My podcast dreams may be floating, but that won’t stop me from helping you bring yours to life. AKG is part of the Harman brand group and sells some pretty high quality audio equipment in India. It was my first time seeing the Lyra microphone on Amazon for a relatively good price so I just had to see what it was about.
What is it?
The AKG Lyra is a desktop condenser microphone with a USB interface that is ideal for video conferencing and podcasting and is useful wherever a microphone is needed. As a condenser microphone, it’s extremely sensitive, which can be good or bad depending on the environment. The USB-C interface ensures universal compatibility – also on mobile devices such as the iPad – and ensures a clean desktop. It’s a bit of an overt retro design, but you might like that depending on how your desk looks.
Features: Fully loaded
The AKG Lyra’s features and controls really make it a one-stop shop for amateur podcasters. The most important of these is the multi-pattern nature of the lyre. This means that you can only record the sound from the front, from the front and from the back, as a narrow stereo tape from the front, or a wide stereo tape from the front. Whether you’re alone, interviewing someone at the other table, or having a group chat with a group of people behind you, the Lyra is there for you. There’s a standard 3.5mm stereo jack on the bottom that allows you to monitor your mix or simply listen to your device’s audio output from a single location.
There are practical rotary controls for all functions of the Lyra – one on the front for the headphone / audio volume and two on the back for the microphone gain (its sensitivity) and the pattern selection (front, front / rear, narrow, wide stereo). There is also an eye-catching “MUTE” button with red backlighting on the front, so you can be doubly sure that you are not transmitting any kitchen noises on your business Zoom call. The microphone itself is mostly made of plastic, but is mounted on a heavy metal stand with a rubber mat underneath to keep it stable on a desk. It swivels around its axis via two knobs, with which the position of the microphone can be loosened, angled and tightened. The stands are also rotatable, so it’s pretty easy to find a nice, ergonomic position for the lyre.
Performance: clean sound, sensitive pickup
I’ve been using the AKG Lyra for a couple of months now and dragging it with me on business trips so I don’t miss any podcast pilot recordings. Since I’m a USB device, I didn’t have to take any other devices with me; Any computer, or in my case the iPad, works fine with the Lyra. However, it is a bit power hungry. You can’t use it with a mobile device unless you can somehow power the extra juice through a USB hub. That’s how I operated it with my iPad – via a powered USB-C hub. It’s pretty hard too; I measured an impressive 919 g on my scale. Coupled with the heavy stand, it is an uncomfortable item to travel with, but I have traveled.
As a condenser microphone, the Lyra is understandably sensitive. So if your application is podcasting, you need a quiet, preferably treated room to record. For me, even a slowly moving ceiling fan was clearly audible with the lyre during the recording. As a result, the microphone gain was set to be less than 25 percent of the range. The downside of this sensitivity is that you can conveniently place the microphone on your desk and simply speak in its general direction for loud and clear conference calls. I have also come to appreciate the mute button on the front, so that outside noise that would otherwise be picked up while I was away can be cut off.
Ergonomically, you might find the placement of the pickup pattern and mic gain controls a bit strange on the back of the unit, but I think this is a wise decision. Ideally, once you have the gain set, you shouldn’t have to fiddle with it too much. The same goes for the pickup pattern, unless you find yourself in a situation where you start out on your own and then get picked up by others. The mute and volume controls up front make sense as they are likely to be used more often.
I also tested the AKG Lyra on a desktop computer through Nvidia’s “Broadcast” app, which uses GPU resources to clean up audio and reduce echoes, and found this to be an ideal, hands-on use case. The microphone stayed comfortably away from my face on the desk while it picked up audio loud and clear, with no background or extraneous noise.
Conclusion: An ideal mix of functions for recordings and conferences
The AKG Lyra is a good package. The included stand is of high quality and makes it easy to place the device on the desk. The different shooting patterns ensure that it adapts to any type of shooting environment and it looks great. The only downside I can think of is the strange shape and weight that make it unsuitable for field work. The AKG Lyra was listed on Amazon at Rs 7,499 at the time of writing. If you don’t need all of the features or pay attention to looks, you can check out another Harman product here – the JBL CSUM10 microphone, which we also tested.
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