrus Pre-XR.
The monochrome front screen is a high resolution LCD design that fits the bill.
The classic half size Cyrus lines, with the rearward fins, remain. The units look really smooth and there are indications that they are designed stackable with a couple of subtle dimples to the front of the units. I prefer not to do this. The units though are suitably heavy, and the heft is reassuring to me. The aluminium chassis is finished with what is called a phantom black finish.
There is a remote control, it lights up on the slightest movement.
The Cyrus Pre-XR preamplifier is priced near £4,195. The Cyrus Stereo 200 power amplifier I’ve used here is a further £2,200.
Dimensions (H x W x D) – 73 x 215 x 360 mm
Fortunately, I still have the magnificent Kudos Cardea Super 20A floorstanding loudspeakers with Tellurium Q Ultra Black II speaker cable. I’m also using Tellurium Q Ultra Black II XLR cables between the Cyrus Pre-XR and the power amplifier. Don’t tell REL but I still have their S/510 subwoofer and I love the platform it creates for these speakers to articulate their magnificent voices.
In respect of analogue sources, I’ve had the Cyrus Pre-XR with an analogue input from the terrific Earmen Tradutto DAC fed by a streaming bridge from the Chord Electronics 2Go/2Yu combination using the ‘definitely growing on me’ Mconnect App. I’m also running a Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO into the phono MM input of the Cyrus Pre-XR.
On the digital side, I have run the Chord Electronics 2Go/2Yu combination directly into one of the optical inputs. I’m also using an Oppo Blu-ray disk player, the brilliant BDP-105, as a CD transport into the coaxial digital input.
Although the Cyrus Pre-XR is fairly slim, there is plenty of room to plug in and out of the rear, things only get tricky with the headphone output which is a pain to get to, especially with a Phono input involved, with a ground. Using the XLR output increases the space at the rear as they are on either side of the rear chassis.
The headphones output is at the rear, this is fine and immediately cuts the preamplifier output and sets the volume to a minimum, so you don’t blow your ears off, this is thoughtful.
The key thing to decide here is what am I listening to? The Cyrus Stereo 200 or the Pre-XR, I am very happy with the articulate and fully resolved Cardea Super 20As? Obviously, I am able to isolate the DAC stage in the Cyrus Pre-XR by feeding in pure digital and the Chord Electronics 2Go/2Yu combination is as clean as it gets really. I am used to a passive preamplifier that effectively switches between sources offering volume control but little else, here the Cyrus Pre-XR has a gain stage. Notwithstanding this little is added or taken away, particularly with the proper relays, and I feel this is the principal role of a preamplifier; to order and deliver signal to a power amplifier.
this is an energetic and dynamic presentation with a very satisfying stereo sound
Listening in detail to the Cyrus combination, I have a dominant and warm soundstage. Vocals, for example, in Gregory Porter’s Hey Laura (Qobuz 24-bit, 44.1kHz) from Still Rising are full and centred in this terrific production, there is depth here too. The Super 20As are comfortably demonstrating their characteristic midrange. I feel I can identify the separate instruments in the soundstage and overall, this is an energetic and dynamic presentation with a very satisfying stereo sound.
The 200 and Cyrus Pre-XR feel as if they have plenty of bounce and energy. It appears the redesigned QXR DAC offers the dynamic improvement Cyrus is after. There is plenty of resolution from the 2Go/2Yu streaming bridge onto the DAC. Similarly, if I use the Oppo as CD transport into the Cyrus Pre-XR DAC the resolution remains in a clean soundstage.
Slipping the Moor Amp Angel 6 into the power amplifier place I get a more urgent reaction from the Cardea Super 20s as I was anticipating. This proves to me the Cyrus Pre-XR is a nicely organised preamplifier, and the Moor Amps Angel 6 retains its place as my pride and joy on the power amplifier side, the Pre-XR is a fine partner.
There are seven DAC Filters called, variously; Hybrid, Brick Wall, Steep Linear, Gentle Linear, Steep Minimising, Gentle Minimum and ‘Apodising’. I can’t say I’m getting a great deal from these filters if I’m being really honest with myself, however, I feel reassured my ears are in good shape following my Mojo 2 experiences; these Super 20As are also very strong in the midrange and the treble. I’ve ended up with one of the filters on a totally subjective choice, but it feels like these filters are just adjusting something that’s fine anyway.
In conversation with Cyrus, it may be that the filters are better suited to lower quality digital inputs and that, maybe, I’m getting less from the filters by chasing the highest quality I can on Qobuz via my 2Go/2Tu streaming bridge.
The Cyrus remote control is one of those that cater for all the Cyrus separates. It is also one of those that befits the equipment it is supporting; in other words, it feels worth it. The remote lights up when it is moved slightly, and I like this for a bit of dark listening.
MM Phono input
Switching to the Phono stage using the soft-touch sensitive front buttons I can hear the relays switching over on their ‘pure copper path’ rather than relying on solid-state switches, a further nice design credit for this Cyrus Pre-XR. Incidentally, each of the inputs can be named with a series of generic names in the intuitive menu system.
The Phono stage taking input from the Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO is absolutely fine and the resolution and warmth are clearly translated from the cartridge. There is a purposeful dynamic and bouncy pick up here.
Again, the headphone output to the rear is fine in the Focal Radiance headphones I have with a 3.5mm jack. These headphones are detailed and have excellent dynamic performance and there is little left behind in listening to sprawling tracks like Thinking of a Place by the War on Drugs (Vinyl album, A Deeper Understanding). The headphone at the back is a bit of a pain space-wise but that is more a function of having a shorter length cable with the Radiance headphones which is something I bemoaned in the review.
I guess, in any case, if you are really serious about headphones you may have a dedicated amplifier solution that you could use the Pre-XR as a source.
Pricewise, at £4,000 plus, this is chunky, but you have to consider this has a seriously decent DAC, a competent MM phono stage and a better than average headphone output. There is plenty to merit the Cyrus Pre-XR and it should rightly receive serious consideration in this price band if you have a power amplifier looking for a partner.
There is a very fine DAC in here… looks like Cyrus is back….
There is a very fine DAC in here which was not what I was expecting to say since this is a preamplifier review. Cyrus is offering a more than competent, clean, and bouncy preamplifier with plenty of input options, including a capable phono stage, and the DAC is covering off digital sources such as a CD transport, or a streamer. As a package, top quality DAC and well-organised preamplifier this is a serious piece of equipment. I believe there may be an XR streamer in the pipeline which will change the capabilities of this Cyrus Pre-XR for the better. Looks like Cyrus is back, good news for UK HiFi fans everywhere. I’d certainly be quite excited for an XR power amplifier to match too.
Plenty of inputs
The slimline case still delights
Menu input naming
Headphone stage was to the front
Can’t wait for the XR power amplifier
Full details are on the company’s site