Here we look at the Cyrus CDt-XR, a CD transport, I do like equipment that just does one job and does it really well. Less is more.
HiFi products benefit from the ‘less is more’ philosophy, in particular. For example, a turntable has just one job, spinning vinyl, at the correct speed. A preamplifier is another good example. Similarly, dedicated power supplies do one job, delivering clean power on demand. For this reason, I am predisposed to CD transports, like turntables, doing just one job really well, spinning things accurately!
The idea of a CD transport also appeals to me because it means I always have the option to upgrade the DAC side of the output as time goes by; my original 30 year old Marantz CD player for example is shot sound-wise (it still spins) and has no digital output for me to use, something I didn’t consider back then.
We are looking mainly at the new Cyrus CDt-XR. There is a CDi-XR in the range that features the new QXR DAC platform, offering unbalanced analogue output to a preamplifier, but I favour the transport for the reasons in the paragraph above. Besides if you have the i9-XR integrated amplifier or the Pre-XR the ESS based QXR DAC is in them. Additionally, the CDt-XR has no DAC circuitry so therefore hopefully it is less noisy in the round. It also has a higher spec SPDIF driver stage than the CDi-XR.
Both the Cyrus CDt-XR, and the Cyrus CDi-XR can be upgraded with the Cyrus off-board power supply, called PSU-XR, due in November this year.
The CDt-XR benefits from the Cyrus Servo-Evolution system the claims to reduce information re-reads and corrections by around 20%. This philosophy offers a cleaner data stream and less noise.
I happen to have the Cyrus i9-XR integrated amplifier with this review sample to get a feel for the Cyrus brand. It is a classy, premium piece of equipment claiming 91W per channel into 6 Ohms. The Cyrus i9-XR integrated amplifier has 4 analogue inputs, 1 phono MM input, 2 optical and 2 coaxial digital inputs as well as a USB-B asynchronous input.
As we discovered in the Pre-XR, the Cyrus QXR DAC platform as seen in the i9-XR is a quality proposition.
What is XR?
XR is the new flagship premium line from Cyrus, and it is a delight. It features a fundamental rethinking of their approach to audiophile products and includes a reworking of basic elements like circuit topology (the layout of the track as I understand it with power flows and signal paths correctly managed) that have been completely remodelled by Cyrus, their objective is less noise of course. Additionally, with XR, power supplies have been remodelled ground up to offer the cleanest supply in each component.
XR also consists of the second generation QXR DAC that is similarly remodelled and is now ESS based over the old Burr-Brown DACs found in the classic CDi.
All of these XR design elements are included in the CDt-XR (not the QXR DAC though) to offer the lowest noise, there is even a new loading mechanism. Additionally, the digital output from the CDt-XR is reclocked before leaving the box for ultimate clarity and timing.
The Cyrus i9-XR integrated amplifier, additionally has copper relays (like train points) switching input paths rather than using solid-state switches. In the i9, there is a suite of digital filters as seen in the Pre-XR.
The Cyrus CDt-XR oozes quality in the phantom black finish that is standard with Cyrus XR products. It features touch buttons and an LCD screen that can be turned off with the supplied remote control. Retaining the classic Cyrus half-width chassis this is a box befitting the premium label it commands.
Cyrus CDt-XR dimensions are (H x W x D) 73 x 215 x 360 mm and it is a svelte 3.7kg. It is priced at £2,495. Interestingly the CDi-XR is £2,195.
Cyrus i9-XR is 6.5kg and has the same dimensions as the CDt, it is priced at £3,295. The i7-XR (52W/ch) integrated amplifier is £2,495.
Principally, because I’m very familiar with it, I’m using the Moor Amps Angel-preamplifier with a Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplifier. I’m converting the digital output from the Cyrus CDt-XR through the iFi Pro iDSD (fixed output) with the SPDIF coaxial output from the CDt. Otherwise, I’ve used the optical output straight into the Rega Elicit Mk5 DAC input, for fun, and the Cyrus i9-XR integrated amplifier’s DAC input. I’ve also gone optical into the Earmen Tradutto DAC, which is a fine, no fuss, clean DAC, then into the Moor Amps Angel-pre. The Angel 6 is driving the Kudos Cardea Super 20A loudspeakers.
