Excellent build quality, Two premium cables included, Highly natural midrange, Well-extended treble for an earbud, Excellent soundstage width and layering
Diffuse centre imaging, Bass extension isn’t the best, Sharp pattern on face can tear foam covers
The Lyra Nature LE is the new go-to option for earbud enthusiasts wanting the most accurate midrange reproduction and layered soundstage.
Astrotec are one of the longest standing Chinese audio manufacturer who helped pave the way for the modern ChiFi market. While they’ve expanded their line-up as of late, the company’s strengths remain in the high-end, premium sector. In particular, Astrotec are known for their modern designs and gorgeous metalwork. Their Lyra earbud series exemplifies all of these traits with premium metal shells, a focus on quality cable pairings and a natural, spacious sound. Their Lyra Nature was one of my favourite earbuds releases for its inviting and even midrange tuning, and the company are expanding upon this with the new Lyra Nature Limited Edition. It features a bolstered 150 Ohm driver, revised copper die-cast labyrinth filter and two upgrade cables that give the user the choice between single-ended and balanced connectivity. Topping it off is a striking racing green colour scheme befitting of a limited edition release.
The Lyra Nature Limited Edition retails for $399 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit on Astrotec’s website here.
I would like to thank Ryan from Astrotec very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Lyra Nature LE for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earbuds free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Driver: 15mm Dynamic Driver
- Impedance: 150 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 108 dB
- Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 40 kHz
Behind the Design –
Copper Die-Casting Labyrinth Filter
A long-standing innovation of the Lyra line-up, the LE too sports this feature. In essence, Astrotec are using an irregular copper matrix in the tail cavity of the driver chamber. The irregularity of its shape suppresses reflections and resonances leading to a cleaner, lower-distortion sound reproduction. It does so while allowing air to pass through to balance the front and rear pressure of the driver diaphragm and optimise its impulse response.
The Lyra Nature LE uses a 15mm dynamic driver similar to the vanilla Lyra Nature, but now sports a 150-ohm impedance rather than 32-ohms. In turn, the company suggest a dedicated source as the LE requires much more power. Similar to what we observed on the Lyra Collection models, without the constraint of easy driving, the company are able to use a lighter voice coil with more turns. This raises the impedance but works to the benefit of greater driver control and a faster transient response for a more detailed and defined sound.
The Nature LE comes with two cables, an SPC OFC cable with regular 3.5mm termination and an 8-strand, 128-core 6N OCC cable with 4.4mm balanced termination. Both cables are braided with a great feel and sport quality metal connectors. Pre-moulded ear guides aid fit stability given the lack of seal on the earbud form factor.
The buyer receives the same premium Astrotec unboxing we’ve seen on their past products. A clean grey outer sleeve is embossed with the brand and model, sliding off to reveal a magnetic grey hard box. Opening up the box reveals the earphone nestled within a foam inlet with the grey leather carrying case below. The case is excellent, with a magnetic lid, soft interior and solid structure that makes it very protective and non-scratch. The case contains the balanced cable and a separate box contains the earbud covers in addition to the single-ended cable. Astrotec include 2 pairs of donut foam covers, 2 silicone covers with stabiliser fins and a pair of silicone ear guides. Of note, the foam covers are a very light open-pore foam. I found them to offer the best sound pairing with the Nature LE but were also very easy to rip so take care when installing these. In addition is a cleaning tool and mesh pull-tie case which provides separate compartments for each earbud to prevent scratches.
In terms of earbud design, Astrotec are dominating the premium high-end segment with their Lyra models. Their all-metal shells and removable cables make the Lyra earbuds easily the most refined and well-built earbuds on the market. The Nature LE represents another step forwards, with tighter tolerances and a dashing new racing green/gold colour scheme. I did think it looked a bit loud in images online, but its an undoubtedly handsome combination in person. I noted more homogenous gaps between the green housing and gold rings as well compared to the regular Nature. In addition, it has a revised rear filter with coarser grain but less perimeter gap than before. It has the same dimensions as past Lyra earbuds, making it a little more compact than most that sport the VE-style shells, but a little larger than Yuin-style shells. As before, the front face is comfortable even without covers due to the rubber ring that also helps to keep foam covers attached even when they get looser over time.
The front grill is also metal and has a laser-cut star pattern. I find the sharp edges of the stars to be a little grabby, not a concern for wearing comfort, but foam covers do tend to get stuck and can tear on the edges. Up top are removable cables using the widely adopted MMCX connector. The stock cables are excellent, the 4-wire SPC cable is lightweight with a square 4-wire braid while the 8-core balanced cable has a more robust 8-wire braid and similar wire gauge. Both have supple with minimal memory, springiness or microphonic noise transmission. They have well-shaped earguides that aid fit stability and quality metal connectors that complement the shells of the earbuds themselves. Besides the slightly grabby front mesh, the Lyra Nature LE leaves nothing to be wanted from a build and design POV, a beautiful premium design through and through with two premium cable options.
Fit & Comfort –
With their slightly smaller diameter and long, albeit slender housings, the Lyra Nature achieves an especially comfortable fit and should be suitable for those with smaller ears too. Of course, these are earbuds, which means essentially zero seal but also zero wearing pressure – and this is why they have a very passionate cult following despite being far, far more difficult to tune than in-ears. The nature of their fit also means the sound will vary greatly between listeners, both due to the level of articular fit with the outer ear altering bass perception, and because of individual ear canal anatomy which can affect treble reproduction – issues IEMs suffer from to a far lesser degree.
Foam covers can aid fit and seal for those with larger ears and offer customisation of the sound to user preference. The over-ear fit here is a great decision as there is no seal or retentive features to aid stability. While you can’t exactly exercise with them, the Lyra Nature stays put nicely relative to other earbuds. The smaller housings do mean the seal isn’t as strong without covers as competitors like the Fiio EM5 but the over-ear fit more than redeems this in my experience. With no hotspots and zero wearing pressure, they are very easy to wear for extended periods of time and give the user spatial awareness similar to an open-back headphone. Accordingly, this also means they offer minimal isolation making them suitable only for listening in quiet environments.