The Astrotec Lyra Nature Limited Edition (Nature LE) is a 6th gen classic earbud born on a long-lasting legacy that began way back in 2012. The Nature LE has a large 15mm dynamic driver and currently retails for $399.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
2 cables included
Ergonomics could use a refresh/be improved
Pre-formed ear hooks force you to wear earbuds over-ear
Astrotec Lyra Nature Limited Edition
Driver unit: 15mm dynamic driver
Impedance: 150 Ohm
Frequency response: 15 Hz – 40,000 Hz
Packaging & Accessories
The Lyra Nature LE packaging looks familiar, closely resembling the standard Lyra Nature box. It has a light olive green coloured cardboard sleeve with a list of features and specifications on the back. The box proper is a textured grey and has a magnetically sealed front flap. Here’s what’s inside the box:
Those who are familiar with the previous models will recognize the classic Lyra body, albeit this time in a forest green colour with gold accents. The shells are all metal and once again have the defining copper ball die-casting on the rear of the housing which Astrotec calls the ‘Labyrinth Filter’. However, in this iteration, the size of the copper balls has been increased slightly.
Attached to the side of the rear housing are the MMCX connector sockets which have an L or R marking denoting left and right sides respectively. The dynamic driver enclosure has a series of vents on the rear side and is encircled by a plastic ring for improved comfort.
As with all the Lyra models, the Nature LE has a premium look and feel that immediately sets it apart from most generic earbuds.
In terms of comfort, the Nature LE is akin to most earbuds, so if you’ve ever tried an earbud before you should have some idea how these would fit in your ears. Having said that, I still find the conventional plastic earbud style a bit more comfortable.
Due to the pre-formed ear guides on both of the included cables, you’re forced to wear the Nature LE in an over-ear fashion. I would prefer to see cables without the heat-shrink tubing so consumers could choose either over-ear or cable-down wear. Using either (or indeed all of) the included foam covers, ear hooks or ear guides can improve the in-ear stability of the earbuds so you shouldn’t have any issues there.
As is the norm with earbuds, there isn’t really any noise isolation so that’s something to keep in mind. I don’t think it would be an issue except in extreme environments. Noise leak is significant too so you might not want to play your music too loud if you’re sitting close to others.
8-Wire OCC 4.4mm balanced cable
It’s not every day you’ll see a cable like this supplied with an earbud! This is a gorgeous cable, with its 8 neatly braided wires and highly polished metal components, it would look at home paired with any prestige IEM.
You can sense the thickness of the copper within by the weight and feel of the cable. It’s not the most supple or pliant cable but it doesn’t have any memory or kinks either. The pre-formed ear guides pretty much negate the need for the silicone guides and hooks that come in the box, as they already hold their shape quite firmly.
The MMCX connectors, Y-split, chin slider and straight 4.4mm termination are all matching polished aluminium and exude a premium feel. This is a very nice cable and I imagine it makes up a good chunk of the Nature LE’s premium price tag.
The unbalanced cable is also a high-quality inclusion and a definite step up from the cable that comes with the regular Lyra Nature. It’s lovely to look at with its shimmering silver interior and clear PU sheath. I’m a big fan of the shortened, colour-coded MMCX connector housings. They’re similar to the ones on the Astrotec Volans and iBasso SR2 cables.
The MMXC connector housings, Y-split and right-angled plug are all matching aluminium while the chin slider is a transparent plastic. In terms of handling, this cable is more supple and lightweight compared to the other balanced cable but still feels like a premium accessory.
Before we get into the sound details, let’s talk about the source requirements for the Lyra Nature LE. Remember this earbud has a 150 Ohm impedance so it does require a bit of juice to perform optimally. Using the single-ended output on my Soundaware M2Pro, I was able to drive it sufficiently on medium gain. But I found high gain was the sweet spot. With the balanced output, I found medium gain was just right.
Using the LE with foams makes the overall tonality slightly warmer and for some may offer a more secure fit. For my preference, I prefer to keep the LE naked for a crisper tone but the quality of the audio is evident both ways.