I’m powering the Cyrus CDt-XR with an Atlas Eos power cable, instead of the one in the box.
I am comparing the CDt-XR with an Oppo BDP 105 which many HiFi reviewers swear by myself included (the 205 is the one to have really). I just use it daily as a CD transport which offers coaxial or optical output to a DAC.
The Cyrus CDt-XR has just coaxial and optical output so there are bags of room to find a DAC. The Cyrus i9-XR, however, is cramped at the back, I don’t recall having quite such a problem with the Pre-XR but I guess there were no speaker cables about. This is clearly not much of an issue once you’re up and running but with the headphone output at the back, the rear of the i9 is a bit of a mess, to be honest.
The remote control is excellent and very responsive. It pairs nicely with the i9-XR functionality and you can switch between the boxes with ease. Turning off display brightness for example. The remote lights up on the slightest movement which is ideal for nighttime dark listening.
With Kudos Cardea Super 20A loudspeakers
I’m bound to say I am enjoying the i9-XR, and it is clearly an accurate, agile, and punchy little thing and it is driving the speakers along with gusto.
Playback, with the Kudos Cardea Super 20A loudspeakers driven by the powerful Angel 6, is nothing short of an audio nirvana and the clarity and width on offer from the CDt are crystal clear to hear through the iFi Pro iDSD offering full information to the listener.
I’m bound to say I am enjoying the i9-XR, and it is clearly an accurate, agile, and punchy little thing and it is driving the speakers along with gusto. However, I personally prefer the Angel 6 power amplifier (as I would) and I’m getting a more enjoyable experience with the CDt. This is obviously a fairly unfair comparison given the Angel 6 is in a different league to the i9 but it is interesting to note just how clean this CDt is with my own amplifier arrangement and I’m willing to suggest the CDt sounds at least as good as streamed HiRes tracks with the iFi Pro iDSD streaming DAC.
For example, take The House of the Blue Danube by Malcolm McClaren (from the album Waltz Darling, with Bootsy Collins). There is a huge amount of width from the CDt-XR that I’m hearing, particularly with the tipping cymbal hat in the top left in the left-hand speaker (it works, trust me). Streaming the same track (Tidal 16-bit, 44.1kHz) through the same iFi DAC with the mconnect App that same sense of width is accessible, and it is something I’ve rarely heard so clearly.
I have been spinning CDs I have barely listened to for years, Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach is imposing, relentless and powerful, whereas Lucy Rose’s Something’s Changing is delicate, accurate and beautiful, with a notable low-end response, driven by the Angel 6. The CDt-XR reveals all with this downstream setup.
It is time for a bit of orchestral music to see how the CDt handles the complex noise, one of my favourite CDs is Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto played by Ashkenazy (on DECCA). Here the CDt-XR delivers the swirling music with love, there’s a special moment always at 2’28” when there is an abrupt pause and you can hear the transient waves fade beautifully, it gets me every time.
The only SACD I have plays absolutely beautifully on the Cyrus CDt-XR which is great. Does anyone buy SACDs? It feels to me that if you have a CD player like the Cyrus CDt-XR you’d probably not be too excited by SACDs.
If you’re into CDs … you’re in luck, this is the one.
If you’re into CDs and have a £2k budget and a decent DAC on hand, like this iFi Pro iDSD, you’re in luck, this is the one. This is the first time since I’ve had the Oppo 105, I would consider a different CD player that is better, but I think this is it.
The Cyrus CDt-XR is one of the clearest examples of the ‘less is more’ philosophy in audiophile HiFi.
The Cyrus CDt-XR benefits from a super-low noise floor and in this arrangement, it is crisp, accurate and offers clarity that will expose your HiFi setup if there are any weaknesses. Be careful with this Cyrus CDt-XR, you may need to upgrade other parts of your setup and it might cost you! The Cyrus CDt-XR is one of the clearest examples of the ‘less is more’ philosophy in audiophile HiFi.
Equipment doing one job, really well
Turn the display off
Less is more
I’d quite like to keep this one.
Full details are on the company’s site.