Astrotec Lyra Collection 32ohm Review – Superior Expression

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Sound –

The Lyra Collection utilises a single 15mm dynamic driver over the triple driver setup of the original. That said, Astrotec have focussed more intensely on the surrounding acoustics, with extensive modification to the chambers creating a superior sound. In addition, the Collection implements an irregular copper filter that reduces internal refractions to deliver a cleaner sound. I put the Lyra Collection through 150hrs of burn-in to ensure that they were performing optimally during review.

As the Lyra Collection was designed to be used with foam covers, the following comments will be with donut foams equipped. I found that they slightly smooth off lower-treble and extend and lift bass. Without foams, the earbud still sound quite natural but they become notably brighter. Those wanting more treble attack will find a more agreeable experience without covers.

And, much like the similarly fitting Ourart Ti7, the Lyra Collection’s sound can also be slightly altered by varying its fit depth. Pushing the earbuds deeper into the ear netted a darker, fuller sound with greater bass impact. Conversely, letting the earbuds sit loosely in the outer air granted them with increased clarity and air; and I found the generally warmer Lyra Collection to sound most balanced when loosely fit.

 

Tonality –

The Lyra Collection isn’t neutral, but it does possess great balance from top to bottom. To further clarify, each frequency range possesses the potential to draw equal attention but its signature remains clearly sculpted. In particular, the Lyra Collection has slightly elevated mid and upper-bass, increasing vocal density, and similar emphasis within the upper-midrange and treble enhancing clarity and air.

 

Bass –

Bass forms the foundation of any sound and it’s for this reason that many ill-sealing earbuds fail to deliver a convincing image. Luckily, the Lyra Collection is among the best earbuds I’ve heard in terms of low-end balance and detail. With foams, the earbud delivers an agile bass response that prioritises focussed mid-bass attack over sub-bass slam. Its sub-bass extension is only modest, delivering softer impact and rumble, but the Lyra sounds more linear through its lower frequencies than the vast majority of earbuds. It has a slightly bolstered mid-bass response, creating its warmer tone, and a similar upper-bass elevation that grants the Lyra’s midrange with its syrupy vocal body.

That said, the Lyra’s bass emphasis is more subtle than most, and its greater linearity from mid-bass to lower-midrange enables high bass definition. This is augmented by quicker transience and great tightness that produce textured notes and an articulate listen. Though they are still on the warmer side, with larger notes, their quicker decay effectively mitigates bloat while aiding separation; creating a concise and detailed image. Again, this isn’t a neutral earbud nor is its low-end especially transparent, but as no particular emphasis compromises its presentation, it is a very balanced one.

 

Mids –

From analysis of their bass presentation, it is evident that the Lyra Collection will have a similar midrange tone to most earbuds; one of increased warmth and density. However, as the Lyra carries greater overall balance, its sound is cleaner and more transparent than the majority of rivals; if not especially transparent by in-ear standards. In particular, the Lyra’s midrange is evenly weighted throughout and well-proportioned to its bass response; with some colouration by way of added body to both male and female vocals. Additionally, as the Lyra’s lower-treble has hints of attenuation, it sounds very smooth and slightly laid-back.

Consequently, the earbud does not possess the most forward vocal presentation or the highest definition to each note, but it does sound very clean and refined. Instruments are also well present and have a nicely realistic timbre, in fact, they excel in this regard compared to the vast majority of earbuds. The Lyra’s midrange is also very natural and a slight upper-midrange lift imbues its sound with clarity. They, therefore, avoid sounding dull or overly laid-back and their excellent resolution enhances detail retrieval. The result is a natural, balanced midrange whose smoothness is counterbalanced by high resolving power and dynamics.

 

Treble –

It is within the higher frequencies that the Lyra Collection most excels. As aforementioned, lower-treble is slightly smoothed off, contributing to the cleanliness of their presentation and crafting slightly laid-back detailing. More specifically, cymbals, guitars and strings, though very detailed, have slightly shorter decay and lack a little attack and crispness. The earbud’s more sedate lower-treble is offset by a slight middle-treble lift that infuses the Lyra’s sound with additional top-end energy; producing enhanced air and greater sparkle. This is compounded upon by some of the best treble extension I’ve ever heard from an earbud; with impressive linearity into the upper-treble frequencies.

