Monday, July 14, 2014

Cyrus Stream X Signature Review

by TechGameReview  |  in Specs at  4:58 AM

Cyrus Stream X Signature Review. Cyrus Audio's portfolio of components might appear bewildering, since they're all housed in the company's familiar diecast casework. CD transports, CD players, DACs, DACs with preamp functionality, various amplifier options... there are myriad ways to assemble a Cyrus Audio system depending on required features and your ultimate performance goals.

Cyrus Stream X Signature Review
File navigation is easy via the rotary control, despite simple display. You can also use the n-Remote or Cadence app.

And so it is with the company's network audio players: it has several models based around its current (v2) 'Stream X' core which offers 192kHz/24-bit playback across a wired LAN, and internet radio via the TuneIn portal. We tested the Stream XP2 Qx in HFN Aug '13. That model is a digital-input-only preamp with on-board DAC and network player.

Cyrus Stream X Signature Review
Two Toslink and three RCA digital inputs make the Stream X Signature a digital hub and the USB socket works with iDevices. Output is S/PDIF (RCA) only.

This time we're looking at Cyrus's latest Stream X Signature, a minimalist network player transport which simply has an S/PDIF (RCA) output. Less is more, claims the company: 'This separation produces a much clearer and deeper sound quality because the power source isn't being shared by multiple components.' For our tests we partnered it with a DAC XP Signature DAC/preamp. As a combo costing £4200 this makes the Cyrus the most expensive in our test.

All Cyrus network players are priced with the company's lovely n-remote, a bi-directional RF handset with colour screen that displays album artwork and parks in a re-charging dock. But if you'd rather control everything via a tablet or smartphone the Cyrus Cadence app (iOS and Android) is also fi rst-class – and you can save £200 without the n-remote.

Our listeners were initially impressed by the Cyrus combo's fulsome bass reproduction: the deep synthesizer bass notes underpinning Boz Scaggs' 'Thanks To You' were positively seismic via the Stream X Signature player and partnering DAC XP.

Tonality was 'rich' and high frequencies seductively smooth, but we soon noticed that fi ne details were masked and images somewhat hazy, particularly in this group context. Laurence Juber's acoustic guitar playing appeared mellow and mellifluous, yet this high resolution recording lacked its authentic 'snap' and familiar pristine clarity. Similarly the Melphi jazz combo appeared soft-focused and veiled. The contribution from the acoustic bass player was noticeably woolly and indistinct in the soundstage.

The Cyrus combination created a massive sonic picture of the Minnesota Orchestra, with good depth and sense of three-dimensionality. But again, timpani and basses were boomy and inarticulate, which spoiled instrumental specificity and image focus. Our listening panel assumed this to be the cheapest player in the group rather than premium-priced.


While the Stream X Signature's network connectivity performed flawlessly, the test results necessarily reflect the performance of the partnering DAC XP Signature ‘digital preamp' connected here via a box-to-box S/PDIF link. Maximum output is a very high 8.3V/54ohm via its balanced XLRs, and distortion, even at this peak level, is very low indeed at 0.00025% through bass and midrange, increasing to a still impressive 0.0015% at 20kHz and 0.0025% at 30kHz with higher sample rate fi les. The 111.4dB A-wtd S/N is wide but could have been wider still bearing in mind the high maximum output. Noise-related jitter clearly increases from 48kHz through to 192kHz rates, up to a debilitating 7450psec [see Graph, below].

Cyrus Stream X Signature Lab Report
High resolution jitter spectrum with 24-bit/48kHz (black) and 24-bit/96kHz data (red) over a wired network.

The DAC XP Signature also has a slightly uplifted treble response, amounting to +0.17dB/20kHz (44.1/48kHz media), +0.52dB/40kHz (96kHz media) and +0.55dB/50kHz (to –4dB/90kHz with 192kHz fi les), while low-level linearity is good to –90dBFs becoming around ±1dB adrift at –100dBFs. Stereo separation is better than 78dB from 20Hz-20kHz.

VERDICT Sound Quality: 70%

Maximum output level/Impedance : 8.3Vrms / 54ohm
A-wtd S/N ratio : 111.4dB
Distortion (1kHz, 0dBFs/–30dBFs) : 0.00025% / 0.0007%
Distortion (20kHz, 0dBFs/–30dBFs) : 0.0015% / 0.0029%
Freq. response (20Hz-20kHz/45kHz) : –0.00dB to +0.17dB / –0.18dB
Digital jitter (48kHz/96kHz/192kHz) : 20psec / 1550psec / 7450psec
Resolution @ –100dB : ±0.5dB
Power consumption : 20W
Dimensions (WHD) : 220x70x360mm

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