AKG Ara Microphone Review: Easy to Use, and It Sounds Great

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The Lowdown

At under $100, the AKG Ara microphone is an inexpensive way to upgrade your recording or conference call experience. It is designed to be simple to set up and use but packed with the technology to make recordings sound great, whether you are alone or having a dialogue or interview with someone else.

Overall
4.5

Pros

  • Solid metal build
  • “Modern retro” look
  • Can be used on a desk or attached to a boom mic
  • 2.5mm jack for monitoring
  • Simple controls
  • Dual condenser means it is great for recording solo but equally suitable for recording interviews
  • Inexpensive for what you get

Cons

  • Included cable is USB-C to USB-A, so you will need an adapter to use it with current MacBooks, iPhones, or iPads
  • Not enough controls to truly be “professional grade”
AKG Ara Microphone Review: Easy to Use, and It Sounds Great Listen to this article

Cameras and microphones have become part of daily life for many of us during the pandemic. While most external video cameras have built-in microphones, they’re usually only slightly better than using the microphone integrated into a laptop. Unfortunately, the best external microphones are often rather complicated to use. However, the AKG Ara microphone is an excellent dual pattern USB mic, and it’s easy to use.

AKG Ara Microphone retail packaging

The AKG Ara microphone is a fairly small, elegant mic with a metal case in a striking combination of silver and grey.

AKG Ara microphone

The Ara is described as a “modern design with vintage appeal;” I agree, and I am struck by how professional one looks when using a microphone like this.

Woman singing into an AKG Ara microphone while playing guitar.

The AKG Ara microphone ships with a desk stand and an adapter if you prefer to use it on a boom mic stand. You also get a USB-C cable that is long enough that you’ll likely be able to use the microphone comfortably without the need to change the location or position of your computer.

On the front of the microphone, you’ll find two knobs.

Buttons on the front of the AKG Ara microphone

The top knob lets you choose between the two capture array modes supported by the AKG Ara microphone. When turned to the left, the microphone will capture only the audio coming from the front of the microphone; this is ideal if you are recording a podcast or a video of yourself.

Man and a woman recording a podcast with the AKG Ara microphone

When the knob is turned to the right, the AKG Ara microphone captures the sound coming from both the front and back; this is ideal for recording a conversation between two or more people.

The lower knob controls the volume; it also lets you quickly mute the microphone by simply pushing in on the button. A small LED between the knobs lets you know when the microphone is muted. And while it may be a small LED, having it positioned where it is will help avoid those embarrassing “hot mic” moments we’ve all likely had.

As AKG explains:

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The AKG Ara two-pattern USB microphone lets podcasters, bloggers, gamers and musicians capture pro-quality, high-resolution sound right from their desktops. Whether you’re streaming or recording, capture audio at 24-bit, 96kHz resolution for crystal-clear speech clarity and stunning vocal and instrument tracks.

Ara’s dual pickup patterns let you focus on a single voice or instrument or everyone in the room: Choose the directional Front (cardioid) pattern to focus on sound directly in front of the mic while rejecting sound from other sides; use the Front + Back (omni) pattern to pick up sounds all around the mic, such as multiple speakers or a group of performers.

Use Ara on a desktop, boom, stand or even on the go, with an optional adapter and your mobile device. It’s plug-and-play simple, thanks to USB connectivity and class-compliant drivers.

At the bottom of the AKG Ara microphone, a USB-C input works in conjunction with the included USB-C to USB-A cable and a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring.

That’s it when it comes to controls and settings on this mic, and that’s the point. The AKG Ara microphone is designed to be simple to set up and even more straightforward to use. The AKG Ara microphone may not necessarily be a professional mic, but it is targeted toward people like me who may not be professionals but who create all kinds of content.

AKG makes this abundantly clear by pricing it below $100 and then reinforcing the point when they talk about its ease of setup, universal compatibility, intuitive plug-and-play setup, and compatibility with Mac, PC, iOS, and Android tablets and phones.

The AKG Ara microphone looks great and is visually striking, but what really matters is the sound when it comes to a microphone. The good news is that AKG is one of the leaders in microphone technology, and the AKG Ara microphone has the quality to upgrade your audio input significantly.

From a technical experience, it features:

  • Pro-Grade, High-Quality Sound: 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution converters
  • Two Capsule Array Modes: Two-capsule mic array provides two user-friendly capture modes
  • Complete Production Solution: Includes Ableton Live 11 Lite audio production software

Here’s a promotional video look:

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I’ve used quite a few different microphones at many price points over the years, but I have been impressed by the AKG Ara microphone. On camera, it looks great. From a practical perspective, its metal construction makes it a durable investment. And from the perspective of using the microphone, the best way to explain that is by offering a demo.

At under $100, the AKG Ara microphone is an inexpensive way to upgrade your recording or conference call experience. It is designed to be simple to set up and use but packed with the technology to make recordings sound great, whether you are alone or having a dialogue or interview with someone else.

AKG Ara Microphone Review: Easy to Use, and It Sounds Great

I highly recommend the AKG Ara microphone and have already made it part of my recording and Zoom set up in my office at the synagogue.

The AKG Ara microphone sells for $99; it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Solid metal build; “Modern retro” look; Can be used on a desk or attached to a boom mic; 2.5mm jack for monitoring; Simple controls; Dual condenser means it is excellent for recording solo but equally suitable for recording interviews; Inexpensive for what you get

What Needs Improvement: Included cable is USB-C to USB-A, so you will need an adapter to use it with current MacBooks, iPhones, or iPads; Not enough controls to truly be “professional grade”

 

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.