Cyrus CD 8SE - £1,300

Cyrus has included its own servo evolution platform, bringing CD replay close to perfection

we’ve seen this model before (HFC 310), but it has been very slightly revised, so we thought a re-test might be a good idea.

Many of these revisions are cosmetic, including a new window for the display and a redesigned bezel, which fronts the slot-loading transport and puts the mind at rest about scratching discs (not that we hand any such concerns in the first place).

But there have also been some changes to the software which controls the disc-reading servo. This servo was the ‘big news’ about the 8SE (the letters standing for ‘Servo Evolution’) and was something of a novelty for a specialist manufacturer such as Cyrus, in that it optimised disc-reading from a high-quality audio standpoint, rather than the more common trade-off between read quality and performance with dodgy or damaged discs.

A few commentators were surprised that Cyrus has built this into a slot-loading transport, but we’ve no problems with it: indeed it seems greatly preferable to a fragile loading tray. It operates just as fast and makes no more noise, so we’re very happy with it.

It feeds a pair of circuit boards, which use a good-quality DAC chip and an unusually generous number of op-amps (seven of them, two different types), which perform the analogue filtering and buffering functions. Power supply arrangements include separate toroidal transformers for analogue and digital sections, plus an upgrade socket for connecting Cyrus’s well-established PSX-R upgrade power supply.

Sound quality

Our listeners didn’t entirely agree with the bass presentation of this player, but liked most other aspects of its sound. Indeed, the bass was praised in terms of speed and attack, but it’s a little light compared with some in the group and that was noted as a comparative point.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that if the CD 8SE is heard in isolation, then the lightness is much less apparent and the rhythmic qualities are more obvious in terms of character.

Imaging divided opinion a little, but it’s clearly generally good, sometimes excellent. It slightly falls short in terms of depth and precision in very complex recordings, a common enough failing to be sure and not terribly serious in extent. Width information is clearly presented and images are invariably stable under any conditions.

Our listening panel made no mention anywhere of tonal qualities in midrange and treble and sure enough, we couldn’t persuade ourselves that there is any coloration in evidence. Detail is very good, clear but unemphatic. Mention was also made of this player’s good handling of musical flow and indeed, it does seem particularly good at that.

Taken with good rhythmic properties, the 8SE seems better suited overall to the listener who simply wants communicative music, rather than to the audiophile whose keen to have all the specifics painstakingly attended to. That seems to us a perfectly acceptable philosophy!

LIKE: Good musical  flow and tight rhythm: easily upgradeable
DISLIKE: A little bass-light and not always confident with imaging
WE SAY: Unimpressive at first, perhaps, but satisfying in the long-term

WEIGHT: 3.5kg
DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 215x75x365mm
• CD-Audio
• Analogue outputs: dual unbalanced
• Digital outputs: electrical and optical S/PDIF
• PSX-R upgradable connector
• MC-Bus in/out
TELEPHONE: 01480 410900