Cyrus Audio ONE HD ($1499): A multi-versed masterpiece
Intro: AmericaHiFi is an authorized North American reseller for Cyrus Audio components and put out a call for reviewers on Head-Fi. I was one of the lucky six chosen (congrats to all!). All that was asked is for an honest review and to use the Cyrus ONE HD in as many configurations as possible. I was able to include my Linn Sondek Axis turntable as part of the review, which was a nice change from DAP’s. Upon completion, the unit will be carefully repacked and sent on to the next lucky participant.
To say this is a versatile unit would be an understatement. This can essentially replace your home amp set up, except for the video aspect. Used at the office, or in a dedicated listening center, this could very well be the perfect unit. The One HD is capable of powering front speakers (2 x 100W, but I did not try this), and includes a large toroidal transformer to power a class AB headphone amplifier (up to 700mA output, so plenty) as part of the package. With the ability to hook up your turntable (convertor in unit), as well as speakers and other goodies; the unit is indeed diverse.
· Asynchronous USB 2.0 input – up to 32/192 signals, and DSD 64 and DSD 128
· Optical Toslink digital input – up to 24/192 signals
· Coaxial SPDIF digital input – up to 24/192 signals
· RCA input to built-in MM phono stage
· aptX® HD compatible Bluetooth audio
· 3 x line level inputs – including AV integration option
· Pre outputs – connect to additional power amplifiers
· High power, high voltage class AB headphone amplifier
· Bi-wire compatible speaker binding posts
· User upgradeable firmware
· Bluetooth control app
· Cyrus 4th generation Hybrid Class D amplifier
· Outputs 2 x 100W (into 6 Ω at 0.1% THD+N)
· SID – Speaker Impedance Detection
· Linear power supply
1300V/us Slew Rate
700mA max output current (per channel)
2x 1W max output power
Recommended headphone impedance 16 – 1200 Ohm
WEIGHTS AND DIMS
· Dimensions (H X W X D) – 85 x 220 x 390mm
· Weight – 5.6kg
Bluetooth Enabled – aptX®HD:
aptX® HD compatible Bluetooth enables you to stream better than CD quality music from your phone/tablet or computer via a wireless Bluetooth connection, providing maximum flexibility without the need for a home network or any complicated set up. This allows everyone in the family to enjoy their music from their portable devices quickly and easily.
2 x 100W gives class-leading power output that will drive most loudspeakers regardless of their size. All that power enables Cyrus ONE HD to present your music with a huge dynamic range, giving 3D detail and bags of energy without the need to buy big, bulky, inefficient amplifier boxes.
MM Phono Stage:
Cyrus ONE HD features a built-in phono stage that is compatible with all Moving Magnet cartridges and requires no adjustment or extra set up, enabling you to play all your favourite vinyl from most turntables.
Digital and analogue inputs:
Asynchronous USB, optical and SPDIF inputs enable you to connect your PC, TV, Games Console, CD player, indeed virtually any source, directly to the Cyrus ONE HD. Four analogue inputs include RCA terminals for a turntable and an AV input that can be set to fixed gain in order to integrate with a separate AV amplifier.
Class AB Headphone Amplifier:
Uniquely, when headphones are connected, the large toroidal transformer is switched to power just the headphone section. These huge reserves of power result in a high power, high voltage class AB headphone amplifier that will drive almost all headphones with ease. The resulting musical performance is on a par with most standalone headphone amplifiers.
Speaker Impedance Adjustment:
SID – Speaker Impedance Detection automatically matches the amplifier’s output response to the electrical load of the loudspeakers. This means that matching Cyrus ONE HD to any brand of loudspeaker has suddenly been made so much easier.
