Harman has today announced a new USB mic aimed squarely at podcasters, musicians and other content creators, the AKG Ara. It’s a two-pattern USB condenser microphone, meaning it has two pickup points for audio, and this makes it suitable as a general room mic as well as for recording a single individual’s voice.
The AKG Ara records 24-bit, 96kHz audio, using a front-and-back pattern to pick up sound evenly from all sides. This is one of the reasons it’s particularly tilted towards podcasters, as it’s a well-designed tool for capturing all of a conversation between multiple participants.
It also is designed to be plug-and-play, with a simple USB connection and broadly compatible drivers. Once it’s hooked up to your computer, you should be good to go. It can hand up to 120 dB SPL (sound pressure level) before distorting, which is about double the decibel level of a normal conversation. This should provide a good deal of latitude for recording a heated discussion!
Harman also suggests the AKG Ara as being useful for vloggers looking to do interviews or other kinds of content where the mic doesn’t have to move too much – though there is a mobile adapter if you do want to record on the go. The firm also mentioned streaming gamers as a group who might find it handy, as a means of improving the quality of their voiceover audio.
Having 120 dB SPL headroom also means that musicians could find the AKG Ara useful; the makers suggest the mic as potentially being a good choice to record an entire room, perhaps for scratch tracks or demos.
The mic has a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio monitoring. All controls are located on the front, including pattern selection, mute, headphone volume control and pattern selection. There are also various mounting options, with a yoke and stand included in the box. However, the mic is small and compact enough to be attached to a boom or regular stand if so desired.
The price tag of £99 puts the AKG at the cheaper end of high-quality USB microphones. We’ll have to see if it merits a place in our guide to the best USB mics. It’s due to be available this month onward.