Today we are checking out the all new Lyra Collection 150 ohm earbud from Astrotec.
Astrotec isn’t new to the audio scene and has been producing products in one form or another since 2004. When I was first getting into the hobby, they were one of the few companies producing affordable hybrids and unique flagship ear buds like the original triple-hybrid Lyra. The version of the Lyra we’re reviewing today eschews the complicated triple driver setup of the older model and takes things back to basics with a single, expertly tuned 15mm dynamic. This version of the Lyra with its crisp, detailed sound and luxurious build quality comes at a 100 USD premium over the 299 USD 32 ohm version and as such falls firmly under luxury item status.
Is it worth it? That’s up to you so let’s check it out in greater detail.
*Since the 32 ohm and 150 ohm Lyras are virtually identical save for how they sound, much of my Lyra 32 ohm review will be recycled and tailored where necessary.*
A big thanks to Astrotec for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the Lyra 150 ohm 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 was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or Auglamour GR-1 with my Asus FX53V laptop as the music. For portable use it was paired with a HiFiMan MegaMini or Shanling M1 teamed up with the Walnut F1 or Auglamour GR-1. The Lyra 150 requires a bit of juice to shine.
- Driver: 15mm dynamic
- Impedance: 150 ohm
- Frequency Response: 15Hz-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 102dB/1mW
- Input: 5mW
- Max-input: 25mW
Packaging and Accessories:
The packaging has a luxurious air to it’s design starting with the exterior sleeve which features a simplistic gray and white colour scheme and wire frame image of the Lyra on the front. Text advising this is a ‘Lyra Collection earbud’ is written in cursive, a style of writing that sadly seems to be fading away. In the bottom left corner and sticking out due to it’s bold yellow and black colouring is an official ‘Hi-Res Audio’ certification logo, earned though the Lyra’s wide frequency response of 15 Hz – 40 Khz. Flipping to the back of the sleeve nets you discussion of some of the Lyra’s features and a specification list. Some notable features are Astrotec’s use of a special filter module that utilizes micro beads to purify “unpleasant frequencies and suppress internal reflection.” The cable is also not only drop dead gorgeous, but is also a quality piece fusing 6N crystal copper and silver plated copper cores, 8 cores in total, into a braided masterpiece of construction. This cable screams quality with it’s only downfall being that it is permanently affixed to the Lyra, something that will undoubtedly be a deal-killer for some potential buyers.
Removing the exterior sheath reveals a plain textured gray box, adorned only with the Astrotec brand name. Cut the security seal and flip back the magnetic flap and behold, another slip of cardboard. This one thanks you for choosing the brand;
“Thank you for choosing Astrotec and we hope you enjoy the listening experience.”
Underneath this final insert you are presented with the Lyra itself, safely nestled within a foam pad. Below is Astrotec’s premium protein leather earphone case which gives Campfire Audio’s gorgeous case a run for it’s money. In general the construction of Astrotec’s case is quite good with cleanly stitched lines and a lid which clasps securely closed via a fairly strong hidden magnet. The remainder of the accessories are tucked into a cardboard enclosure neatly hidden beneath the foam pad. It’s a pretty comprehensive accessory kit too, giving you plenty of opportunity to secure an ideal fit;
- 3 pairs of donut foams
- 1 pair of silicone ear guides
- 3 pairs of silicone ear fins (s/m/l)
- Velcro cable strap
- Airplane adapter
The airplane adapter is a somewhat odd inclusion in my opinion. Being the Lyra is an ear bud, it does not isolate at all and as a result using it in such a loud environment would net a severely compromised listening experience. The volumes you’d likely need to listen at would also mean sound would be bleeding into you environment. I’m sure your music is fantastic, but guaranteed not everyone around you will be in the mood for it.
As already mentioned, the cable on this thing is glorious. Not only is it perfectly braided and with contrasting silver and copper cores that make it very nice to look at, nearly everything else impresses too. First of all, cable noise is basically non-existent regardless of whether you choose to wear the Lyra cable up or down; either orientation works perfectly well by the way. Despite it being fairly thick with it’s eight individual cores, it’s extremely supple and flexible. Strain relief is excellent too, well, everywhere but the y-split that is. There you get a very effective chin cinch instead of strain relief. To help differentiate between the 32 ohm and 150 ohm variants which otherwise look identical, their ohm rating is printed on the 90 degree angle jack.