In The Box:
Cyrus ONE HD unit
- Comparisons/Gear used:
- MacBook Pro
- Shanling M6 Pro
- Cayin N6ii (E01 motherboard)
- Cayin C9 ($2200)
- iFi iDSD/iCAN ($2200 each)
- XDuoo TA-30 ($710)
- Teac UD-05 ($1699)
- Audeze LCD-3
- ZMF Eikon
- Kennerton Magni (V2)
- Empire Ears Hero (PW Helix Initiale cable)
- Empire Ears Legend X (Eletech Socrates cable)
DDHiFi adapters as needed
Linn Sondek Axis turntable
I opened the big box to find a smaller box inside. Opening that I was met with form fitting Styrofoam (in plastic protection), which held the unit firmly in place. The unit is fairly big, and fairly heavy. When looking at how well it was protected, I expected a larger unit. Overly protecting a unit is a good thing.
Back: As listed above, there are a plethora of input options on the back, from USB connectivity to MM turntable to APEX BT. I mainly focused on the USB and RCA SPDIF options for testing through my MBP and Shanling/Cayin DAP’s mentioned above.
Front: Dominating the glossy front are two very large knobs (too big to me). The left one controls the inputs, clicking near-silently through your options. The right knob controls the volume, and as @Dramlin excellently tested, each “click” is not equivalent to an LCD light “step” on the dial. While I appreciate the incremental adjustment ability, not having the LED’s move in an equivalent manner leads you to much turning of the knob. Also mentioned is how there is only a memory for the input device, not the volume. Adding in a memory for volume would be appreciated or at the least a lowering should you turn the unit off with extreme volume levels.
Under the knobs are the on/off button to the left and a single 6.35mm headphone jack on the right. I found that using adapters put the cables in the way of the knob, so this area also needs a bit of work. Plus, offering a 4.4bal jack might have been an option, but not knowing the necessary internal changes needed, I was OK with the single jack. Plus, it sounded so good that I did not miss the balanced option.
With a small footprint, the ONE HD will take up little space on your desk or shelf. It is rather deep, but I find this to be OK, as it means the cables could be closer to the back of a shelf, as opposed to running onto the shelf.
The unit is top notch, with no visible flaws, as one would expect.
With the ability to run all of your device options, it used to be that something suffered. Either the sound of a device, or some part was an afterthought or used a cheaper component. Staring with (to me) the excellent iFi duo of iDSD Pro and iCAN, this rapidly changed to utilizing quality connections options across the spectrum. There are hook ups I shall most likely never use on my iFi duo, but I am glad they are included, nonetheless. The Cyrus takes that back a bit and all of the connections are from the most popular and most likely will be used in the homeowners set up. It is as simple as switching using the left knob and you can quickly move to BT from your Smartphone through speakers or headphones. Most companies have this option now, which is appreciated. Ideally a remote would be included, which would run both input and volume controls. Something with which to think.
I shall leave that to those better versed than I in such things.
As stated above, I used the ONE HD mainly with my MBP and the two DAP’s listed. I shall provide cross-sectional sound musings throughout.
Summary: The ONE HD comes across as clean and clear, with enough air between notes to provide a spacious listening environment. Near neutral, without coloring the sound or making the quality antiseptic, or without body, the ONE HD presents an open cleanliness to the sound, which is refreshing. Separation is very good as a result, which can sometimes lead to a thinning quality of sound. Not here. While not holographic, the soundstage fills in wonderfully with precision and accuracy towards placement and harmonics. What I hear is true, clean and detailed. Hooking up a less than neutral DAP, such as the Shanling M6 Pro or the Cayin N6ii E01 shows the source sound through cleanly. That warm, richness of each source is not culled going through the Cyrus. If the source is rich, the sound emanating from within is rich as well. Don’t take this as the ONE HD is colored at all, but because it is near-neutral, allows that character of the presentation to come through, and cleanly.
First and foremost, I used the MBP/USB connection, while streaming Tidal. Using all manners of headphones and IEM’s, I found the sound quite stunning; on par with many of the best I have heard of late such as the Teac UD-505 and my iFi duo. As mentioned above, the ONE HD provides stunning clarity to your music, with I will add a tinge of bass push. Nothing like an added bass, but the tuning to me while near-neutral adds some rich texture to the low-end. And the speed of this is good. Not such a fast decay that the sound becomes analytical, but that richness is afforded the stage.
