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Cyrus Stream XR

Sometimes, in order to make progress, you must first take a step back. Cyrus was relatively early to market with network audio products but its in-house streaming platform didn’t prove as easy to evolve to meet challenging requirements as some rivals.

Rather than continue with something that was falling behind the power curve, Cyrus elected instead to license third party software and in doing this, it pulled off a bit of a masterstroke. The Stream XR is one of two new streamers that both use the BluOS operating system developed by Lenbrook and commonly encountered in NAD and Bluesound products. 

This software gives the Stream XR some useful attributes. BluOS supports a vast swathe of streaming services and offers pretty much unconditional stability. Plus, the Lenbrook mothership has just purchased the MQA hi-res encoding system which could well feature strongly in future BluOS developments.

The trump card though is how it works across multiple devices. The Cyrus can join up to 41 other BluOS devices on one network, all controlled by the same excellent control app. If you have more than one room to put music in, there is very little that gets anywhere near BluOS as a platform for doing this. Against this, the relatively limited maximum sample rate support of 24/192 and no DSD has to be weighed up. The reality for most people is that the Cyrus will play back all the music they ever use but some rivals do offer more capability. 

It is important to stress that the Lenbrook involvement in the Cyrus ends with the BluOS section. The Stream XR’s decoding is entirely an in house effort, built around an its own DAC that is also fitted to the matching integrated amplifiers. This is implemented in a manner that is very traditionally Cyrus, where each component has been exhaustively selected and laid out in such a way as to maximise performance. 

There’s also a traditionally Cyrus way of extracting more performance from the Stream XR too. As standard, it is powered by a standard IEC mains socket but you can also add the company’s PSU-XR power supply which takes on responsibility for the digital board, further isolating it from the outside world. My only bugbear with this  is the same as other Cyrus products in that the Stream XR takes up two mains sockets in this configuration. 

The connectivity of the Cyrus is good rather than spectacular. There is a single RCA analogue out, which Cyrus describes as line level but also has a perfectly functional volume control should you wish, partnered with optical and coaxial digital outputs. There is also a matching optical and coaxial input as well (which as most matching Cyrus integrated amps are festooned with digital inputs probably won’t see that much use. 

Sound Quality 

It can be tempting to look at the Cyrus and, because of the software involved, assume it is going to be something along the lines of Lenbrook/ BluOS product, the relatively reasonable priced, Bluesound Node in a posh metal box. It takes about ten minutes of listening to establish that this is not the case and the Cyrus is very much a Cyrus where it matters. Where this manifests itself most readily is the speed and fluency on offer.

The Stream XR is unphased by any time signature or tempo and even the most urgent of material is handled with an assurance and sheer agility that makes even very talented rivals sound a little leaden.

In the old days, this speed came at the price of really deep bass but that’s no longer the case. The low end on offer here is muscular and detailed. The Cyrus effortlessly squeezes a little more low end out of a system than you might expect it to be capable of and does so while integrating beautifully with the rest of the frequency response. The effect is that you don’t really pick out a ‘smooth midrange’ or ‘well controlled treble’ because the Cyrus is exceptionally even from top to bottom.

Plus, it’s extremely forgiving. The XR digital board is able to ensure that well mastered material is delivered in a wholly engaging way but, when it’s time to enjoy something from your collection that’s less perfect, you can still in fact enjoy it. This balance is something that has really come on in leaps and bounds with the recently released QXR digital board and the Stream XR benefits hugely from it. 

What results is something that is recognisably Cyrus in its presentation but manages to demonstrate considerable evolution over older digital front ends. Where once, that excitement and drive came with costs that left more than a few people cold, here you can enjoy something which is capable of tremendous musical engagement while demonstrating a sweetness and delicacy that makes for a more flexible partner. This is still not the most spacious sounding device you can buy at the price but neither is the effect like wearing a giant pair of headphones either. The soundstage that the Stream XR creates tends to sit within the speakers rather than extend beyond them but this can have the very positive side effect of ensuring that smaller scale music is delivered in a manner that sounds entirely convincing. 

Living with the Stream XR 

Cyrus’ decision to plump for the BluOS software pays dividends the moment you take it out of the box. Setting the Stream XR up is simplicity itself because every aspect of the process has been exhaustively tested and refined. There are no unwelcome surprises or points that have you scurrying to the manual. In the classic sense of the phrase, it just works. What’s more, you are gaining access to an ecosystem with a product for every occasion. Want a speaker for the kitchen?, a sound bar? Even a full fat AV receiver? Models exist that will join the same control interface and sync perfectly with the Cyrus. You might be beguiled by the idea of DSD support on rivals but the reality is that this is a much more useful feature. 

The Stream XR benefits from the ‘phantom black’ casework of the XR Series and the result is a good looking and immaculately finished device. One neat advantage of the half width case is that you can put the streamer and a matching amp (or indeed the matching power supply) in the space that many rivals take up on their own. You also get a small but legible display which gives some additional information and the excellent Cyrus system driving remote control which is no looker but can be set up to control other devices in your system. The strong performance is utterly painless to access.


The Stream XR is a tremendous return to streaming audio from Cyrus. By using one of the best software platforms in the business, they’ve showcased their obvious sonic talents in a way that is truly enjoyable to live with. This is a phenomenal product. 

Listening notes

Hidden Orchestra To Dream is to Forget

A mass of differing and often complex timescales and rhythms, this album shows off the exceptional musical agility of the Cyrus and makes for a dynamic and compelling listening experience. 

Skinny Puppy Bites

In the old days, you would have revelled in the speed and potency of this early bit of industrial but nudged the volume down as things got a bit harsh. On the Stream XR, the tempo is addictive but it’s now mated to a refinement that allows you to wind the wick up.

The Horrors Skying

The way that the Stream XR unpicks this dense and intense album is truly compelling, underpinning it with excellent bass and excellent tonality across vocals and instruments. It’s not a reproduction, it’s a performance. 

What the press say

Why you should buy it

If you see yourself adding more devices to your household, there is very little to touch the Stream XR and this flexibility has been achieved without sonic compromise. Very few other devices demonstrate this balance so well. 

Video review

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