So how does this high-end earbud sound? I would describe the Astrotec Lyra Nature Limited Edition as similar to a good open-back headphone. The quality of the soundstage is immediately evident, the spaciousness is liberating and the overall tonality is balanced.
Compared with cheaper earbuds, the Nature LE demonstrates better instrument separation and more airiness. But perhaps the thing that impresses me most is its excellent timbre and accurate tone. The sound is engaging and musical yet uncoloured.
The Lyra Nature LE has a big 15mm dynamic driver, just like the original Nature. You might expect it to be a bass monster but in fact, the bass sits pretty much in line or just a hair behind the midrange. It shows all the hallmarks of a product that has seen incremental improvements across multiple iterations, such as speed, impact and texture.
The opening notes of the bass guitar on Lucid Planet’s “Apparatus” are brimming with texture on the Nature LE. When the drums kick in (no pun intended), the LE delivers with plenty of punch and impact without masking or diminishing the vocal performance. Later on, when the pace picks up, the LE holds everything together without losing its composure.
The midrange is a real treat on the LE. It has a fairly neutral tone that’s neither thin nor warm with just a mild tilt towards the upper mids for improved presence. Voices and instruments are presented with clarity and are positioned nicely relative to the bass and treble.
What surprises me about the LE’s mids is the note density and stability that I normally wouldn’t expect within such an open and spacious soundstage. There’s a solidity to vocals and instruments that makes them seem tangible and real. Transient speeds are very good and help to keep the sound clear and uncluttered.
Listening to Noorvik’s “Shishaldin”, I’m struck by the clarity of the guitars, precise placement of instruments, the size of the soundstage and the overall tone. The tonal balance is pleasing too with all of the frequency bands blending together cohesively.
The Nature LE has a delightful treble that’s clear, transparent and airy. It’s crisp with a touch of sparkle and has an openness that is superb, even for an open earbud. The treble abounds with air and extends off into the distance as if the stage was on an open, grassy plain.
Although the level of detail is fairly good, the LE aims for a smooth, spacious sound rather than exposing every micro-detail. As a result, there’s no sibilance or sharpness to the treble making the Nature LE great for extended and fatigue-free listening sessions.
If there’s one thing that nearly all earbuds do better than in-ears it’s soundstage and that’s certainly the case with the Nature LE. The soundscape is both wide and deep, with a neutral stage position that’s neither intimate nor distant but somewhere in between.
Instrument separation is good thanks to the driver’s speed and tonal balance. But it’s the note definition within the soundscape that really impresses with the Nature LE. Despite occupying such a large space, there’s no hint of diffusion or blurriness present, which is quite a feat.
Astrotec Lyra Nature ($169)
Not only does the Limited Edition have improved technical performance, it also comes with an additional high-quality balanced cable. The second single-ended cable is also superior to the stock cable that comes with the original Nature.
Compared to the original Lyra Nature, the LE has a tighter, faster bass and improved bass texture. Its midrange sounds cleaner and has better definition and instrument separation. Vocals are more articulate and the overall clarity is better on the LE giving it improved instrument separation.
The original Nature has a less sparkly treble, making the LE’s sound more airy and spacious. Imaging and layering are also improved on the Nature LE.
Simphonio Dragon 2+ ($319)
The Simphonio Dragon 2+ has a more conventional earbud design with plastic housings. It comes with a non-detachable 2.5mm balanced cable that is nice but doesn’t match the quality of the Nature LE’s balanced OCC cable.
Starting with the bass, the Dragon 2+ sounds thicker, warmer and lacks the definition of the Nature LE. The midrange notes are thicker and the air between instruments isn’t as black or clean compared to the LE. Vocals are slightly fuller and have more body on the Dragon 2+.
The Simphonio’s treble has a similar tone and level as the LE. But due to the extra thickness in the bass and midrange warmth, the Dragon 2+ has less clarity and a slightly smaller soundstage.
The Astrotec Lyra Nature Limited Edition continues the Lyra legacy and elevates it to a new level. It has the same excellent build quality as prior models and now comes with better quality cables and improved technical performance. It carries a hefty price tag but if you’re an earbud lover looking to go premium, you owe it to yourself to consider this one.