RCA Lyra 2 Portable MP3 Player Review

Author: blake Fisher
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2002
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/rcalyra2/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

A number of larger sized MP3 players have been staking claim to various advantages depending on the price of the product and its make. A few players offer larger storage capacity, some offer fancy displays, some offer compact size and some offer versatility [i.e. Radio functionality, multiple formats for playback].

These varied advantages, combined with the unique designs offered by each MP3 player help to guide a consumer to their new purchase.

The Lyra MkII

RCA first launched its MP3 player in 2000 with the introduction of the Lyra, which offered 32 megabytes of storage a large 6-line LCD display and a variety of other options that sold many units for RCA.

In 2001, RCA thought that their old player was becoming dated and could use some improvements in order to stay competitive with the latest in MP3 technology.

Thus, the Lyra2 was born.

The Lyra2 made many new enhancements including the addition of a FM tuner, a newer external flash reader using a USB interface, a larger storage card and a similar but yet more practical design.

The player also comes bundled with the latest software, primarily Music Match Jukebox 6.0. The improved software is a step up from the previous Lyra’s Real Jukebox, which is also still included but tends to work less efficiently.

The player still reads off ID3 information including track names, artists and albums. A backlight is also available to read the display in low or no light conditions.

The player runs on two ‘AA’ batteries, which are labeled as lasting for 12 hours at full charge. The device measures at 4.75" H, 2.52" W, .98" D and uses a single compact flash slot [that includes a 64 megabyte card] with no built-in memory.

The goods - Sound Quality, Components, Competition and Software

This player is marketed as a higher end versatile MP3 player. The word ‘versatile’ is reflecting the thought that it is not large and bulky like the larger jukebox MP3 players and higher end in the sense that it is not as limited as the smaller MP3 players [like the RCA kazoo]. The player is very competitive with other similar devices such as the Creative Nomad II or Sonic Blue Rio line.

The player is bundled with the same headphones as the RCA [RD1000] Kazoo that wrap around the back of your head. Though the headphones are very comfortable and light, they just don’t cut enough volume flow into the ears. A lot of sound is lost through the ends of the earphones. The headphones have an adapter in between the main player and the earphones which can clip to the neck of your shirt, a pocket or a coat that allows you to flip through songs, play and stop music and change the volume without fishing out your player from your pocket.

The sound settings inside the player are also quite advanced allowing you to choose for the previous seen RCA DSP settings or the new equalizer settings [EQ], which can be customized to whatever the user may want.

The set comes complete with a car kit which plugs into a cassette adapter and lighter and an external USB compact flash drive for faster transfers that the previous Lyra which used a parallel port interface.

The process of uploading your songs is a relatively simple procedure with either the Music Match Jukebox or Real Jukebox software included with the player. Transfers are very fast and easy to edit. Unfortunately, the upload utility and firmware for the device has one flaw.

Bit rates for the MP3s uploaded onto the drive are capped off at 128kbps. Rather than allowing 192 kbps files, the software will automatically re-encode all of the files to a bit rate of 128 or lower.

Otherwise file transfers are flawless, quick and simple – a very essential commodity for those on the go.

Conclusions

RCA has definitely improved its Lyra series with the Lyra 2 expanding its technological boundaries with increased storage and a FM tuner, as well as improving sound and comfort capabilities.

However, it may not cut it as far as a modern device. The leaps and bounds made by RCA cannot stay competitive with the abundance of CD MP3 players and Jukebox players which can boast anywhere from 650 megabytes to 8 gigabytes on one player. The transfer speeds for the player are useful but the cost is just too outrageous in comparison with its competition. This is a tough market to sell in these days when one debates over smart disks or CDs but it all depends on a consumer’s preference. This device offers many of the attributes needed to stay around and sell, as well as fast speeds and easy to use software but a price tag upwards of $240-250 US may drag the player down.

Overall Score: 79%

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