As someone with a side hustle as a music blogger, I spend a lot of time digging through hundreds of new bands and artists every week to try and find the next big thing. This passion has meant I have spent a small fortune over the years on HiFi equipment and headphones to make sure I have the best experience of listening to music possible.
So, when I heard that British audio pioneers Cyrus had launched a new integrated amplifier I was excited to get my hands on a unit for review. I had grown up with a love for Cyrus Mission hardware and speakers – my current HiFi setup is a still a pair of Missions for that matter – as not only had the company made itself a reputation for high quality gear at a reasonable price, but they were headquartered very near to where I grew up.
The Cyrus 1 was the name the company gave to its first amplifier back in the 1980s, and the new Cyrus One is an homage to that original product, showing that the company both knows where it comes from, but also that it is time for renewal.
Look & feel
When you pick the amp out of the box, the first thing that hits you is the weight – this black metal box is extremely well built. The design is pretty minimal, with just two large dials on the front, the left to choose your input and the right for volume, and that’s it besides a chunky 1/4″ (6.3mm) headphone jack. The whole black box measures a compact 85mm x 220mm on the front and 390mm deep, weighing a hefty 5.6kg.
On the back you’ve got four line-level inputs, including one with an AV bypass mode so the ONE can work as a power amplifier in a home cinema setup, a moving-magnet phone stage for a turntable, and your standard speaker binding posts for four speakers.
Setting up the amp is pretty much the same as connecting any other amp by adding any other separates you want to use, such as a turntable, CD player, or DAB radio, and then connecting your speakers. One thing you will notice every time you switch on the ONE, is the blue LEDs doing a little dance around the knobs – this light show is the ONE performing what Cyrus calls SID (speaker impedance detection), where the amp measures the impedance of the connected speakers and adjusts its output accordingly.
Alongside its standard line inputs, the ONE also has Bluetooth with AptX support available as one of the inputs on the left dial – making it easy to wirelessly connect your phone or laptop to the amp.
To setup Bluetooth, there are just three very simple steps:
- Switch on the ONE and rotate the left dial to select Bluetooth as the input
- After a few seconds switch on Bluetooth on your phone or laptop and the ONE should appear in the menu
- Select the ONE from the menu and wait a few seconds for it to pair
Setting up Bluetooth for wireless speakers is significantly easier than setting up WiFi, and means you can wirelessly connect to the amp in places where WiFi is not available, but I would have liked the ONE to also have had Chromecast Audio support. That said, there’s plenty of line inputs available, so buying a Chromecast Audio and plugging it into the ONE is a pretty cheap addition.
Right from the start I was very impressed by the clarity of sound produced by the ONE – it’s bright, lively, and clean, with Cyrus really showing their heritage as one of Britain’s best music technology firms.
Putting the amp through its paces with a selection of sounds with everything from Strange Boy’s cinematic ‘Corbusier‘, to the blues of Keb Mo’s ‘Am I Wrong’, to the classical oomph of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ the sounds stayed wonderfully balanced, with impressively tight low ends, giving a very clear experience.
By implementing the latest generation Class D technology in the ONE, Cyrus have managed to avoid the distortions that present themselves with thinner tracked circuit boards, and their SID technology gets around the traditional Class D problem of variable sound with different speakers – the ONE will make the best of your speakers without any additional setup.
After hours of testing out the ONE, the only slight negatives I found were that the credit card remote is a bit finickity to use and that there is no DAC or WiFi streaming options built in. However, Cyrus already offers a solution to both of these.
For the lack of a streaming option, Cyrus have teamed up with a variety of HiFi shops up and down the UK to bundle a Google Chromecast Audio with the ONE for no extra cost – and also comes with three months of access to the Tidal HD audio streaming service. I’ve raved about the utility of the Chromecast Audio before, and its great to see manufacturers see the value in bundling the little dongle to add all the streaming and multi-room benefits it brings.
The Cyrus ONE is a fantastic no-frills amplifier that punches way above its weight for the price. It is one of the few amps to offer CLass D tech in the sub-£1000 category, and the integration of Bluetooth (AptX) and the bundling of a Chromecast Audio means that whether you want to listen to vinyl, CDs, or your favourite Spotify Christmas playlists, this is a great option.
Price at the time of review: £699 with the streaming bundle available from select retailers.