The mids are quite good, as is the overall character. I find it hard to differentiate individual sections here and will not separate them out much. There is ample air between notes, which also affords the sound to come through with a clean detailed presentation. Vocals such as Adele are superb. Aretha Franklin is sublime in her rich character tone, with a bit of that low-down gut, which makes for a wonderful listen. Throwing on Billie Holiday after that and you really have to just sit back and enjoy. One of if not the finest voice the western world has ever known, her vocals sublimely slip through the ONE HD to your gray matter. The world stops for those brief instances and you simply enjoy.
With not equalization settings, you are left to your own devices; literally. And much like I do not miss the extras on the E01 motherboard inside the N6ii, I do not miss the tinkering here. Switching to the EE Legend X/Eletech Socrates, from the Hero/PW combination, I am rewarded with deeper reach of bass and a less forward treble. The ability of the Cyrus to cross listening devices is very, very good. Switching to Bluetooth on my iPhone XS Max and Damian Marley’s Looks Are Deceiving gives bass that is divine. While it does not have the clarity of other sources, the ability for that quick BT listen is well worth it.
Alex Fox through Tidal and the Audeze LCD3’s sound superb. Succinct guitar strokes highlight a vibrant tonality, which comes across as clean and full of detailed clarity as most high dollar amps I have heard. This is not meant to put color into your sound, but rather let you experience the sound directly from the source. Hence my previous verbiage regarding the sound from the Shanling & Cayin DAP’s. Sometimes coloring your sound (or EQing to your tastes) is good, but when you already may have a colored sound DAP such as those I list, then it is refreshing to hear that come through perfectly. This is one fine unit.
Moving to a closed-back unit such as my ZMF Eikon reveals yet again what can happen when you send a clean, clear stream of bits and bite through electrical current. Having more bass than the Atticus, the Eikon is a wonderful complement to the LCD3. Providing excellent separation and bass response provides me with a good judge of the differences between the LCD3. A bit harder to drive, I had to push the volume up one LED to match the volume (seat of the pants). What I found was a bit more intimate than the Audeze, but that is to be expected due to the closed-back nature. I will add that with each finger pluck of the strings, I received an excellent sense of placement and depth from this combination.
It seems whatever the listening device, the sound comes across as it is meant to be. The EE Legend X provides that deep rich bass note. The EE Hero does as well with more push of the treble. And the full-sized headphones are exactly as expected. Sublime in presentation.
Cyrus Audio ONE HD ($1499) v Cayin C9 ($2200):
In house as well, the C9 is most likely the finest portable amp IO have tested. That includes my vaunted iFi micro Black Label. Superbly defined with either a push of tube-like sound, or not; the C9 is powerful and a true masterpiece. Costing roughly ½ again what the ONE HD does, the user will need to decide how they want to proceed. I know that given the option and funds, the C9 would go with me everywhere. If we talk about versatility, then hands down the Cyrus wins. But it is meant to, what with all of the connectivity options. If we look strictly at sound, the C9 can definitely hold its own with the ability to full in/out balanced through the 4.4bal connections. I was stunned by how good it is to be honest. A dream amp for me, it would be, and it would replace all of my others.
Cyrus Audio ONE HD ($1499) v iFi iDSD/iCAN ($2200 each):
When I tested both iFi models a few years ago, I ended up purchasing the iDSD because of its superior DAC capabilities. It has sufficient power for me as well, driving everything I could throw at it. And do so with a warmth & richness I crave. Coming upon a used iCAN, I jumped to complete my system. This is my pinnacle, with all of the connectivity options of the ONE HD except for phono. And strictly speaking, the iFi duo is meant for headphones and IEM’s. The Bass Boost+ and 3D options are wonderful as well, adding in bass to the Cayin Fantasy when I auditioned that not too long ago. This is one powerful, rich, vibrant set up.
