Price: £600 Website:www.cyrus.co.uk Size (WxDxH): 22x7x36cm Weight: 3.7kg Output power (continuous, both channels): >40W/channel Inputs: 7 line level Outputs: Bi-wire loudspeakers, tape-out, preamp-out, headphone
Upgraded audiophile circuitry
Factory upgrades available
Cute and desirable aesthetics marry a competent sound that's revealing and very informative Minus points:
Competition is strong from the big players and some ears may prefer other models in terms of overall power and rhythmic capacity
Devotees of the familiar 'shoebox' half-width style of Cyrus hi-fi will be delighted to know the Cambridgeshire marque has released a number of new products in the last quarter of 2004 with more to follow early next year. This latest spread of product includes two integrated stereo amplifiers, the 6vs and 8vs and a small number of suitably priced CD players. The new amps effectively replace the existing 6 and 8 models bringing the electronics specialists' range up to date enough to fend off much of the competition into 2005.
All this hard work from Cyrus has come at a time when the company is experiencing significant change to its structure with a management buyout from parent company NXT (of flat-panel speaker fame). Indeed Cyrus has been through the hoops over the decades, first finding independence from then parent company Mission-Cyrus in 1998, and now standing on its own two thousand square feet.
The subtle and largely unpublicised changes to the 6 amplifier as identified by the vs suffix are a result of Cyrus allowing its top designers to create without the hindrance of management looking over their shoulders. The performance increases are largely based around the custom-made PCB (Printed Circuit Board) which has been modified and tweaked to squeeze the last few drops of audio performance from the amp's internals. Power is rated at 40 watts per channel (the 8vs offers 70), which although isn't huge when compared to Rotel's market-leading £600 RA-1062 for example, is still plenty for modest systems. Despite its diminutive size there is still room (just!) on the back panel for seven line inputs, a tape loop and twin pairs of binding posts for those wishing to bi-wire their loudspeakers.
The casework retains the familiar textured silver look and is made from non-ferrous alloy which is said to minimise disruption to fragile signal-carrying circuits. Build quality is rock solid and although small, the channel input buttons on the fascia have a very positive feel when depressed and the volume control is reassuringly smooth and free of slack. Most functions can be activated on the amp as well as the remote, but unlike its bigger brother the 8vs, the 6 is not compatible, possibly because at £400, the PSX-R unit ups the outlay by 66 per cent!
A much cheaper if significantly less noticeable upgrade would be to replace the mains lead for one of the many aftermarket items available - even 20 quid should help. For more in-depth improvement though, there is a clear upgrade path as you can at any time return the 6vs to the factory to upgrade to 8vs status for a couple of hundred quid, which then allows you to employ a PSX-R if desired. Clever.
It's good to hear that Cyrus will be continuing to allow its designers to develop their pet ideas as the performance of the 6vs clearly demonstrates that a little 'thinking out of the box' goes a long way. Despite packing just 40 watts the 6vs delivers a solid sound, bolstered with a tight low end and a pleasingly open midband. What it lacks in ultimate welly and control it more that makes up for in balance, in fact the 6vs has taken some of the 'edge' off the presentation compared to models that have gone before it, making it more natural and easier to integrate.
Spinning nu-metallers Sum 41 through the 6vs rewards the ears with more detail than you might normally expect for such distorted, angry rock. It retains much of the energy laid down in the music and offers an unforced presentation with easy-to-follow musical layers. A little more grunt would perhaps be useful when upping the wick, but it does what it says on the 40-watt tin.
Downshifting a few gears to kd lang's velvet-smooth Ingénue and the amp shows its class - vocals are clean, well projected and rich in textural information. Percussion is kept metronome-tight which creates a sense of 'rightness' that gives most types of music a head start.
Pushing hard with dance and rock reveals the power limitations, but for modest systems in moderately sized rooms the 6vs is more than capable. Time and again the 6vs entertained best with dense electronic material such as Future Sound Of London's quirky, effect-packed ambient textures, where samples and digitised sounds leaped out from the soundstage to raise a few eyebrows.
At just £600 the 6vs is a great introduction to the Cyrus ethos of modular, upgradeable hi-fi that looks as good as it sounds. After this dinky taster, here's looking forward to 2005's shoebox newcomers.
The result of Cyrus engineers' pet project, the 6vs amplifier is a solid bet for hi-fi sound without the bulk and awkwardness of a full-width unit. More refined than its predecessor and with great upgrade potential, this amplifier has lots to shout about.
Are you a fan of Cyrus's shoebox style? Do you like the sound, but wish they produced something that would fit in better with your existing system? Have your say in our forum.
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