New Toys: AKG ARA Two-pattern USB Microphone

The AKG ARA is a new USB microphone/interface that easily fits onto your computer desktop and is perfect for your Zoom and blog work. Perfect because, just like a studio microphone, it has a choice of two pickup patterns: cardioid and omni-directional.

I found the cardioid pattern very clear sounding with very little room sound and outside noises being picked up. Omni was better when I had others participating with me; all are heard well on the call when close in on the ARA.

The ARA has a clean look on camera too. It is very much like an AKG C-414 studio condenser except there are the pattern switch and playback volume controls knobs right on the front. The mic's body rests in a gimbal mount like a studio mic with cables connected to the USB-C (USB-C to USB-A cable included) and 3.5-mm TRS headphone mini-jacks coming out of the bottom.

You can "hang" the mic on a boom or any pro stand, because both the mic and base use standard 5/8-inch threading (a 3/8-inch to 5/8-inch adapter is also included). The included base is a solid disc big and heavy enough to offer stability wherever you find room for it on your desktop--it also has a non-slip base.

Sound quality is superb—exactly as I expect from an AKG microphone. A big reason is that 96kHz/24-bit A/D conversion is used and I found the mic to be able to handle very loud sound as well as quiet speech without noise. I liked the direct monitoring for checking myself at the same time as what is coming back from the Zoom app.

I think the AKG ARA is a big winner and can highly recommend it immediately for live-streaming, video conferencing and music recording applications. Its sells for $99 MSRP!