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Modded Cyrus 2+PSX review

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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I know I already have a thread about the ongoing restoration of my recently acquired C2+PSX but I thought I'd start a new thread about the SQ since it came back from its recap and upgrade at ARS Amplifier Repair (returned to me in just over a week, impressive stuff). Small caveat is it's been a while since I heard a 'normal' unrestored C2 so consider my comparisons between mine and standard C2s are blurred by memory and are not truly objective.

I started with vinyl first, using my TD160 with its usual Ortofon MC3. Test disc was 'Direct' by Vangelis. I love this LP for testing new setups; mixture of synthesized and real instruments recorded, produced and mastered superbly. I realised I was in for a sonic treat from the first opening seconds of track 1, 'The Motion Of Stars'. I remember the C2 was always supremely detailed but the bass could be very dry and lacked wallop sometimes. Definitely not the case now, it literally hammered out of my EB2s. Some of the mods undertaken by ARS include upgrading the components in the phono stages and power amp to "Cyrus Signature" spec. Firmly remembering my caveat that I cannot A-B with a standard C2, IMO these upgrades have very much paid off: the (synthetically created) soundstage on the album is literally huge in terms of width and depth, like I've only heard from the CD version of this album before, and my TD160 isn't even ideally placed.

I skipped the next track, 'The Will Of The Wind' not because I don't like it but because I was eager to hear how the 'new' amp coped with the complex layers of syths in 'Metallic Rain' as the track builds, and perhaps predictably this is where the C2 showed its only weakness: as the track buit in complexity I headed for the volume control to turn it down a bit because I found it just plain loud rather than enveloping, not helped I'm sure by my EB2 speakers which themselves have quite a dry tight bass that don't do warm and cuddly, they do snappy and taught.

Next I tried the A-side of "Tubular Bells", original '73 'two virgins' pressing. Utterly stunning, no signs of glare or stridency this time, no doubt I'm sure as a result of the 100% 'AAA' recording/mixing/mastering on this 40-odd year old LP ('Direct' is effectively DDA), this combo revealing subtleties that Oldfield didn't intend the listener to hear, such as faders being lifted a bit too soon before an amped guitar kicks in. The layering and texturing in the final ceremonies section that ends side A was superb, again like nothing I've really heard from LP before, and again at no time did it ever sound harsh or too forward.

I tried only one CD for this short session (more accurately a rip played from my HRT II+), speciffcally "Kate Bush The Whole Story". Imaging: wow, off any scale I've so far encountered. Soundstage you feel you can just walk through. Close my eyes and there she was. Tonal balance, just a touch on the strident side again, specifically on tracks such as "Wow" during the chorus and portions of "Hounds of Love", but compared to a standard C2, I'm sure this modded amp sounds like it possesses better grip of the speakers and has better weight and contrtol at the bottom end.

So ended my listening session. "Wow" was my one-word reaction really. This really is a testosterone-filled little amp that seems like it could kick even the most laidback speakers' a$$ and make them move. There's detail-aplenty to wallow in and I was reminded why I was so fond of using my old long-sold C1 in my little home studio before I bought active monitors, you really feel it's showing you everything that's going on with no airs and graces. But despite the upgrades, which I feel have been unquestionably worthwhile, careful matching is still required to ensure it is partnered with speakers that are accomodating of its impetuousness. Bright or lean speakers and it's two Anadins and off to bed with the world's worst headache, but get it right and I'm not sure if there's anything this side of a grand which wll scare it in terms of detail and scale; perhaps even more. Maybe the answer is to pair it with really good large loudspeakers from its era or earlier, such as the Tannoy Monitor Gold or Celestion Ditton 66, because it just wasn't built for today's era of speakers.
 

MajorFubar

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Ah well looks like writing all that was a waste of 30 minutes I'll never get back judging by the interest it's received. Never mind.
 

drummerman

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Not at all. I did read it with interest but just didn't comment.

I think its an interesting and potentially rewarding path you're following, especially, as in your case, you have gone through the trouble of refurbishing the outside and having the electronics overhauled professionally. In what is often a throw-away society to have things lovingly refurbished to enjoy them for many years to come has to be applauded.

I totally agree that the aim should probably be to re-form a period system though that doesn't mean the amplifier can't function in a more modern setting either.

Good on you and they look nice and probably sound even better.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Somehow I completely overlooked it....as I would have commented otherwise.

