I’m not certain you can ever have enough microphones as you can always find an application or need for one more. AKG has just released the new Ara USB microphone and although it has a vintage vibe and look, its features are forward. AKG is known for its professional microphones utilized for vocals and instrument reproduction, in-ear monitor systems, wireless mics, and headsets.
The Ara is their second mic in the USB series after the popular Lyra microphone. What I prefer about the Ara is the metal base is heavy and very stable, but you can also remove it from the base and attach it to a microphone stand. It features two control knobs on the front. The top knob is for microphone pattern selection the front mode is for vocals, voiceovers, podcasting, micing instruments, or gamers. The Front & Back mode allows the microphone to capture audio from both sides which is ideal for recording groups, interviews, video production, and two podcaster speakers. It essentially gives you two microphones in one device. The bottom knob controls the volume of your headphones/earbuds for monitoring and can also mute when pushed in. The AKG Ara includes a USB C to USB cable, and it connects to the microphone in the back. That is also where the 35mm stereo output jack for your headphones is located. The tension knobs on the side of the Ara mic provide secure angle adjustment.
Key Features: Microphone, stand, stand adapter, and USB cable are included, and it is simple to plug in and start cutting audio right out of the box.
Build Quality: This is a well-made microphone that looks vintage but sounds modern.
Sound and Tone: It performed perfectly for voice and instrument reproduction and did not overdrive easily. The Front & Back option is really a great idea.
Hardware: Heavy-duty microphone with a solid metal base and a pad on the bottom to isolate ambient sounds and vibrations.
Pros: A versatile USB microphone at an affordable price and looks classy.
Cons: A carrying bag or case would be nice to protect it when traveling.
Verdict: The AKG Ara has a street price of just $99 and you get a lot of microphone for your money. I have paid more than that for other USB mics that didn’t have half of the features of the Ara or the sound quality. The included microphone stand adapter is a smart idea for boom stands and other accessories. The Ara is compatible with computers, tablets, and smartphones (you may need adapters for some devices) and it includes Ableton Live 11 Lite software for free to record with. People won’t believe this is a $99 microphone when you show up with it, due to the looks and the sound quality.