In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been talking about the AT2020 a lot lately. I admit it, it’s a pretty great microphone, but is it the best? Not quite.

On the other hand, we have the AT4040. The name alone indicates that it’s two steps ahead of its predecessor and is a really great buy. In this blog post, I’ll be providing you a detailed comparison guide for the AT2020 vs. AT4040. The brand 40-series has been around for a couple of years now and has garnered quite a reputation. Truth be told, both products work fairly well, so it all boils down to your budget since the latter is a high-end product.

Anyway, you’ll have a better idea about which product to choose at the end of this guide so let’s get started right away:

Design

Let’s start by talking about design. If you’re one of those people who care far too much about aesthetics than the AT4040 definitely won’t disappoint. I can’t lie – it’s a stunning microphone with a large diaphragm that is designed to offer exceptional sound. It features a nickel-plated brass body that has a black finishing. The overall feel of the product is pretty solid so it doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap. The capsule is pretty solid, and I’d say it accounts for about 60% of the mic’s total body which is not too bad.

Check out my detailed AT2020 review.

It features a dual layer mesh grille surrounding the capsule. This large housing keeps away unwanted internal reflections, resulting in a clearer sound. The high SPL capability also makes the mic a versatile choice. You may use it for a variety of applications, even when recording the most problematic instruments.

Now, coming to the AT2020, at a glance both these mics look pretty similar and why shouldn’t it? The mic weighs a fair 12.1oz and feels pretty solid. The cast metal feels solid and chunky with tough wire protecting the capsule. It also features another layer of finer mesh that results in better recording. However, if I were you, I’d still buy an external pop shield.

I’m also a fan of the black speckles on this mic. It gives off a nice finishing, so while the AT2020 may be budget friendly, looks can be quite deceiving. Overall, for its price, the AT2020 doesn’t offer a bad bargain and the product is quite durable in terms of both looks and feel.

Winner in terms of design:

It’s a tie! There’s no other way to go about this. I’ve personally owned both microphones and they both have earned a good spot in my home studio!

While the AT4040 offers premium construction, you get pretty solid value for money with the AT2020. Both products may significantly differ in terms of price but they both seem to offer the best design. If you’re looking for an affordable product that isn’t an eyesore then the AT2020 is a premium choice. However, if you’re looking to take the high-end route, you already know which microphone to choose.

Features

Now let’s talk about the features in detail. With the AT4040, you’ll notice that the wider mesh reveals high-quality hardware underneath. As mentioned, the diaphragm is pretty large and has been tuned to attain perfection. It’s also worth noting that this model features a fixed cardioid pattern, as for the frequency range, you get to work with 20Hz to 20kHz.

Personally, this gives you plenty of leverage to use the microphone for recording vocals and a range of instruments. The mic comes equipped with an attenuation pad along with a low-pass filter. Overall, the AT4040 is packed with a good number of features. However, I will add that the product tends to be expensive but I believe you get reasonable value for money.

An added advantage is that the product is incredibly easy to set up so you won’t have to worry about complicated instructions. This is a great find for people looking for a mic that features XLR capability. It’s also worth mentioning that you get a shock mount, a carry case and a dust cover with your purchase.

Now, let’s jump right to the AT2020. Truth be told, this doesn’t function like your everyday plug and play USB microphone and comes with a few complexities. The quality is solid but there are not many features to rave about, in fact it gets worse since the package doesn’t include much. The mic is powered by an XLR cable and while that might sound fine, you don’t get the cable with your purchase. This can be a bit frustrating since you’ll have to rummage around for one or buy a new one separately. Either way, it’s an inconvenience worth highlighting.

So what’s in the box?

Only expect the bare essentials because that’s what you’ll be getting. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting any cables or accessories – just the mic and a small leather carrying case. But I wouldn’t complain too much since the low price tag makes up for it.

But yes, not having the right cables can be frustrating, especially if you’re a beginner and are not familiar with how things work. For starters, you’ll need an XLR cable along with 48v phantom power. If all this seems too complicated for you then you’ll probably be better off with another mic. Preferably something that offers plug and play compatibility and won’t require additional equipment to set up.

Winner in terms of features:

It’s pretty obvious that the AT4040 takes the lead here. Yes, it’s a little expensive than your everyday microphone but you don’t have to worry about setting up the product or buying extra gear. Plus, you get a whole bunch of accessories which is also a bonus.

Sound Quality

Now, let’s get down to what’s really important – sound. Before I begin, let’s acknowledge that one of these mics happen to be priced higher than the other so we’re not exactly dealing with equal contenders here.

Like always, let’s begin with the AT4040. There’s nothing this high-end mic can’t do. It offers crisp sound and overall quality is to die for. It’s perfect for people who have their home studios and want to get the best value for money. I’m also a huge fan of the polar response. You get everything you’d want in a large diaphragm mic. If I were being completely honest, the mic features what you would call a hypercardioid pattern. I’ve found that the polar pattern seems to open out at lower frequencies. This results in an omnidirectional pattern effect. While this feature is predictable, it can be a potential sound side for some folks.

However, you can easily tackle the situation by altering the angle of the mic to get your desired sound quality.

Now, coming to the AT2020 – now this may seem surprising but the mic actually sounds pretty good for its low budget. Users benefit from mature vocals and the instruments sound pretty good on the mic too. If you plan on using this mic for vocals then you can expect mid-range warmth. Overall, I’m a big fan of the quality of the sound. However, I wouldn’t recommend you use this mic for recording instruments that are placed far away. If the performance is loud, you can still expect satisfactory results.

I’ve used this microphone for recording acoustic guitar a couple of times and I must say, the overall sound is pretty well balanced.

Winner in terms of sound quality:

Both this mics have some minor flaws but if you’re looking for high-end sound, the AT4040 is definitely the way to go. It is recommended for professionals and does a pretty great job at what it’s designed to do.

Pros & Cons

Now that we’ve discussed these mics in detail, it’s time we have a look at their pros and cons. Let’s start with the AT4040 first:

Pros of AT4040:

  • 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response range
  • Excellent cardioid condenser mic
  • Large diaphragm
  • Picks up minimum noise
  • Nickel-plated brass
  • Includes shock mount
  • Includes a carry case

Cons:

  • XLR compatibility (though, this shouldn’t be a con if you’re making a switch)
  • Pricier than other condenser microphones in the market

Now, let’s have a look at the AT2020

Pros of AT2020:

  • Affordable condenser microphone
  • Reduces unwanted noise
  • High SPL handling
  • Attractive design
  • Includes a carry case
  • Overall sturdy design despite low budget

Cons:

  • Can be a hassle setting up
  • No accessories included in the package
Verdict

So there we have it. I hope this detailed guide will help you decide between the two. As for me, the AT4040 was the perfect upgrade from the AT2020. I instantly noticed how my voice sounded much clearer and natural. If you’re a pro and are OK with splurging then you should definitely consider investing in the AT4040.

Is there something you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below. Better yet, don’t forget to recommend some products for me to review. You might end up seeing your suggestion on my next post.

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