I think you missed your vocation....I would like you to do more reviews on here.

Good stuff.
 

MajorFubar

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CnoEvil said:
Somehow I completely overlooked it....as I would have commented otherwise.

I think you missed your vocation....I would like you to do more reviews on here.

Good stuff.

.
Thanks, but with a HiFi made up largely of old kit, probably most of what I would have to say has little contemporary relevance. Actually that probably sums up the majority of my 4,300 posts.

Andrewjvt said:
So are you going to replace this new amp with what you have or is it a 2nd system?
Fair question. Truth is I don't feel this set-up is as suited to my EB2 loudspeakers as my current amp (an equally-ageing Marantz PM66SE KI), but I've invested a fair bit of money in it now to make it IMO better than new, so it's a keeper but very likely will be mothballed for a while after I've finished spraying it up. I would so love to hear it partnered with some really good 'warm cuddly' speakers that are perhaps a bit more tolerant of its exuberancy while still allowing it to flaunt its natural skills in the midband and imaging. I'm so already in the doghouse for spending money on upgrading it to start with, but if I ever change my speakers I might go for something classic, more along the lines of what Cyrus intended it to be partnered with in 1985, and let's see what it's capable of.
 

chrisr1718

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Sep 18, 2009
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MajorFubar said:
because it just wasn't built for today's era of speakers.
Thats why I stick with my Tannoy R3's


Great review, thats just what I wanted to hear.

Looks like I'll have to get mine over to ARS!
 

MajorFubar

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I was hoping you'd see this review, you're the only person on the forum I know who's still using a C2. If your C2 has never been serviced since new I think you'd be absolutely delighted with the results. Definitely new lease of life and an upgrade with modern components in a few critical areas make it better than new to my ears. Bet on your R3s it would sound amazing. The downer is it's a sunk cost, sell the amp tomorrow and you'd never get the difference back, maybe a portion of it, but really you'd only go to this expense if it was a keeper anyway.
 

Covenanter

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Jul 20, 2012
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I haven't been on this forum for a while, it has got a bit boring IMO, but I enjoyed reading your review. I suspect you are hearing the difference between construction "down to a price" and "up to a quality".

Chris
 

chrisr1718

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Sep 18, 2009
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MajorFubar said:
The downer is it's a sunk cost, sell the amp tomorrow and you'd never get the difference back, maybe a portion of it, but really you'd only go to this expense if it was a keeper anyway.
It took me years to final get the C2/PSX combination I wanted (same as yours), so I don't think I'd ever get rid of it. A worth while cost I'd say, and a lot cheaper than any comparable amp I could buy new!
 

drummerman

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chrisr1718 said:
MajorFubar said:
The downer is it's a sunk cost, sell the amp tomorrow and you'd never get the difference back, maybe a portion of it, but really you'd only go to this expense if it was a keeper anyway.
It took me years to final get the C2/PSX combination I wanted (same as yours), so I don't think I'd ever get rid of it. A worth while cost I'd say, and a lot cheaper than any comparable amp I could buy new!
I actually love that attitude even if it has little place in todays forums where most of it is about newer and better. You found something you like, why change? Just add to it as necessary.

Someone I know has had his 20+ year old Naim system since new and no intention to change.

In a way you are the lucky few. Look at the usual posts on forums and it is mostly about chasing better ... sometimes without ever being satisfied.
 

chrisr1718

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Sep 18, 2009
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Meant to ask, what did you actually have done as I notice they have several options over and above the basic fixed price overhaul i.e. replacement of all electrolytics including or excluding main PSU capacitors, new RCA sockets, Record Selector Switch overhaul & Bipolar electrolytics bypassed with Wima film capacitors.

Or did you just have everything done.

Thanks.

NB just noticed I wouldnt need the main PSU capacitors doing anyway as I use a PSX, £50 saved!
 

MajorFubar

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chrisr1718 said:
Meant to ask, what did you actually have done as I notice they have several options over and above the basic fixed price overhaul i.e. replacement of all electrolytics including or excluding main PSU capacitors, new RCA sockets, Record Selector Switch overhaul & Bipolar electrolytics bypassed with Wima film capacitors.

Or did you just have everything done.

Thanks.

