Cyrus CD-T Review

The Cyrus CD transport, which was released in 2011 for £699, filled a much-needed vacuum in a hi-fi world that was suddenly seeing a drop in the number of silver disc spinners being produced. Linn had already announced that it would no longer offer Compact Disc players, and the major Japanese manufacturers — with the notable exception of TEAC/Esoteric – had all but disappeared by this point.

In 2008, Cyrus Audio decided to seize the bull by the horns and create its own CD mechanism, based on its Servo Evolution platform and exclusive Cyrus-written code. According to Peter Bartlett, the company’s then-managing director, it was a significant financial and time investment. “We re-engineered both the fundamental CD controller code and the servo software that drives the mechanical parts in all ICs, and we now know how to optimize the way the servo software drives the mechanical parts correctly.” I intended to cut down on data inaccuracies caused by servo systems that were fine-tuned for the rigors of life in a car dashboard rather than a steady living room.”

According to him, the choice to redesign the core code was a massive undertaking that took three software engineers over a year to complete. Part of the reason for this was because Cyrus engineers had to “unravel the myriad workarounds successive large clients had sought over the core code to support a mass market application.” “What we needed was a system that could pull the most data off the CD with the fewest data errors,” he explains. We had a better foundation upon which to create our system once we knew the code (and had taken down around half of it). We then looked at the best DVD laser and a corresponding sled system, both of which provided best-in-class performance. Then there was the task of writing the sled/focus control code for these additional components. The last and easiest part was writing code to control the loader, which everyone feels is the most significant part because it is the most visible!”

This Cyrus CD Transport – or CD-T for short – used the company’s SE2 CD servo ‘engine,’ which was claimed to read more data “correctly the first time” from a disc than any other system at the time. Despite the fact that it was built on the CD-Xt SE2, it was half the price. The CD-T was created to complement the company’s XPd line of DAC-enabled amplifiers, with the 6XPd amplifier being recommended to “build a truly distinctive hi-fi system with various future upgrade opportunities.” The transport had all of the features of the top-of-the-line CD-Xt model, but it didn’t have a place to plug in a PSX-R power supply. Nonetheless, it might be “affordably” upgraded to the top-of-the-line CD-Xt SE2 standard.

The slot-loading method, which is considerably less fiddly than a disc tray, was something I particularly enjoyed at the time – and still do. Unfortunately, certain early Cyrus SE mechs had difficulty with disc loading and ejection due to firmware issues that were eventually fixed. Overall, it’s a very nice piece of equipment, encased in the iconic Cyrus diecast magnesium shell that’s been around since the release of the Cyrus 3 CD player in the mid-1990s. It measures 215 x 78 x 360mm and weighs 3.7kg. The backlit LC display is bright and clear, and the player is simple to operate. S/PDIF coaxial and optical TOSLINK digital outputs, as well as MC-Bus interface for Cyrus system integration, are located around the back, and separate power supply for motors and electronics are located inside.

From a sonic standpoint, this is without a doubt the best affordable CD transport available — both then and now. That may not be much of a statement because it’s a one-man gang. The best part is that it can be updated to the CD-Xt SE2, making it a true top-of-the-line silver disc spinner. You’ll be pleasantly pleased by its smoothness, detail, and overall poise as is, but upgrade it and it starts to sound forensic, with bigger bass and more spacious treble. If you’re searching for an extremely smooth, smart, compact, and fuss-free silver disc spinner that also happens to sound fantastic, this is the one to get.