The Lyra Collection also has a small accentuation within its highest registers; a similar tuning to some high-end IEMs that emphasizes the finer nuances. Accordingly, the Lyra retrieves a lot of detail extending to a crisp albeit thin presentation of smaller micro-details and high-hats at the very top; especially impressive as most earbuds don’t resolve these details at all. Their extension also greatly contributes to their high levels of resolution that serve to improve separation and background detail presentation. As such, this is a very resolving earbud despite its smoother nature, and its timbre is far more realistic than similarly revealing competitors.

 

Soundstage –

The Lyra’s open form factor, open-back housing and extended, airy treble response form a recipe for success. The Lyra Collection comes into its own with regards to soundstage, with immense space and projection that bests some closed over-ear headphones. This is a gloriously expansive earbud much like the Rose earbuds. But, unlike those models, the Lyra isn’t diffuse but perfectly coherent and densely populated with detail. This mainly comes down to the Lyra’s linearity, it is a far more balanced earbud overall than competitors like the VE Asura 2.0S and Rose Masya and imaging is far more accurate as a result. The earbud also delivers quick transience and high-resolution forming great separation throughout.

 

Driveability & Synergy –

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The Lyra Collection has a reasonable 32ohm impedance with a 108dB sensitivity. As a result, it is one of the more sensitive earbuds out there, delivering just slightly less volume than the lower-impedance Shozy earbuds. And, as the Lyra Collection assumes a single dynamic driver setup, it sounds fairly consistent between sources of differing output impedance. I didn’t find the Lyra to require additional amplification but due to its warmer tone and more laid-back midrange, I found best synergy with more neutral sources of high-resolving power.

HTC U11: The U11 has nice driving power for a smartphone but also a higher output impedance and a slight bass emphasis. Accordingly, the Lyra Collection sounded nicely balanced from the HTC but with noticeably heightened bass impact. Highs were also lacking some extension and detail but the overall image was sound. Dynamics and soundstage space did notably suffer, I would suggest that the dongle has a fairly mediocre channel separation.

Fiio X7 II: The X7 II provides a more neutrally orientated sound with hints of additional engagement. It provided a fine companion to the Lyra Collection, delivering great end to end extension and thus, high resolution. The X7 II pairing produced the most balanced sound with a large stage and accurate imaging. This was my preferred pairing used for review.

Hiby R6: The R6 is a slightly darker, fuller source but one with high resolving power. Unsurprisingly, it produced a darker sound than the X7 II; bass was slightly warmer and mids were slightly smoother but with simultaneously higher resolution. Treble had less air but a little more detail and bite around lower-treble. The Hiby’s higher output impedance didn’t hugely affect the Lyra Collection’s signature beyond the actual player’s signature.

Echobox Explorer: The Echobox is a vivid, U-shaped source with great driving power, this was also a nice pairing. The Explorer delivered increased bass impact and larger notes, with smooth but slightly recessed mids. It produced a more aggressive lower-treble presentation before a progressive decline into a neutral middle treble and slightly smoothed off upper-treble. As such, it has high attack and air but a dark background. However, it also missed out on some smaller background and micro details.

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and full-time student, Ryan's audio origins and enduring interests lie within all aspects of portable audio. An ongoing desire to bring quality audio to the regular reader underpins his reviewer ethos as he seeks to bring a new perspective on the cutting edge and budget dredge alike.

4 Comments

  1. David on

    Hi Ryan.
    I was wondering why you’d test them with the HTC U11 when the HTC10 is known to be much better.
    Also, will you be testing the new Sennheiser IE80s in the future?

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hi David,

      My 10 was much-loved but I gave it to my father when his phone broke so it was unavailable during testing. I’m hoping LG or Sony release something nice this year but it isn’t looking too hopeful.

      Deezel and I will be reviewing the new IE800S, there are no plans to review the IE80S at present, my apologies.

  2. Some Guy on

    wait im confused, the phone shown in the photos is a HTC 10, or is it that you did use a U11 as stated for testing, but just not pictured?

    • Ryan Soo on

      That is the 10 pictured as I switched over to the U11 between photographing and writing the review. Apologies if that made things confusing!

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