NB just noticed I wouldnt need the main PSU capacitors doing anyway as I use a PSX, £50 saved!
Everything except the main PSU capacitors. I did actually tell him to do them if they needed it, even though like yours they'd just sit there unused because of the PSX, but apparently they were absolutely fine and changing them would have been a wasted outlay. I respect him for being honest, because he could easily have sapped me of another £50 for a job that didn't need doing and I would have been none the wiser.
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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drummerman said:
chrisr1718 said:
MajorFubar said:
The downer is it's a sunk cost, sell the amp tomorrow and you'd never get the difference back, maybe a portion of it, but really you'd only go to this expense if it was a keeper anyway.
It took me years to final get the C2/PSX combination I wanted (same as yours), so I don't think I'd ever get rid of it. A worth while cost I'd say, and a lot cheaper than any comparable amp I could buy new!
I actually love that attitude even if it has little place in todays forums where most of it is about newer and better. You found something you like, why change? Just add to it as necessary.

Someone I know has had his 20+ year old Naim system since new and no intention to change.

In a way you are the lucky few. Look at the usual posts on forums and it is mostly about chasing better ... sometimes without ever being satisfied.
Indeed and I think it takes a huge amount of self-discipline not to be dragged into the never-ending spiral. In a previous life before marriage and family committed my disposable income, I expended so much money on this hobby making what were effectively sideways moves, it's untrue. As I said in an earlier post in this thread I reckon I've got to the point now where I can't afford to buy a new system that will unquestionably without any doubt be definitely better than what I've already got. That's not the news the manufacturers want to hear because they only exist because people keep buying new stuff, and to a very large extent so does this magazine.
 

Covenanter

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Jul 20, 2012
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The reason these things can improve a piece of kit is to do with "tolerances". If you look at a resistor you will find it has a banded colour code, the last band being the tolerance. An ordinary wire-wound resistor will cost you pennies and will have a tolerance of maybe 5% whereas something flash like a metal-foil resistor will cost pounds and have a tolerance of maybe 0.01%. In circuits it is sometimes the ratio between the values of resistors that is significant so with cheaper resistors this can vary quite a lot and this might effect performance. A similar thing is true for capacitors,well at least those that are in the signal path. I'm rather sceptical about PSU capacitors, as long as they are big enough and are working, because they aren't in the signal path.

The simpler the circuit the more important the values of components. In a high-feedback circuit with op amps (or equivalents) controlling the performance they won't be so important as the circuit can be tuned to get the desired result. On the other hand, for example, in a simple valve circuit the values will be critical and I would use low tolerance components and I'd probably hand match them too (I would hand match the valves as well).

In all circuits it never hurts to have the best components!

Chris
 

MajorFubar

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Covenanter said:
I'm rather sceptical about PSU capacitors, as long as they are big enough and are working, because they aren't in the signal path.
A fair-enough stance I won't dispute, the chap at ARS generally will only replace these if they show signs of physical deterioration (bulging, leakages) or electrical malfunction (can be determined with a multimeter and an ESR meter)
 

MajorFubar

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Quick update on this, I've thrown about 24 hours listening to this combo up to now. I'm very much of the "components don't burn in" school of thought, so maybe it's me just getting accustomed to the sound, but I have to say I'm warming to this combination, even connected to my EB2 loudspeakers. The words "lush" and "Cyrus amp" are not ever heard in the same sentence and you'd take me for a fool if I at all suggested they should consider coming within 500yds of each other. But still, I don't think I've ever heard a regular C2 sounding quite so approachable.

If not lush, it's difficult not to think of words at least as complimentary as 'balanced', and without a shadow of a doubt there is more bottom-end presence and weight. I was listening to some Classic FM this afternoon, and other than my annoyance with the questionable audio quality of the transmission due to over-zealous compression, I have to say it sounded absolutely magnificent. Big orchestras had real weight and scale across the spectrum, and the spacial queues and soundstage when listening to simpler arrangements such as solo piano and string quartets were captivating.

Good stuff, and I'm looking forward to it long continuing. I'm more than sure now that I couldn't have bought anything new at any price I could afford which sounds quite so involving and emmotional.
 

MajorFubar

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chrisr1718 said:
Just getting the bubble-wrap ready to box it up, then off to ARS it goes!!*mail1*
Nice. Tell him he comes highly recommended by the guy from Lancashire who's just had the full works on his black C2. Would be nice for him to know that he's been recommended word of mouth. Well, virtually. I do hope you end up as delighted as I am and nothing goes wrong. Not that it should...
 

