AUGUST 2014 •114
Cyrus Lyric 09 system
yrus Audio is no stranger to UK readers, but
its half-width ‘singing shoeboxes’ sometimes
struggle to make their mark outside of the
British Isles. This, coupled with the significant
changes in the type of product people buy
today, meant Cyrus needed to make something bigger and
that is capable of being all things to all people. Lyric is the
result. Lyric is the first full-width product that Cyrus has made,
but it retains much of the cast aluminium casework, albeit with
a glass facia, a clever non-print coated glass facia at that. This
is both smooth to the touch, and leaves engineers wondering
how they got that finish to look so good – something (with
the greatest of respect) not normally associated with Cyrus
products and its typically rugged-feel castings.
Lyric comes in two flavours, 05 and the 09 tested here;
the latter offering greater power and a better DAC than the
former, at a price differential of £750. But what is Lyric? It’s a
preamp, power amp, FM and DAB tuner, CD player, network
streamer, and DAC in one box. Some elements are culled
from existing Cyrus products; the streaming engine comes
from Stream X, and the CD transport has the ‘servo evolution’
control system from CDt. The DAC comes from the CDi CD
player, and is a 32-bit device able to accept inputs up to
24/192 in PCM. Apparently, Cyrus will “never, ever” embrace
DSD according to Peter Bartlett. For now, at least.
by Jason Kennedy
The most radical bit of Lyric is the power amplifier, a
hybrid of analogue and Class D approaches, which has a large
toroidal transformer-based linear power supply and a Class D
output stage. This gives the Lyric its high 170 watt power
rating, but without the weight of a similarly powerful Class
A/B design. This is because the efficiency of the output stage
allows for a relatively small power transformer. It also runs
fairly cool for a high power amp. Apparently, this technology
was developed for a forthcoming standalone power amp
from Cyrus with even more power, and if Lyric is anything to
go by, that could be very interesting indeed.
One of the weaknesses of some Class D implementations
can be sensitivity to the impedance of the loudspeaker
load, meaning the amp’s character may not be predictable
from one speaker to another. Cyrus has taken the step of
building in automatic impedance matching to the attached
loudspeaker. It does this at switch on, so don’t make the
mistake of switching on before hooking up, because that
rather undermines the process, I found!
Lyric changes its display if you put your hand near it,
showing track title, album, and artist over the cover art that
it displays when streaming. A quick scroll through the menu
reveals that inputs can be named and the analogue one can
be converted to AV direct (effectively cutting out the volume
control). You can also specify 2.0 or 2.1 speaker set up and
backlighting has three modes. Being Cyrus’ attempt to woo
the smartphone generation it is also ‘made for’ all things iOS,
and can stream wirelessly from any phone with aptX enabled
Bluetooth. Control is achieved with a supplied remote that
lights up its buttons when you move it. Unlike the n-Remote
supplied with classic Cyrus products, this does not have a
screen nor is it rechargeable. Instead, you are encouraged to
use the Cadence app on your Android or iOS device, a piece
of software that seems to work well on both platforms. It
even has buttons for Wikipedia info look-up as well as instant
social media links, so that you can tell the world what you are
enjoying on your Lyric, in the musical equivalent of a selfie.
Internet radio is covered by TuneIn, which requires a small
amount of computer interaction to set up presets. In addition,
both A and B variants of the USB input are available for
computer audio, memory sticks or tablet/phone connection.
In other words, it can do almost everything, all the time.
But does it encourage you to listen? Yes, is the short
answer. For a start it’s intuitive to set-up and use. If you wire
Lyric into the network with an Ethernet cable, you don’t
even need to use a password; it’s ready to roll. The supplied
handset is a little unconventional, with unusual graphics
in place of words, but it doesn’t take long to learn. More
importantly, once you have the app, the remote becomes
almost redundant, but might prove useful for volume and
play/pause. The volume wheel on the Cadence app works
nicely though, allowing small volume changes (unlike most
slider designs) and the level is writ large on the unit’s display.
