Astrotec Lyra Classic: Like a fine wine
Today we’re checking out Astrotec’s most affordable member of the Lyra lineup, the Classic.
Astrotec’s lineup of Lyra earbuds dates back a few years and has recently been reinvigorated by the release of three new models; the Classic, the Lyra Collection 32 ohm, and the Lyra Collection 150 ohm. The Classic features a single 15mm dynamic driver inset within a lightweight metal shell. It features the same copper ball, high density filter tech found on both Lyra Collection models which contributed to their wide sound field and some interesting visual flair.
While there were come concessions made to the build in comparison to the Lyra Collection models, the Classic sounds every bit as good making it my favorite of the lineup. Let’s check it out in great detail, shall we?
A big thanks to Astrotec for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the Lyra Classic and for arranging a complimentary review sample. The thoughts within this review are my own and are not representative of Astrotec or any other entity. There was no financial incentive for writing this and I was given free reign to share my honest opinion.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer unique examples of signatures I enjoy.
For at home use the Lyra Classic was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFiMan MegaMini, or Shanling M1. I didn’t find the Lyra Classic particularly difficult to drive, though running it through the TEAC seemed to give it
- Driver: 15mm dynamic
- Impedance: 32 ohm
- Frequency Response: 15Hz-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB/1mW
- Max Input: 20 mW
Packaging and Accessories:
The Lyra Classic comes in essentially the same packaging is it’s more expensive counterparts, but for the Classic it’s been downscaled in size. I’ve always been obsessed with miniatures, scale models, etc., something that might just come with the territory when your last name is Smallman, so this smaller version of the Lyra Collection’s packaging was cool to see. On the front of the exterior sheath, you have the usual details; Astrotec branding, Lyra Classic in raised cursive, and the all-important “Hi-Res” logo. The rear contains specifications and product highlights, like the use of layered filters to improve sound stage, and a multi-core silver-plated cable to improve clarity and overall fidelity. I’ll let you decide for yourself the importance of cable material.
Removing the sheath reveals a texture grey cardboard box imprinted with the Astrotec brand name and slogan, “Explore real music”. A light tug on the ribbon on the right side serves to break the magnatic seal and flip back the book-like cover revealing a cardboard cover with the statement, “Thank you for choosing Astrotec. Our focus is give you the most intimate care.” Astrotec, please spend just that little extra on your translations and grammar. On cheap budget gear like that from Knowledge Zenith, it’s expected. With an established brand like Astrotec that has been around for a while, and whom sells premium products, attention to little details like this can go a long way.
Removing the cardboard cover reveals the Lyra Collection nestled in a protective foam cut-out. Right below is the same premium carrying case that comes with the Lyra Collection 32 and 150 ohm models. The rest of the accessories you get are plentiful. In all you receive;
- Lyra Classic ear buds
- Leatherette carrying case
- 3 pairs of donut foams
- 3 pairs of ear hooks/fins
- One pair flexible over-ear cable guides
- Airplane adapter
If you’re familiar with the Lyra Collection, you might have noticed this is the same kit, sans leather cable strap, which I found more than suitable for a 300 USD product. At less than half the cost of that model, this kit is outstanding save for the questionable decision to include an airplane adapter. Ear buds do not isolate. Airplanes are noisy. A 1/4″ adapter would have been a wiser inclusion in my eyes.
Build and Comfort:
The Lyra Collection is wonderfully built with all metal ear pieces painted in a matte tannish silver, accented tastefully by slender black stripes that wrap around the middle and rear. There were some glue artifacts left over from the manufacturing process that, unlike on the Lyra Collection, wouldn’t wipe or scrape off. Fit and finish in general, however, is excellent with all part fitting tightly without any gaps or off-kilter sections. I especially love the attention to detail paid to the filters covering the rear and especially over the driver. The rear grill is made up of finely pebbled copper that really gives the Lyra a uniquely high-end aesthetic. The front grill does much of the same with the vents made up of a series of small + signs. I fully expect both of these areas to be dirt magnets and tough to clean without a small brush, but really, who cares when it looks this good?
In terms of comfort, the Lyra offers up pretty much what you’d expect from the earbud form factor. The 15mm driver means it has a wide and fairly deep footprint, though it’s not quite as thick as other buds like the OURART Ti7 or Penon BS1. They fit me well, especially over ear, and I find them stable and perfectly acceptable for long listening periods. The Masya and Mojito from Rose are slightly better for me in terms of comfort, but those earbud’s unique design seems to be somewhat divisive in terms of fit.
Where the Lyra Classic’s build take a bit of a dip compared to it’s stable mates is in the cable which feels underwhelming. If you’re familiar with the sheath Knowledge Zenith uses on the vast majority of their products, you’ll be right at home here. It’s a bit tacky and sticky and on the thin side above the y-split and prone to twisting around itself if not stored carefully. On the plus size, cable noise is virtually nonexistent, it doesn’t remember kinks or bends, is properly relieved at the compact 90 degree angles jack and ear pieces, and has a functional chin cinch that is really handy for getting a rock solid fit.
