In October 2019, HARMAN-owned AKG introduced the first USB microphone in its long history – the Lyra. This way, AKG lined itself up among the very few premium studio mic brands that throw content creators a straw like that. The USD 199 Lyra must have seen enough success to warrant expanding the line with another, more affordable model – the USD 99 Ara.
AKG Ara USB microphone
The Ara is a USB-powered and connected condenser microphone that toggles between cardioid and omni polar patterns – a feature rarely, if ever seen in this price range. The cardioid pattern lets you record sources in front of the mic while rejecting side and rear sounds as much as possible for sensitive condensers. This is what you’d choose to record a podcast or voiceover. Likewise, the omni pattern captures audio from the front and rear sides which makes it possible to record guests and instruments with room sound.
Sporting a clean, practical look in the recognisable AKG style, the Ara mounts on its own integrated stand and has headphone output, mic mute, and pattern selection controls on the front. I assume the headphone output volume doubles as a gain control, which makes sense on a mic geared towards novices. The Ara records digital audio in respectable 24-bit / 96kHz resolution at a maximum loudness level of 120dB. Add the included accessories, such as the USB cable and microphone stand adapter, and AKG offers a robust package for the money.
I like how the USD 99 price point is where USB mic makers are really duking it out in terms of added value. I mean, they have to – if everyone can whip up a decent USB mic at that price nowdays, how do they compete? And how are customers supposed to choose? While brand loyalty is absolutely a thing, more often than not such mics are marketed to people with a vague (if any) understanding of who’s who in pro audio. So there you have it – AKG does dual polar patterns, RODE does DSP, and the Yeti Nano… looks cute, I guess.
Price and availability
The Ara is available for pre-order from AKG and its dealers, such as Thomann (affiliate link) for USD 99. It may take a few weeks before stock ramps up and the mic is ready for direct shipping.
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