Product review: Cyrus soundKey USB DAC & Headphone Amp

The Cyrus soundKey helps get superior sound performance from smartphones, tablets and laptops.

We’re just stepping into the new year, and I’m sure there will be loads of new products out in the next 12 months that we can get stuck into. But what about something that’s been around for decades? Something so ingrained in society that it’s become almost the norm to have many of these dotted around your home? Perhaps some of you were given these as a gift for Christmas? Well if you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about headphones. We are going to see plenty of new headphones hit our stores this year but I’m actually not here to talk about headphones today. It’s something related to headphones, but it’s more of an add-on: the Cyrus soundKey.

What on Earth is a soundKey? Well, let’s find out…

Cyrus’ soundKey is a portable USB DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) and headphone amp, aimed at use for smartphones and tablets. While these devices have their own built in DACs, they are often low quality units which can really hinder your music. The soundKey bypasses onboard DACs and uses it’s own dedicated circuitry to provide you with a much better sound performance.

Upon opening the tiny box, it becomes pretty obvious that the build quality on this product is top notch. It’s not overly heavy and despite is small stature, it feels robust and superbly built. With dimensions of 23 x 54 x 8mm and weighing in at just 18 grams, it’s hard to envisage what to expect from this headphone DAC. I guess the only thing to do is to set it up and hear for ourselves.

Set up is pretty straight forward, as all we have here is a 3.5mm headphone output and a micro USB connection. If you use anything other than an Apple product it couldn’t be easier. Plug the mini USB into your phone or tablet and attach the headphones. However if you use iPhone or and iPad, you’re going to need to buy a separate Apple camera kit to make this all work. This does add some additional bulk and wires to the process, but the DACs small stature does aid this a bit. You can also use the soundKey with your laptop via the USB connection so if that’s your thing, you’re more than covered.

I myself have an iPhone so unfortunately I have to dig out the aforementioned camera kit to see how this all sounds. It’s a good job I went to the trouble, because the improvement in sound quality is incredible. Whether I use Spotify or music that’s stored on my iPhone, the difference is quite staggering for something so small. Playing it back through some headphones without the soundKey makes everything feel a little bit flat. This little gem from Cyrus takes the audio and boosts it all magnificently. There’s a lot more depth to the tracks and the power it produces is quite amazing. Everything I put through it seems to be amplified and gives a totally new experience to listening to music on the go. My colleague has an Android phone which he used and was also thoroughly impressed with the upgrade in sound.

If you want an upgrade on listening to music through headphones then the Cyrus soundKey is definitely worth a look. Pop down to your local Richer Sounds and bring your smart phone to listen for yourself.

Click to find out more about the Cyrus soundKey.

Author: Bradley, Plymouth store

This article has 4 comments

  1. Great write up! – how does this compare to Audioquests Dragonfly units? and did you test this on any other equipment other than an iPhone i.e. home PC/Mac etc..  Also did you test this with/without an Audioquest Jitterbug? – currently looking at options for a good quality DAC and have been swaying towards the Audioquest Dragonfly (with Jitterbug) – so just curious! 🙂

    • Hi Paul,

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

      While both the DACs in question are highly regarded, wen it comes to comparing items, it all comes down to personal taste. For that reason, we recommend using our Store Finder to locate your nearest Richer Sounds and get in touch to arrange a demo of both units and let your ears decide.

  2. Why oh why have you not published what the components are?? Whats the DAC, what AMP section is it using???