Overall I absolutely love the build and aesthetics of the Lyra Classic. Where the blue of the Collection models is eye-catching, the tannish silver used here is subtle and really quite upscale. I would love to see them revise the Classic with a cable more suitable to the price range. It works well enough as-is though, and if anything like Knowledge Zenith’s cable the stickiness will go away and be replaced with an almost powdery feel that glides over surfaces with ease.
Foams and Fins: I found the Classic a little to lean and thin for my preferences when run bare, so I spent most of my time listening with the included donut foams. If you want to thicken the sound up further, either toss on some full foams or donuts with a more dense material, like the red donuts that come with the VE Monk+ Expansion pack. The included fins sealed too well imo, and hindered sound stage and clarity somewhat. They still sounded fine, but I got a secure enough fit with the donuts that also happened to sound great.
The Lyra Classic has a lean and light note presentation which gives them a very open and airy stage; instrument separation is well above average with each aspect of a track clearly present. To my ears, there is absolutely no congestion unless listening at overly high volumes and with the rubber ear hooks in place. Imaging is spot on for an ear bud with very crisp shifts between channels. I found the Classic quite immersive when used for gaming, and less so for film due to the minimal bass quantity. As expected from an open-back bud, the Classic has a fairly broad sound stage, just not one that’s obvious all the time. Most of the time the stage doesn’t extend past your shoulders, but at times, such as on “Billy Jean” it can throw effects well past.
Treble and mids have outstanding resolution with impressive micro-detail. The downfall is it pulls out lots of track imperfections and is not suitable for lower quality files, Youtube, Soundcloud, etc. The Classic’s upper ranges are also quite airy and spacious due to a strong representation of space between each note. The mid-range is more weighty than the rest of the signature, though still comes across a bit lean. More realistic feedback coming from vocal performances resulting from a balanced mid-range that is well suited to both female and male vocals. Bass is low on weight and impact, though extension is pretty good with foams installed. Decay is quite quick, if not a little too quick for ambient, EDM and bass reliant genres where a bit of linger is welcome. Texturing is fantastic though and gives your music refreshing depth.
Overall I found the Lyra Classic a technically impressive listen. The skew towards a brighter sound with more mid and treble presence can be a bit tiring at higher volumes. At lower volumes, the balance is great for longer listening sessions, regardless of whether you’re listening critically or not.
OURART Ti7 (59.00 USD): The Ti7 and Classic have a similarly realistic tone and timber. The Ti7 has a thicker, more weighty presentation with a stronger focus on mid-range and mid-bass. Treble on the Classic is more forward and prominent with greater airiness to it. While it’s overall level of detail is quite good, it takes a noticeable step back from the Classic. Both have excellent sound stages with the Classic showing improved depth and layering, and more precise imaging. It’s lighter, leaner sound really helps with this.
They are both impressively well constructed with metal housings though the Ti7 has an advantage due to it’s MMCX equipped removable cable. It’s cable is also silver-plated, but nicely braided with a more durable and flexible sheath that is 100% free of any stickiness. Their designs are both quite attractive in my opinion, though in very different ways. The Classic is luxurious and expensive looking whereas the Ti7 takes on an a heavy industrial influence, from the automotive world according to OURART, and is simple and angular.
Penon BS1 Official (99.00 USD): The BS1 has a much thicker and fuller presentation that the Classic. It does a better job of equally representing the entire frequency range and as a result comes across as a more balanced sounding bud. The Classic does a better job of pulling micro detail, especially in the mid-range where the BS1 sounds lightly veiled. The BS1’s low end is a bit slower and less nimble, but is more weighty and impactful.
In terms of build, the BS1’s design isn’t anything to write home about with a very simple, somewhat generic design. That bodes well for it’s fir and comfort though. The Lyra’s design is definitely more impressive and complicated, befitting of it’s higher price tag. What doesn’t support that price tag os the difference in cables, of which the BS1’s is light years ahead in every way.
Rose Masya (109.00 USD): The Masya and Classic share similar signatures with a treble and mid-range focus, though the Masya comes across a touch brighter. The Masya’s dual driver’s dig deeper into the low end. While the Masya matches the Classic in terms of detail, I find it’s mid-range slightly thinner and that is displays occassional sibilance which the Classic is free of. Both have a great sound stage, with the Masya showing greater spacial presence. I found the Classic more accurate with it’s imaging, though layering and separation is quite good on both.
In terms of build, the Lyra’s carefully crafted metal shells are much, much more premium looking and feeling than the Masya’s 3D printed plastic shells. The Masy’a cable doesn’t look like anything special with a plain black rubber shealth, but it is wonderfully behaved with little noise transmition, memory, and decent flexibility, It’s also terminated in 2-pin connectors and can be replaced if necessary, a feature not found on the Classic.
The Lyra Classic is a strong entry in the sub 150 USD category. It has an elegant design and detailed sound that really isn’t much of a step down from Astrotec’s more premium offerings. The accessory kit is fairly extensive and while the cable could see some improvement, I’ve seen worse on more expensive gear. At around 140 USD I feel the Lyra Classic is appropriately priced and is worth your time if the described signature is in line with your preferences.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Album)
Elton John – Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)