AKG Lyra Desktop USB Microphone Review – Tech News, Firstpost

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My podcast dreams may be in limbo, but that won’t stop me from helping you bring yours to life. AKG is part of the Harman group of brands and sells some rather high value audio equipment in India. I first saw the Lyra microphone on Amazon for a relatively good price, so I just had to see what it was all about.

Those who love retro designs will find the AKG Lyra right up their street. Image: Tech2 / Tushar Burman

What is that?

The AKG Lyra is a desktop condenser microphone with a USB interface, ideal for video conferencing, podcasting, and generally useful wherever a microphone is required. Being a condenser microphone, it is extremely sensitive, which can be good or bad, depending on the environment. The USB-C interface ensures it’s universally compatible, even on mobile devices like an iPad, and keeps your desktop clean. It’s a bit of an overtly retro design, but it might be to your liking, depending on how your desk looks.

Features: Fully loaded

The AKG Lyra’s features and controls truly make it a go-to for amateur podcasters. Chief among these is the multi-model nature of the Lyra. This means that you can choose to only pick up sound from the front, front and rear, such as a narrow stereo band from the front or a wide stereo band from the front. So whether you are alone, interviewing someone across the table or making a group call with a group of people behind you, Lyra has you covered. At the bottom is a standard 3.5mm stereo jack, allowing you to monitor your mix or just listen to your device’s audio output from one location.

The USB-C interface ensures it is universally compatible, even on mobile devices such as an iPad;  note 3.5mm stereo jack.  Image: Tech2 / Tushar Burman

The USB-C interface ensures it is universally compatible, even on mobile devices such as an iPad; note 3.5mm stereo jack. Image: Tech2 / Tushar Burman

There are convenient knobs for all of Lyra’s functions: one on the front for headphone / audio volume and two on the back for microphone gain (its sensitivity) and pattern selection (front, front / rear, narrow, wide stereo). There’s also a prominent “MUTE” button on the front with a red backlight, so you can be doubly sure you’re not broadcasting cooking sounds during your work Zoom call. The microphone itself is mostly plastic, but is mounted on a heavy metal stand with a rubber mat underneath, ensuring it stays stable on a desk. It rotates on its own axis via two knobs that allow you to loosen, tilt and tighten the position of the microphone. The mounts rotate too, so it’s pretty easy to find a comfortable, ergonomic position for the Lyra.

Performance: clean sound, sensitive pickup

I’ve been using the AKG Lyra for a few months now, taking it with me on business trips so I don’t miss any podcast pilot recordings. Being a USB device, I didn’t need to carry any other equipment with me; any computer or, in my case, iPad, works fine with Lyra. He is, however, somewhat power-hungry. You won’t be able to use it with a mobile device unless you can somehow provide the extra juice via a powered USB hub. Here’s how I did it with my iPad, via a powered USB-C hub. It is also quite heavy; I measured a substantial 919 g on my scale. Along with the heavy stand, it’s an awkward item to travel with, but I did the journey.

Being a condenser microphone, the Lyra is understandably sensitive, so if podcasting is your application, you’ll need to have a quiet, preferably treated room in which to record. To me, even a slow moving ceiling fan was clearly audible when recording with the lyre. The microphone gain was therefore set to less than 25% of the range. The downside to this sensitivity is that you can have the microphone comfortably away from your desktop and simply speak in its general direction for loud and clear conference calls. I’ve also come to like the foreground mute button, so that any external sound that would otherwise be picked up while I’m not speaking can be cut off.

Some may find the placement of the pattern and gain knobs odd, but it’s actually smart placement. Image: Tech2 / Tushar Burman

Ergonomically, you might find the placement of the pickup pattern and microphone gain knobs at the rear of the unit a little odd, but I think this is a smart decision. Ideally, once the gain is set, you shouldn’t need to mess with it too much. The same goes for the pickup model, unless you’re in a situation where you start out on your own and then get joined by others to record with. The mute and volume knob in the foreground are sensitive, as they are likely to be used more.

I also tested the AKG Lyra on a desktop computer via Nvidia’s “Broadcast” app which uses GPU resources to clean up audio and reduce echo, and found this to be an ideal use case and cheap. The microphone stayed comfortably away from my face on the desk, while it picked up the audio loud and clear, with no background noise or extraneous sounds.

Verdict: A mix of features ideal for recording, conferencing

The AKG Lyra is a good package. The included stand is of high quality and makes it easy to place the unit on your desk. The multiple pickup patterns ensure it fits into any type of recording environment and looks good to boot. The only negative that comes to mind is the odd shape and weight, making it unsuitable for field work. The AKG Lyra was listed at Rs 7,499 on Amazon at the time of writing. If you don’t need all the features or don’t care about looks, you can look at another Harman product – the JBL CSUM10 microphone, which we also reviewed, here.

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