Audio Technica AT2020 is one of the best budget microphones today! The mic is suitable for a wide range of genres and delivers a smooth and well-balanced sound. The mic is ideal for streaming or home studio recordings!
- Best mic for low budget
- Solid and durable build
- Great for vocals
- Noise level above average
- No switch for filters
In our Audio Technica AT 2020 review we will take a look at why this vocal microphone has been so widely popular since its release in 2020. Audio-Technica are usually a good choice if you are looking for solid studio equipment on a budget. We are going to take a deep dive into their popular microphone AT2020 and see how well it stands against more expensive microphones.
Also don’t miss our detailed comparison AT2020 vs AT2035.
“No wonder this microphone was used to record Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish. It is such a steal”
Our Audio Technica AT2020 review includes:
- Who should buy the Audio Technica AT2020?
- Things you should consider before buying
- Product overview
- AT2020 XLR vs AT2020 USB
- Should you buy the AT2020?
Who should buy the AT2020?
Affordable and quality are two words that many audio companies use when they market their products. More than often it’s used without a lot of care and you end up sacrificing quality when your budget is too low. For this AT2020 review I tested the mic in my home studio for about a week. After a couple of hours of recording I can honestly say that this microphone lay claim to both quality and affordability. The Audio Technica AT2020 is a perfect choice for:
- Home producers
Things to consider before buying
Audio Technica AT2020 is a full cardioid condenser microphone so it requires 48 volt of Phantom Power to work. In other words, you will need a standalone audio interface or mic preamp to start recording. It’s one of the best budget microphones on the market and a strong competitor to more premium microphones. With that being said, if you are producing or podcasting from a controlled studio environment you will probably get better sound quality from a more high-end microphone like Shure SM7B. If you are on a tight budget or a beginner in the beautiful world of recording, the AT2020 is your best choice!
There are some things you need to buy separately if you are plan on getting this microphone:
- Audio Interface or Mixer with +48V Phantom Power
- Microphone stand
- Audio Technica AT2020
- Microphone mount
- Microphone stand adapter
- Padded pouch for storage
- Official documentations
In our Audio Technica 2020 review we were amazed by the quality of the mic. It feels great and the microphone diaphragm is surrounded and protected in an all metal body. It just feels durable and sturdy without any cheap plastic on the construction. The microphone mount is also built on metal and it really is built to last and keep the microphone in the desired position. The metal grille has a great durability and protects the sensitive parts effectively. The grille itself has a protective framework on top which keeps it safe from accidental knocks.
The cardioid pick-up pattern makes the AT2020 perfect for podcasting, streaming or music production. Cardioid microphones are most sensitive directly in front of them which is great for rejecting off-axis sound sources and preventing them from getting into the recordings. This is ideal if you only want to record your own voice and get a clean recording without any background noise from your computer.
Our recordings from the AT2020 are crisp, clear, well-tuned and realistic. Many condenser microphones can be overly sensitive but the AT2020 can withstand high sound pressure levels up to 144 dB and still handle the dynamics like a pro. The microphone displays a warmth in the lower mid-range and combines this with a presence peak that adds air. AT2020 doesn’t hype the character or color the sound which makes it compatible with a wide range of vocalists.
If you are talking directly into the microphone you are going to need a pop-filter to combat plosive sounds.
During our AT2020 review we noticed that the noise level is slightly above average when distant miking. That won’t be a problem if you are recording an inch from the microphone or recording loud sources.
AT2020 frequency response
The Audio Technica AT2020 has a frequency response between 20Hz-20kHz which is a standard when recording vocals. Although I would say it’s primarily a microphone for capturing voice it could be used to capture instruments as well. Thanks to the great SPL handling it can be mounted in front of a guitar amp without causing any damage to the diaphragm.
Features and benefits
The Audio Technica AT2020 is packed with impressive features:
- Very affordable!
- Durable build with reinforced grille
- Can handle high sound pressure levels (SPL)
- Good diaphragm sensitivity
- Can be used on both vocals and instruments
|ELEMENT||Fixed-charge back plate permanently polarized condenser|
|FREQUENCY RESPONSE||20-20,000 Hz|
|OPEN CIRCUIT SENSITIVITY||–37 dB (14.1 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa*|
|MAXIMUM INPUT SOUND LEVEL||144 db SPL, 1 kHZ at 1% T.H.D|
|NOISE||20 dB SPL|
AT2020 USB vs XLR
In this Audio Technica AT2020 review we have been talking about the XLR version of the mic. However, If you have been doing your research correctly you would know that there is a USB model as well. So which one should you go for? Well, it depends on your needs!
Both microphones are identical in both sound quality and construction.
As previously mentioned in this article, the XLR version of the AT2020 requires an Audio Interface or Mixer with phantom power to work. Even if the microphones are identical there are some differences in sound quality due to cables. Every electronic device in your recording chain has a noise floor that contributes to the overall hiss of your audio. XLR cables are designed in a way to filter out unwanted noises from other electronic devices, giving you a cleaner recording than USB microphones.
The USB version of the AT2020 are plug and play. All you have to do is plug the microphone into your computer and start recording. In other words, the AT2020 USB doesn’t require additional equipment to be used (even the phantom power will be supplied over the USB cable). This easy setup is ideal for streamers, youtubers or voice-overs. If you are a home studio producer you probably use other recording equipment that you want to connect with your mic. A big downside with USB-connectivity is that you only can record one track at a time.
If you are a music producer I would recommend the AT2020 XLR due to it’s versatility. If you only need to record one track at the time and you don’t think you’ll never need to upgrade, go for the USB-version.
AT2020 USB is more expensive than the AT2020 XLR.
Audio Technica’s AT2020 is a widely popular cardioid condenser mic. As of right now, 5,308 reviewers on Amazon give the microphone 4.7 out of 5 stars:
In this review we covered everything you need to know about the Audio Technica AT2020. Obviously there are more “budget” condenser microphones to choose from. Here are some alternatives to the AT2020:
- Blue Microphones Yeti (podcasting/streaming)
- Rode NT1
- Audio Technica AT2035
Should you buy the AT2020?
Yes! The AT2020 is a microphone with unbeatable value in its price range. It’s a sensible microphone that gives you a well-tuned and realistic recording. It’s safe to say that you won’t find a better microphone if you are on a tight budget. It’s very versatile and suitable for a wide range of genres, including podcasting and streaming. If you can spend a little more and are looking for high-end microphones I recommend the Shure SM7B (Editor’s Choice).