Cyrus ONE Cast Steaming Voice Control HiFi Amplifier Review
A review from a strange place
I was invited to the UK press launch of Cyrus new ONE Cast streaming amplifier and I was very interested to attend because this is the third product in the ONE series and it was to be my first experience of them. I asked Cyrus would it be possible to cover the event for my YouTube channel and they kindly agreed.
What I wasn’t expecting was for Cyrus MD Simon Freethy to give a full and detailed presentation explaining in details the interesting new features the ONE cast is designed to offer. This presentation being over an hour long with different sections it made sense to create a three part video mini series as you can see below.
I was very impressed by what I saw at the presentation and asked if I could spend some time with the ONE cast for a review.
ONE Cast Launch Video Part One
ONE Cast Launch Video Part Two
ONE Cast Launch Video Part Three
A very cool idea
At some point traditional HiFi technology has to meet modern every day technology for the two to coexist, or really for the HiFi product to continue and that is where Cyrus have pitched their ONE range of products. Featured, simple to use and good to listen to.
The ONE cast looks to take that even further by offering voice control on all three major platforms Google, Amazon and Apple. This is the main feature of the ONE Cast with the second main feature being in the name, its “Cast” capability making integration between your music services and music being play back easy and seamless. There is no Cyrus control app for the ONE Cast instead within your preferred music service app Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz you select to Cast or Airplay for Apple your music to the ONE Cast.
This turns the phone or tablet you are using into a remote control only that takes over the control of the ONE Cast but the ONE Cast acts as the music streamer, DAC and amplifier for optimum performance and sound quality. This can all be controlled by voice activation as well and all of it throws up lots of possibilities and use cases.
A sound bar replacement
Cyrus intend for the ONE Cast to fit into your everyday life as easy and as simple as a TV sound bar, they have included some very important connections to offer this such as HDMI ARC and other digital connections. I really like this aspect of the ONE Cast and in practice used with a pair of good speakers can create a fantastic TV watching experience with some cool auto on / off functions.
At the core of the ONE Cast is Cyrus 4th Generation Hybrid Class D amplifier technology which uses a Torodial Transformer power supply for best sound quality and can push out 100 watts per channel into 6 ohms. There is a clever trick that happens when you turn the ONE Cast on called SID Speaker independence detection which allows the amplifier to make some tiny adjustments to better match to the speaker and speaker cable circuit – very cool.
Another major feature is a headphone amplifier which cleverly uses the whole power supply to drive its output. Cyrus have included a MM phono stage, home cinema bypass analogue inputs, bluetooth connectivity, over the air firmware updates and more. While there might be a feature somewhere that is missing from the ONE Cast I didn’t notice it.
Build quality could be a little better
When the ONE Cast is powered on you are greeted with a very cool LED display and the LEDs on the front are very much the main visual feature of the ONE Cast turning an otherwise simplistic black rectangle into something more.
Overall the build quality of the ONE Cast is good but with a few annoyances, the main two being the the 2 main rotary controls on the front mark very easily from dirty fingertips and they wobble quite a lot if you wobble them. The front fascia being gloss black is also a finger print and dust magnet. While these are annoyances if you touch them a lot you could easily live with and use the ONE Cast for years without ever laying a finger on it, obviously after the initial installation so that potentially makes these niggle moot points.
But what does it cost?
The Cyrus One Cast costs £1295 and for reference the Cyrus ONE HD which is the next in the line costs £999 and the original Cyrus ONE costs £699.
Given the many different ways to use ONE Cast I could write pages on how it sounds across all its different functions, instead I will focus on three. I reviewed the ONE Cast at the same time as the Wilson Audio TuneTot speakers, the ONE Cast fitted the criteria of a desktop system to be used with the Wilson speakers on a desktop.
I choose to use Dirac Live where possible because I think its an incredible tool to manage the sound of an audio system and help to dial out the negative effects of the listening room. With the speakers being desktop situated and non symmetrical I used Dirac Live to help balance and manage the sound. This meant using a different music source a miniDSP SHD Studio as the music source and Dirac Live source connected via an SPDIF digital connection to the ONE Cast for the demo video below.
The ONE cast has a good DAC and amplifier in it and you would be very hard pressed to tell its a class d design. The sound it produces is smooth, relaxed but with a nice amount of detail playing through a very demanding pair of speakers in the Wilson's. The main sonic strengths being a clean mid range and very nice vocals and what I call a see through sound, a sound you go to, rather than it come to you.
I then compared the sound using the ONE Cast to stream the music and obviously without the Dirac benefits the ONE Cast did produced a sound very close the SHD Studio, a little warmer, a little softer and not quite quite as clear but still enjoyable to listen to.
Good for the Cans
Plugging in my Audeze LCDX headphones the ONE Cast auto selects to the headphone output and it delivered a strong headphone performance one I could very much listen to and enjoy. The headphone section could have used some more resolution for the Audeze being overly picky but it still delivered a good headphone performance.
I was very impressed with the idea of the ONE Cast and I think its great of Cyrus to create a product to bridge the gap between voice controlled smart speakers, great sounding HiFi from a usable everyday audio system.
I think Cyrus have done a very good job of creating a nice looking, good sounding very flexible HiFi component that I can see being a staple part of a home entertainment system with enough amplifier power to drive a good number of speakers. I am not a modern audiophile and I am not used to voice control for anything so that feature of the ONE Cast is not one that I used a great deal during the review but I know my sons would. They would also love the LED light display when you turn the ONE Cast on, I love that one too.
I think the idea of making music playback as simple as possible for users of the ONE Cast is great and I like the idea of using the streaming services app to control everything rather than using a different Cyrus made music control app. The trade off of using the "Cast" system can be some slight delays here and there but this is pretty common with most network based music streaming products anyway.
The ONE cast is designed as a wireless only product so its inevitable that you need a good WiFi connection at home and especially where the ONE Cast is to be placed.
I think if the idea of casting your music doesn't appeal, if connecting HiFi over wireless doesn't appeal, if voice control HiFi doesn't appeal then that doesn't rule the Cyrus ONE out for you, it may mean you should consider the ONE HD instead because it has a very similar amplifier and DAC section and a more comprehensive Bluetooth. Its also £300 cheaper which means money left over for records or flowers for the wife.
I want to conclude the review with a final a few words of praise for the ONE Cast I hope it does well and I hope it finds its way into the homes of many Audiophiles who will appreciate it for what it is. Fun HiFi for the family.
An Essential Audition Award is granted in recognition of a products high performance but with a certain uniqueness that makes auditioning even more essential