MajorFubar

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chrisr1718 said:
Just getting the bubble-wrap ready to box it up, then off to ARS it goes!!*mail1*
Bump Bump. Any news Chris? (this is where a PM feature would be handy...how the hell you supposed to attract someone's attention?)
 

rtbaudio

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Nov 6, 2013
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I'm considering exactly the same set of modifications MajorFubar - so was it just the c2 that you got overhauled?
 

rtbaudio

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Nov 6, 2013
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MajorFubar said:
I know I already have a thread about the ongoing restoration of my recently acquired C2+PSX but I thought I'd start a new thread about the SQ since it came back from its recap and upgrade at ARS Amplifier Repair (returned to me in just over a week, impressive stuff). Small caveat is it's been a while since I heard a 'normal' unrestored C2 so consider my comparisons between mine and standard C2s are blurred by memory and are not truly objective.

I started with vinyl first, using my TD160 with its usual Ortofon MC3. Test disc was 'Direct' by Vangelis. I love this LP for testing new setups; mixture of synthesized and real instruments recorded, produced and mastered superbly. I realised I was in for a sonic treat from the first opening seconds of track 1, 'The Motion Of Stars'. I remember the C2 was always supremely detailed but the bass could be very dry and lacked wallop sometimes. Definitely not the case now, it literally hammered out of my EB2s. Some of the mods undertaken by ARS include upgrading the components in the phono stages and power amp to "Cyrus Signature" spec. Firmly remembering my caveat that I cannot A-B with a standard C2, IMO these upgrades have very much paid off: the (synthetically created) soundstage on the album is literally huge in terms of width and depth, like I've only heard from the CD version of this album before, and my TD160 isn't even ideally placed.

I skipped the next track, 'The Will Of The Wind' not because I don't like it but because I was eager to hear how the 'new' amp coped with the complex layers of syths in 'Metallic Rain' as the track builds, and perhaps predictably this is where the C2 showed its only weakness: as the track buit in complexity I headed for the volume control to turn it down a bit because I found it just plain loud rather than enveloping, not helped I'm sure by my EB2 speakers which themselves have quite a dry tight bass that don't do warm and cuddly, they do snappy and taught.

Next I tried the A-side of "Tubular Bells", original '73 'two virgins' pressing. Utterly stunning, no signs of glare or stridency this time, no doubt I'm sure as a result of the 100% 'AAA' recording/mixing/mastering on this 40-odd year old LP ('Direct' is effectively DDA), this combo revealing subtleties that Oldfield didn't intend the listener to hear, such as faders being lifted a bit too soon before an amped guitar kicks in. The layering and texturing in the final ceremonies section that ends side A was superb, again like nothing I've really heard from LP before, and again at no time did it ever sound harsh or too forward.

I tried only one CD for this short session (more accurately a rip played from my HRT II+), speciffcally "Kate Bush The Whole Story". Imaging: wow, off any scale I've so far encountered. Soundstage you feel you can just walk through. Close my eyes and there she was. Tonal balance, just a touch on the strident side again, specifically on tracks such as "Wow" during the chorus and portions of "Hounds of Love", but compared to a standard C2, I'm sure this modded amp sounds like it possesses better grip of the speakers and has better weight and contrtol at the bottom end.

So ended my listening session. "Wow" was my one-word reaction really. This really is a testosterone-filled little amp that seems like it could kick even the most laidback speakers' a$$ and make them move. There's detail-aplenty to wallow in and I was reminded why I was so fond of using my old long-sold C1 in my little home studio before I bought active monitors, you really feel it's showing you everything that's going on with no airs and graces. But despite the upgrades, which I feel have been unquestionably worthwhile, careful matching is still required to ensure it is partnered with speakers that are accomodating of its impetuousness. Bright or lean speakers and it's two Anadins and off to bed with the world's worst headache, but get it right and I'm not sure if there's anything this side of a grand which wll scare it in terms of detail and scale; perhaps even more. Maybe the answer is to pair it with really good large loudspeakers from its era or earlier, such as the Tannoy Monitor Gold or Celestion Ditton 66, because it just wasn't built for today's era of speakers.
I'm considering exactly the same set of modifications MajorFubar - so was it just the c2 that you got overhauled?
 

MajorFubar

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rtbaudio said:
I'm considering exactly the same set of modifications MajorFubar - so was it just the c2 that you got overhauled?
Yep, just the C2, my PSX needed no work. 100% happy with the results, definitely go for it.
 

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