Unassuming but very charming sound; upgrade potential. Could sound too distant; lacks commitment.
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Reviewed in issue: 163
Small but perfectly formed, the latest addition to the Cyrus brand has clearly been conceived to blend in with the growing clan of tuner, amp and AV separates. All these components are shoe-horned into a very distinctive mini-sized case that's somewhat deeper than it's wide, and equipped with fluted heatsinking (superfluous in this instance) and a very attractive back-lit liquid-crystal display.
The dAD3 looks superficially similar to Cyrus's earlier, and costlier, dAD7 though this was a top-loader and based on a very different 18-bit technology. In point of fact, the dAD3 has a sleeker display to accommodate a new front-loading CD assembly based on Philips' popular CDM12 mechanism. Otherwise, the row of function buttons, including track-skip, search, repeat and program play, looks pretty similar, as does the familiar Cyrus handset with its extra direct access, display and master off controls.
Furthermore, and in common with the likes of Arcam and Micromega, Cyrus is also adopting a more modular design approach. For example, it's possible to upgrade the dAD3 with an outboard PSX-R power supply, a high-current reservoir that also reduces any supply-induced jitter currently suffered by the player. There's also a retro-fittable 'Q-module' that supplants the dAD3's existing TDA1305 DAC for a new stage featuring the same 18-bit Analog Devices converters used very successfully in the earlier dAD7. Once fitted, preferably by your dealer, the upgrade is acknowledged by a little 'Q' legend in the corner of the dAD3's display. A neat touch for a very neat little player.
Many players in the recent past have done rather well with Philips' hybrid converter, Cambridge and Rotel among them, and this Cyrus dAD3 is not about to buck such a favourable trend. Nevertheless, the Cyrus implementation does yield a slightly softer, less pointed style of delivery, convincing our listeners with guile and subtlety rather than orchestral ordnance.
In line with more expensive playback experience, Rachmaninov's 3rd Symphony unfolded with a fluid seamlessness, one theme developing smoothly into another and drawing us deeper into an undemanding pool of sound. The flourish of the violins was not as confident as possible but then neither did the raw quality of Adderley's sax tear our ears off - and yet each instrument, or group of instruments, still seemed blessed with a wealth of colourful detail.
Like Rotel's player, the dAD3 also relishes a strong bass line. This was as evident from the confident roll of timpani as the resurgence in weight and sheer presence of the low strings from our classical selection. Meanwhile, the sudden appearance of a very, very low drum from Ali Khan's Face of Love, slipping unexpectedly from the depths of the subwoofer, which caused at least one listener to sit up in pleasant surprise!
Though this mid-priced dAD3 is not exactly replacing the older dAD7, the latter is in the process of being phased-out. And at least you can stack other units on top of the dAD3 without blocking access to the CD loading bay! Meanwhile, not unlike Kenwood's DP-7090, the dAD3 is settling very nicely into production with one or two earlier technical issues having been resolved by updates to the PCB. As such, and bearing in mind the 'open-ended' nature of the product with its PSX-R power supply and Q-module upgrade options, the dAD3 looks to be a most effective successor. Like the rest of the range, it's a stylish player, clearly oriented towards a complete Cyrus system and, as such, comes confidently recommended.