Cyrus CD8x/PSX-R review

Beautiful, clear sound from a master player

Our Verdict

Lightness of touch is the key here, but there is also good bass and some very fine detail on offer, too


  • Good bass and detail

    PSX-R power supply a good move

Cyrus's CD players bear more than a little external resemblance to each other, but this is the company's top model among one-box players, mostly a CD8 but with the 'x' suffix, signifying that certain aspects owe much to the two-box CD Xt/DAC X combination. The CD8x is something of a stalwart but on this occasion, we are giving it a boost by adding the PSX-R upgrade power supply.

The latter is a clever addition to the Cyrus range, with applications across the board. Most of Cyrus's units have a five-pin XLR connection ready for the PSX-R, which is basically a very large toroidal transformer in a box. Well, a bit more than that - there are power supply regulators and enough intelligence fitted to make this the ultimate in effortless upgrades.

You just plug the flying lead into the CD player (or whatever) and connect both boxes to the mains. The PSX-R automatically takes over powering the critical bits of the circuit, with its on/off status slaved to the main unit. The CD8x itself already includes two tiny toroidal transformers. The audio circuit board is fitted above the transport and carries the usual DAC and output buffer chips, power supply regulation and so on.

The front panel is a little squeezed but once you get used to the button layout it's easy enough to use, and the display is easy to read. At the rear, twin analogue outputs are joined by both flavours of digital output and Cyrus's MC-Bus remote control system. Cyrus's cheaper CD players can be upgraded (at the factory) to '8x' specification.

The dominant impression left on our panellists by the CD8x/PSX-R combination was of clean, fast, agile sound, and yet not all found it entirely to their taste. The difference hinges on where one perceives the dividing line to be between agility and over-brightness. We mention that at the outset because there's no point pretending: if you have a horror of bright sound this may not be the player for you.

Clear agility

That said, there is plenty going for it. The aforementioned agility is part of that and indeed this is a player that can adapt seamlessly to the ebb and flow of any musical style. But beyond that it also has a real sense of coherence, resulting in believable images and musical lines that follow the performers' intentions.

Tonally it is well balanced, and one listener said that it had great 'composure', a word we can't remember seeing in this context before but the implication is clear enough. Vocals are a high point, the diction and emotion of the singer coming over very clearly with any kind of backing or none. And perhaps surprisingly in a player that has such lightness of touch, the bass is good too - both strong and subtle, as required.

One listener questioned whether it extends quite as low as it could, and in our sighted listening, with the opportunity to swap back and forth and check for that sort of thing, we could see what he meant. All the same, it is admirable for its clarity and has no trouble keeping up with lively rhythms either.

Finally, the player's grasp of fine details of a recorded acoustic and ambience is clearly comprehensive, and it was praised highly for its natural portrayal of space.