This impressive build continues to the ear pieces themselves which are all metal, painted in a soft blue and accented tastefully in black and silver. The glue artifacts found on the 32ohm version were absent here. Gaps between parts are nonexistent and everything fits together with precision and accuracy. I especially love the attention to detail paid to the grills covering the back and driver. The rear grill is made up of finely pebbled metal that really gives the Lyra a unique 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 ear bud 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 and I find them stable and easy to wear over long periods. The Masya and Mojito from Rose are better for me in terms of comfort, but those ear bud’s unique design seems to be somewhat divisive in terms of fit.
Foams: Like the other Lyra models, the 150 thickens up with full foams and has more low end presence, keeps some brightness and brings up the low end with donuts, and remains lights and airy with a restrained low end when naked. I enjoyed the more balanced nature of the included donuts and performed my testing with one of the included sets.
While the current line up of Lyra ear buds from Astrotec all pull from the same general signature, not unlike how TFZ tuned their Exclusive lineup of in ears, they each have their own character. The Lyra Collection 150 ohm is the most balanced and technically capable of the three, which to me is befitting of it’s flagship status.
The 150’s treble is well extended with a smooth roll off and softer peaks than the Classic, with a touch more emphasis and lift than the 32 ohm. It’s also slightly thicker and more precise than the Classic, but thinner sounding than the 32. Since the overall presentation tilts towards the leaner side of things, this plus the open back nature of the 150 gives the upper ranges a very open and spacious feel. The 150 does a great job with shimmering, crisp textures such as those found throughout Gramatik’s “The Age of Reason” album, including the prickly high hats that kick off “Bluestep”.
The lower treble lift and generally neutral to slightly forward mid-range really gives helps gives vocals great presence, be they male or female. On tracks such as Adele’s “Skyfall”, her passion and emotion bleeds through and completely draws your focus. The same is true for Paul Williams on Daft Punk’s “Touch”. Compared to the Classic, the 150 is more rich and full yet retains the same level of texture and detail. The 32 is thicker still and gives up micro-detail and nuance to the 150. Timbre is also improved over the Classic, though similar in presentation to the 32.
Bass quality is where the 150 sets itself apart from the rest of the lineup. While focus is still mostly in mid-bass regions, depth is improved as is attack and overall punch. While the Lyra 150 is definitely not bass heavy, drums and electronic drops hits with a solid impact. Decay is on the quick side so lingering notes trail off a touch early, however, it’s still handled well for a bud with this style of tune. Texture is stellar with grungy tones having proper depth and grit to them.
As expected, the Lyra 150’s sound stage is quite good. Ample ventilation and the unique copper filters combine to give them the more spacious and varied stage of the lineup. Running through BT’s experimental albums, “This Binary Universe” and “If the Stars Are Eternal Then So Are You and I”, the cosmic tone was effectively captured with effects swirling well out of your head space. Imaging is also slightly improved over the other Lyra models with a tad more depth in layering. Separation is similarly excellent throughout with the 32 ohm lagging behind a step.
Astrotec’s revived lineup of Lyra ear buds are unique, beautiful, and well constructed, giving off an air of luxury to the eyes and in hand. More importantly, they perform admirably and are consistent in providing you with a pleasant listening experience. As you would expect being the flagship of the lineup, the 150 ohm’s audio experience is the most impressive. Still, it comes at a significant cost disproportionate to the increase in performance when moving from the Classic, to the 32 ohm, and finally to the 150 ohm. Of course you also get some upgrades to the build quality in the form of one of the best cables in the business, but I don’t know if that quite justifies the cost.
Regardless, the Lyra Collection 150 ohm is a stellar product and is as easy on the eyes as it is on the ears. You just need to decide for yourself if it’s worth nearly 400 USD. If in the market for a premium ear buds, give it a go and see what you think.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
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)