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Article Index
Cyrus Stream X
p2 Set up and use
p3 Sound quality
p4 Conclusion
p5 Measured performance
All Pages

SOUND QUALITY
If the Cyrus Stream X justifies its price it is through sound quality. Where streamed music usually sounds lacklustre and dynamically flat, this unit produced a pristine and dynamically lively delivery from CDs ripped to lossless AIFF in iTunes. Treble sparkled from cymbals in the Eagles ‘Somebody’ and I could tell straight away, as this is a much played test track, that sound quality seemed unusually good – too good!

 
Sure enough, making a direct comparison against the original CD, played in both a low jitter Cambridge 650BD Blu-ray player acting as transport, and a Cyrus CDt transport, against the streamed version, showed that some general congestion and turgidness had disappeared from the streamed copy, making vocals clearer and more intelligible. The bass line was a trifle more forceful, its presence just more obvious than being submerged in a general messiness. There was a slightly better feeling of general cohesiveness and even tonal balance from the streamed version too. Both transports seemed to upset things a little, the Cambridge adding most turgidness, the Cyrus transport adding a little mid-band shout, heard as an almost megaphonic effect to vocals. The streamed version was smooth and even in balance and a little fuller and more dense in its textures too.

 
As both sources (i.e. 2011 Mac Mini and Cambridge 650BD), under our measurements produce negligible jitter, and as the Stream X is one of the best sounding streamers I have heard to date, it would appear it is able to clean a digital signal to improve it. I noticed the same improvement to AAC compressed files on my iPhone that I never quite take seriously, such as Jackie Leven’s ‘Call Mother a Lonely Field’. As I have this on LP and CD the downloaded Apple version in 128kbps AAC is easy to dismiss but played through the Stream X it came to life. Again, the Stream X reduced the muddle and improved the sense of dynamism, adding life and zest.

 
Streaming 24/96 uncompressed AIFF files such as a live blues recording moved sound quality easily ahead of CD. In its ability both to handle high resolution uncompressed music files without stuttering, spitting or difficulty, and produce great sound quality from them, the Stream X is a very strong performer. Gorgeous stage depth, big resonant strikes on kettle drum and a lovely aura of smoothness and civility characterised Minnesota Orchestra playing Rimsky Korsakov’s ‘The Snow Maiden’. Whatever I played the Stream X had a taut low frequency performance that made for clean, powerful bass lines and impactful percussion. It brings music to life and 24/96 recordings were wonderfully enjoyable, a welcome move up the quality ladder from CD.



 

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