Cyrus has been catering the lifestyle market since before that was even ‘A Thing’. Its very first product, the ‘One’ amplifier that launched four decades ago now, was contained in the half-width chassis that’s since become the company’s unique design vocabulary. In a world where ‘small’ is very often a synonym for ‘beautiful’, Cyrus got in on the ground floor.
And as well as its singular aesthetic, Cyrus has been refining its signature sound ever since the ‘One’ amp first went on sale too. It’s a rapid, detailed and dextrous sound the company aspires to, one of supreme manoeuverability and agility.
So as it’s a product of one of the few ‘proper’ hi-fi brands to have sought to refine and advance the art of the compact disc over the last decade or so, this new CDi-XR could conceivably be the last CD player you’ll ever need to buy.
Predictably, the Cyrus eye has been firmly on the audio ball - that much is apparent from the moment the CDi-XR starts playing. If it’s martially controlled power you want, extravagant levels of detail and extensive dynamic headroom, feel free to consider this CD player the answer to your prayers.
No matter the music, the accuracy and crystal-clear clarity of the Cyrus sound is strongly to the fore. It hits harder than previous Cyrus efforts have primed us to expect, but sacrifices none of its dexterity or on-a-sixpence suppleness - it can change direction like a hare. Muscularity like this quite often comes at the expense of fleetness, but not here.
The CDi-XR absolutely charges through dynamic variations, too - but again, it’s far from being a blunt instrument. It simply tracks the changes, whether they’re the broad ‘quiet/LOUD/quiet’ stuff or the more subtle harmonic variants, and reports on them in full. This sense of complete authority carries over to the amount of detail the Cyrus can extract from a CD, too - few, if any, alternative designs can compete. Nothing is overlooked, nothing is overstated - detail both broad and fine is handed over.
Most of all, though, the Cyrus is a thoroughly musical performer. The energy and animation it can imbue a recording with is almost unnerving - for a format that’s supposedly on the chilly and sterile side, the CDi-XR sounds organic and warm-blooded. In sonic terms it’s the most complete CD you can buy at anything like this money.
The Cyrus ‘XR’ may be an all-new range, but one look at the product will tell you the departure is far from radical. In most respects (particularly sonic) that’s a good thing, but not entirely.
The display, for instance, is brighter and crisper than previous Cyrus efforts - but that’s not to say it’s especially bright or crisp. The slot-loading transport mechanism is a crucial part of the Cyrus CD player success story - it allows the company to write its own control software in order to maximise the amount of data it can pull in a single read of the disc - but it’s generously described as ‘leisurely’ in accepting or returning a disc.
Those touch-controls are new, but they too are a success of the slightly qualified kind. When a control interface functions properly almost the whole time and is nearly always predictable, well, that’s another way of saying it’s a little less than perfect. The CDi-XR’s remote control is more reliable - once you’ve hunted down the button you’re after.
The CDi-XR looks pretty good, mind you, even if ‘phantom’ black is very similar indeed to ‘black’. It feels robust, it has a useful suite of outputs on its little rear panel - analogue, digital and a connection for the equally high-performance PSU-XR off-board power supply.
Where ergonomics are concerned, ‘paradigm’ is not the word that applies to the CDi-XR. Fundamentally, once you’ve loaded a disc and it’s playing, the Cyrus is outstanding company - it’s just that getting to that point is slightly more of a faff than you’re probably expecting.
If your requirements for a new CD player begin and end with ‘performance’, you may as well get your credit card out right now. In fact, so strongly does the Cyrus CDi-XR perform that it’s not a huge effort to overlook its ergonomic shortcomings.
Aretha Franklin Rock Steady
Hip-shaking, finger-popping, rug-cutting - you name it, the Cyrus embodies it when this tune is playing. And the new-found low-end substance has a home here too, which means this tune just glides. And it almost goes without saying the CDi-XR does sterling work with the hair-raising vocal too.
Stereolab The Flower Called Nowhere
In the wrong hands, this can sound a rather sterile and academic recording - but the Cyrus gets to the very heart of the tune and teases out the warmth and humanity. And it makes the gimpy rhythm undulate rather than stomp, too
Jack White Lazaretto
How do you like your rock music? Literate? Committed? With everything louder than everything else? The CDi-XR absolutely storms through this recording, finding the melody in the feedback and the smoothness hiding behind all the grit and grim
Nobody has overlooked the operational idiosyncrasies of the CDi-XR, but then again nobody has managed to establish them as a reason not to praise this CD player to the skies. What Hi-Fi? says it sets new standards at the asking price, while Stereo Magazine is little short of gushing when discussing the Cyrus’ ability with rhythm and harmonic coherence.
If you, like us, realise there’s life in the compact disc format, you’ll want to make the most of it. And the fact is this: the Cyrus CDi-XR is, pound-for-pound, the best-sounding CD player on the market. No question.