If you want a richness to your sound, with the on the fly options to change filters and the bass/3D then the iFi is the way to go, even singularly. It is a warm sound, which will not appeal to all, but fits my bill perfectly. If on the other hand, you want all of that connectivity without the adjustments, and a near neutral sound, which will give you what you desire from your source. Had I not already had the iFi duo, I would seriously consider purchasing the ONE HD as my all-in-one go-to amp, even without all of the adjustability’s.
Cyrus Audio ONE HD ($1499) v XDuoo TA-30 ($710):
The TA-30 came my way after a fellow reviewer loaned his. I contacted my vendor almost immediately and purchased one. I do not regret it, even with the iFi duo above. The XDuoo is insanely powerful and provides all the options I would need for connectivity, except phono. I did change tubes upon my friend’s recommendation and when I need a kick on from other items, the TA-30 is often my choice to rejuvenate my listening. At roughly ½ the price, it is an excellent “bargain” even if it does not have all of the connecting options of the Cyrus. But it does, except for a couple.
Not as clean as the Cyrus, nonetheless, the TA-30 is very vibrant in tone. Not overly bright, but with the ability to change the tone simply by changing tubes, it is more versatile in that regard. And did I mention it is insanely powerful? I do not know a headphone on the planet that it cannot drive and drive well. Coming with only an 6.35mm jack as well as the Cyrus is no bother as well.
Cyrus Audio ONE HD ($1499) v Teac UD-05 ($1699):
On another tour, the Teac came my way, and I did not regret it. From my finale: “Lately, I have shied away from actually coming out and saying, “GO BUY THIS!” Because, it really should be your choice, and your alone. I can tell you what I like and what I do not like, which can help but short of listening you are pressed to read the reviews. And here, I can tell you that if you value detail, clarity and a good air of note between then the Teac might just be a good fit for you. While some might balk at the cost, others may just say that this is an excellent value for it can run in my home system (as a pre-amp) and desktop, easily hooking up my portable DAP from the commute as well. That “value” of services cannot be underestimated, nor should it be overlooked.”
In other words, you could justify this unit for its multi-dimensional use (just like the Cyrus) and abilities. From memory, the airiness between notes is a bit better with the Teac, but slightly colored. If you do not mind that, the Teac is an excellent unit (another reviewer I respect VERY much has an older model), if you prefer a cleaner “less-colored,” parenthetically speaking; then the Cyrus is an excellent choice here.
Phono stage: Time constraints kept me from this aspect, one in which I was looking forward to very much.
Two weeks is a good long time to audition a unit. Unfortunately, “things” got in my way and I was only able to dedicate about 25 hours to the unit. I wish I had spent longer nights auditioning the unit, but even with that “short” 25 hours, I figured out the positives of the ONE HD. It did not take long for me to come and appreciate its cleanliness and lack of coloration (I have used that a lot, but it works…). Its ability to play across many sources and do so easily. Its ability to play powerful notes when called upon and be used across your home system, including vinyl (!) without hindering the source is a true positive. This is an excellent unit, even with the quirks mentioned above regarding the too large volume knobs, lack of volume memory and numerous rotations needed upon the volume wheel. At least with that last aspect, the volume does continue to raise or lower with each click.
The Cyrus ONE HD is an excellent unit, and one in which you can literally throw all your eggs into one basket, except video. That can be accommodated by hooking it up as a pre-amp and through speakers. But, to use this in a dedicated listening room or your office (that would be nice…) shows off the true merits and uses of the Cyrus. This is the unit, which allows you to separate yourself from the daily chores, in its own realm and across many devices at once. Had I not already purchased others; I might have come home with one due to its versatility. And that is about the highest praise I can give it.
I thank AmericaHiFi and Robert for the inclusion on this fantastic tour. The ONE HD is a superb unit and carries on (from what I hear) the excellent sensory options and listening’s of their other products. Best of luck to Cyrus and please continue making such fine devices as the ONE HD.