The Cyrus CD-8X is approaching the status of an old favourite, having been in the Cyrus catalogue for several years. We've enjoyed its company in the past, but we hoped the exciting new Servo Evolution transport upgrades would have been ready in time.

The CD-8X is built into the usual Cyrus die-cast case, it is quite a shoe-horn job with two circuit boards carefully mounted above and below the rear extension of the CD transport and two toroidal transformers squeezed in too.

Despite that, space has been found at the rear for twin outputs, control bus sockets, both flavours of digital output and a socket for the PSX-R power supply, which we decided to employ in this review.

A useful upgrade

Effectively a big transformer in a box, but with some intelligent housekeeping circuitry to make it a complete no-brainer of an upgrade, the PSX-R is compatible with many of Cyrus's more upmarket products.

It comes with a flying lead terminated in a plug which fits into the appropriate socket and operation is completely automatic.

It powers key parts of the circuit and, while its effects are more appreciable with power amps than CD players, it is still claimed to giveworthwhile improvements in general sonic clarity and precision.

The display on the 8x is basic, but the player is nice to use, with rapid disc handling. We particularly appreciate the way everything can be easily controlled from the front panel: players which make key functions exclusive to the remote can quickly lose their appeal when the remote has temporarily vanished.

Little to criticise

If the 8x didn't seem to our listeners to excel in any particular area, its performance was nevertheless considered good in each department and there was relatively little specific criticism.

About the strongest expression against the player came from our 'rhythm and timing' enthusiast, who found the presentation a touch bland, most noticeably so in the Penguin Café Orchestra track.

Even he, however, conceded that the bass can be punchy on at least some occasions, especially in the Rachmaninov, which features some quite energetic work from the double basses and the percussion, but then separation of instruments is very clear in small ensembles.

Frequency limitations

Multiple voices seemed to fare very well indeed, with some very positive comments greeting the Pallavicino track. Here, the space in which the recording was made seemed even bigger than usual, while each voice was still clearly defined and projected.

To the extent this player has limitations they seem more to do with the frequency extremes than the midband. The bass is quite well extended, but not quite as deep as some. Some instruments can catch it out and end up sounding slightly boomy.

Treble is extended but can sometimes be a little dry, especially with very treble-rich sounds. But at neither extreme is there anything that seems likely to induce listener fatigue or discomfort.