Cyrus Streamline £1,600

Well equipped for the brave new world of streamed music and other digital sources

We reviewed Cyrus’s Stream X a few issues ago (HFC 351) in our first-ever Blind-listening Group Test of streaming music players. The Streamline effectively adds an integrated amplifier to the Stream X, and does so for just £200 extra.

To some, the amplifier may look like a cheapskate add-on; a single high-performance integrated circuit which includes a full 30W per channel power amplifier in a single package. Time was, when that kind of thing was death to real sound quality, but things have moved on and the data sheet on this device suggests a performance that most designers of ‘serious’ amplifiers wouldn’t consider too shabby.

Unlike the other units here, this has no built-in CD transport. It does, however, have digital inputs, no less than five of them (two optical, three electrical), so you can use an external CD player through it. In the absence of analogue inputs, that’s the only way you’re going to interface any ‘legacy’ kit through the Streamline. There’s always the option of adding an external ADC for those times you feel the need to drag out a cassette, but in terms of modern digital sources you won’t be left wanting, as both wired and wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi) are supported, as well as a single USB socket for connecting portable players, USB sticks and iThings.

Ethernet streaming brings with it access to the wonderful world of internet radio, podcasts and more, and Cyrus has got the user interface pretty well set up here. No, it’s not up to the standards of the touch-screen Logitech Squeezebox, but is easy enough to navigate. The included n-remote is particularly nice to use.

Sound quality

Another unit which divided opinion, the Streamline is not at its best on the rhythmic front. The member of our listening panel who most highly values rhythms got off to a bad start with it and never really warmed to the sound. Even he, though, found the unaccompanied vocal track successful in portraying space, ambience and natural vocal tone.

The other two listeners were more impressed, one indeed rating this joint top of the group while the other was more guarded, but still almost entirely complimentary. The winning suit here is evidently precision of tonal quality and of spatial information. The former makes it easy to distinguish similar voices or instruments, while the latter gives very fine imaging.

None of those who heard this unit felt it quite managed to achieve the insight into densely layered material of some others here, but it was notably strong at imaging, where it sounded particularly assured and natural.

In terms of frequency extremes, the Streamline does very well in the treble, extending cleanly and effortlessly – if perhaps not quite as sweetly as some. Bass, our listeners felt, is reasonably extended, but lacks a little weight and impact, explaining why rhythms can seem a little wanting. Overall though, a good performance that’s very consistent across digital sources.

LIKE: Detailed sound with clean and clear treble; plenty of digital inputs;
DISLIKE: Bass and low-midrange lack some impact, which can make sound uninvolving
WE SAY: A practical and stylish way to access most digital sources

DETAILS
ORIGIN: UK
TYPE: One-box system
WEIGHT: 3.4kg
DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 215x75x385mm
FEATURES:
• Rated output 30w (8 ohms)
• Line input
• 2 optical digital inputs
• 3 electrical digital inputs
• USB-A input
• Ethernet connection
• Wi-fi connector
• Electrical digital output
• Speaker output
• Preamp output
• Recording output
• Headphone output
DISTRIBUTOR: Cyrus Audio
TELEPHONE: 01480 410900
WEBSITE: cyrusaudio.com