This is another interesting take on the old pre/power concept, since apart from the obvious fact that the power amps are physically discrete monoblocks, the preamp is also a DAC.

Where Bryston's pre/DAC is very much a preamp with a DAC board added, this one is historically a DAC (the DAC-X exists happily in its own right) with a preamp added, though the integration is such that the term 'digital preamp' would probably describe it better.

Of eight total inputs, only two are analogue: there are two optical and four electrical digital inputs.

Extensive connectivity

The layout of the rear panel is a little confusing at first, though everything is clearly labelled with the inputs simply numbered. By default they are numbered on the front-panel display, but they can be renamed from a pretty comprehensive list of typical sources.

In terms of outputs, two each of balanced and unbalanced should cover any eventuality and there's a single digital output too, plus a fixed (recording) analogue output. The DAC-XP can also be upgraded by adding a PSX-R.

The Mono X is simpler, with balanced and unbalanced inputs and a 'chain' output for bi-amping etc. Twin unswitched speaker outputs are on BFA connectors, of which Cyrus currently seems to be the sole proponent. The build of both units is to Cyrus's usual high standard, with a very hefty toroidal mains transformer in the Mono X and plenty of good- quality parts throughout the circuits.

Although many Cyrus products will end up in all-Cyrus racks with corresponding visual unity, these components are entirely compatible with those from other manufacturers and, of course, as with any monoblock amps the option exists to place them very close to the loudspeakers, potentially saving significantly on cabling.

Understated bass

Our listeners don't always agree on everything, but they all seemed to find these amps quick and agile and, perhaps, just a touch bass-light.

Everyone also thought that there was something of a 'dark' quality to the sound (by which they evidently meant a subtle kind of coloration), very slightly favouring the upper bass.

In large doses, that could easily mean overblown bass, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. Indeed, low bass is not particularly prominent: it's well controlled and tuneful though, perhaps, not sufficiently prolific to excite headbangers.

It's the region above that which is of interest, though, it does just slightly stand out in both quantity and quality. Indeed, the position of bass instruments seems to move away a little, an apparent paradox as one might expect that to make it weaker. Instead, it makes it more distinct from the rest of the sound.

Ultimately, that doesn't seem to affect the enjoyment much, after one has become accustomed to it.

Strong on detail

The rhythmic drive of the amps is not in question and the midband and treble are very detailed - so much so, that one doesn't necessarily notice straight away.

One does hear a nicely musical presentation with a high degree of sympathy with different instruments and musical styles, but there's plenty of analytical information on offer.

Just occasionally the high treble can seem a little shut-in, but apart from that there's very little here to criticise.