AKG Ara plug-and-play USB microphone promises pro quality on a budget

Whether you're a streamer or a content creator, AKG's new Ara USB microphone offers what the company says is pro-tier sound quality at a budget price. The microphone offers two different capture modes, as well as universal compatibility with PC, Mac, and mobile devices, among many other features for users who need control over their audio.

Streaming and podcasting have become mainstream hobbies (and careers) for many people. Audio quality remains one of the big things separating more amateur productions from ones likely to draw in listeners, which is where a high-quality microphone comes in. However, pro-grade microphones typically come with a high price that may be beyond the budget of someone who is just getting started.

We've seen a number of cheaper options hit the market in recent years, the most popular arguably being the Blue Yeti mic. AKG is here to take on that model with Ara, which features 24-bit 96kHz converters, zero-latency monitoring with a headphone output, and controls for gain, output volume, and muting.

In addition to using a design that AKG feels will look good on camera, the company says its Ara also supports multiple mounting options, including sitting on a desktop, mounting it to a standard stand, or attaching it to a boom stand. Other features include dual-pickup patterns (Front and Omni) and bundled software.

The Ara microphone includes Ableton Live 11 Lite audio production software for those who don't already have a software workflow established. The model manages to undercut some of its competitors with a $99 USD price point, which would be quite inexpensive if the model lives up to AKG's pro-grade claim.