These are exciting times in the world of hi-fi, as long-established, premo quality brands embrace streaming. Things like Naim's Uniti Atom and Moon's hulking great Neo Ace offer all-in-one streaming solutions for the discerning but cost upwards of £2,000.
A rather more affordable option now arrives in the form of the ONE integrated amplifier, from Cambridge's amp experts Cyrus, paired with a Google Chromecast Audio dongle and a three-month sub to Tidal. The cost: £699.
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I got one of these packages in last night and for the money, and ease of setup, I can't really think of anything better. You can setup a Chromecast dongle in minutes via Google Home. Cyrus supplies a 3.5mm to phono cable, so the box really does have everything you need apart from loudspeakers. The Cyrus ONE also has apt-X Bluetooth built in, so Chromecasting is not your only option.
Then, through a pair of Monitor Audio Silver speakers, the sound is really spectacular – way better than something like the Naim Mu-so, although of course, this is nowhere near as attractive or convenient a setup as that.
Certainly, I could quibble with the slightly less-than-robust-feeling build quality of the ONE, and nobody is going to pretend that a Chromecast Audio is some kind of super high-end DAC solution. You can't really argue with the punchy and exciting sonic results from this simplest of rigs, though, and for the money, it's great.
Via the Google Home app, it's easy to connect to the Chromecast dongle and you can then stream your complimentary Tidal tunes or use Spotify, Google Play and a handful of other music apps. iOS users may find they're better off with Bluetooth, as Apple Music and tunes stored on your phone can't be Chromecasted with any ease.
On the other hand, Chromecast is an excellent system: robust, multi-room-capable, and it supports hi-res audio, if you're into that.
Science stuff: Cyrus ONE is a hybrid Class D amplifier, providing 2 x 100W of power into 6 Ω at 0.1% THD+N. Headphone fiends will love the dedicated high power, high voltage class AB headphone amplifier, and there's a moving magnet phono pre-amp, as well as a perhaps slightly stingy 4 line level inputs.
The remote control is a bit crap, but there's always the option of control via your iOS or Android device.
“It used to be the case that music streaming services were rejected by traditional audiophiles due to their inherent loss of quality," says Simon Freethy, Managing Director of Cyrus Audio. "But with lossless services like Tidal and the possibility to integrate these into affordable, high-quality consumer products, we’re on the verge of a listening revolution."
Bring it on.