In fact, all the key info on the app is reflected in that small front
panel screen, including album art.
Hooked up to PMC fact.8 loudspeakers with Townshend
Isolda cable, the sound is pacey and very open. It is also
uncannily clean. That’s not a bad thing; it is a large part of
the Lyric 09’s sonic appeal, and the wider appeal of Cyrus
products in general. The Cyrus Lyric 09 makes many of
its rivals sound a little grubby or earthy in comparison, but
without the ‘shiny’ sound that you might expect from an amp
designer over-compensating. It has excellent depth when
the recording allows, and always works well with regard to
tempo. There is a slight emphasis on the mids and highs,
which enhances the sense of space and subtly reinforces
leading edges, but it also brings out a lot of detail. Norah
Jones is in fine fettle singing ‘Court and Spark’ with Herbie
Hancock [River: The Joni Letters, Verve], where you can
follow the brushwork of the drummer with ease yet its easy to
become immersed in the song.
The CD player is also pretty decent, a bit of Mozart opera
sounding very even-handed and spacious. Once again, scale
and image depth aren’t as strong as with streamed material,
but the disc gives up a lot of precision and poise. The digital
input, coax, is likewise rather engaging. I hooked up a rather
more expensive streamer in the Naim NDS and heard the
benefits that it brings in close to full effect. These amount
to far denser resolution, which makes things more realistic,
warm, and musically complete. Timing was clearly superior
as well, and this made the combo very hard to put down,
which proves the strengths of the DAC and amplifier side of
Lyric. Going one step further and connecting the analogue
output of an Antelope Platinum DSD DAC (also fed by the
NDS) brought greater focus, much enhanced image depth,
and a more realistic/less obviously open presentation. But
it’s important to remember that the source and DAC here
are considerably more expensive than Lyric. However, this
shows that the amplifier is not a limiting factor and makes me
very keen to get my hands on the power amp that Cyrus is
launching in the autumn.
Using the Cyrus alone and hooking it up to the Vivid Giya
G3 speakers that have been distracting me of late proved
to be a very enjoyable and enlightening experience. Gregory
Porter’s ‘No Love Dying’ [Liquid Spirit, Blue Note] sounded
positively sumptuous; calm yet taut, and smooth enough to
be turned up to 11. That was achieved with the CAD CAT used
as NAS; switching to a Naim UnitiServe added considerable
leading edge bite that gave the song more drive and energy, if
undermining the degree of resolution. In this set up, the Naim
worked a little better, with this polished album at least.
Contrasting Lyric with a Naim SuperUniti streamer/
amp (but not tuner or CD player) increased the sense of
involvement at the cost of a coarser presentation. The groove
got stronger through the Naim and one’s inclination to drop
pressing affairs and listen became harder to resist, but many
may plump for the greater sheen of the Lyric 09.
Lyric is a tour de force for Cyrus. The sound quality
combined with the feature count and sheer ease of use puts
it in the premier league. The amplifier is a major upgrade on
virtually all multi-source, single box solutions and makes Lyric
good enough for some very revealing loudspeakers. This is a
product for today! +
Inputs: CD, Optical SPDIF x 2, Coaxial SPDIF x 2, USB A x 2
iPhone, iPod & iPad compatible, USB B x 1, Bluetooth
Stereo RCA, Streaming via UPnP or DLNA, DAB+, FM,
TuneIn Radio
File compatibility: WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, MP3, WMA,
Outputs: Speaker out x 1 stereo pair, Configurable line
out x 2, 3.5mm headphone jack
Sample rate: Up to 24 bit/192kHz
DAC: 32 bit
Continuous power: 170 watts per channel (into 8 Ohms)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 10.5 x 42 x 32cm
Weight: 9kg
Price: £3,000
Manufacturer: Cyrus Audio
Tel: 01480 435577
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