Buying a home studio mic is nothing short of an adventure. Let’s face it, the last thing you want is to waste money on something that won’t last. In all my years of home recording, my buddies and I’ve worked and experimented with all kinds of microphones. It’s safe to say that not all of our purchases landed us in hot waters, but for the rest, we surely wish someone was there to have advised us against the purchase.
But when it comes to the Audio Technica AT2020, we honestly didn’t have much to complain about. This is a decent, single cardioid pattern condenser microphone that you would be lucky to get your hands on. The professional quality mic offers price that’s not too steep and delivers everything that it promises. However, we’ll be straight up honest with you folks: this mic isn’t meant for casual hobbyists that aren’t willing to put in the effort to achieve crystal clear sound.
Hence, it’s safe to say that this isn’t your typical plug-and-play mic – in fact, it’s much more than that.
Features of the Audio Technica AT2020
Before we dive into the absolute details of the Audio Technica At2020, I’d like to talk you through the features of this mic. Here are some notable features of the At2020:
- Studio condenser microphone: This is a high-quality studio condenser microphone that is available at an affordable price.
- High SPL: Thanks to the high SPL, the mic does a decent job in recording vocals and instruments. This makes it ideal for home-recording enthusiasts.
- Low-mass diaphragm: With its low mass diaphragm, you can expect an ultra-transient response and extended frequency response.
- Low self-noise: This eliminates extra noise, making it a prime choice for recording digital equipment.
- Includes stand mount: Your purchase includes a pivoting stand mount which can be securely attached to the microphone. This also ensures precise placement.
- Operates on +48V phantom power: The AT2020 operates on +48V phantom power which you will have to arrange separately.
Here are some other features that my band and I are fond of:
Cardioid Pickup Pattern
If you have set up a home recording studio at home and are determined to achieve great sound output, the AT2020 will not disappoint. We were quite impressed by how this mic is able to offer exceptional off-axis rejection. Plus, because of its cardioid pickup pattern function, you’re able to record vocals whilst isolating your performance. This prevents the mic from picking up additional noise from your surroundings resulting in better, crisper sound. It also makes the mic easier to work with since you don’t have to worry too much about sound reflections.
So, if you’re in search of a mic that isolates background noise, the AT2020 will surely not disappoint. If you want to learn about other polar patterns, check out our detailed guide on the best microphones for singing.
Based on our experience, we’ve found that this baby works great for recording vocals, but you can also try your luck with different instruments.
High SPL Handling
For starters, this particular model offers superior SPL handling, a maximum of 144dBSPL. This makes the mic incredibly versatile. I, myself have used it for recording loud instruments and found the sound to be quite crisp and clear. So go ahead and bring out the crashing drums and intense vocals – this mic can handle it all.
And of course, it does a pretty decent job in recording vocals. I have personally used it for some of our over-the-top recording sessions, and I don’t have any complaints, so far.
When I was on my hunt for a good all-around studio condenser, I was very particular about the mic sounding good sonically. Fortunately, the AT2020 does not disappoint. However, it is quite different from other cardioid condenser mics since it has a black-electret capsule. In many ways, its features allows it to stand out, practically making it a professional-grade mic. Most distinctively, it includes a thin 16mm-back-electret capsule that offers better response.
One might assume that a smaller capsule automatically results in less warm, but that is not the case. I was also quite pleased that this model offers excellent bass extension, at least, it proved to my liking and did not disappoint. I do recommend that you experiment with a variety of products – just so that you can ensure what really works best for you.
I would also like to add that it is a common misconception that back-electret capsule mics do not sound well, this is obviously a mistake. The AT2020 sounds considerably better than most of the 1-inch diameter mics I’ve used (and I’ve used A LOT of microphones in my lifetime). My advice to you, don’t underestimate this mic based on its price. If used appropriately, it offers crisp and airy sound.
Another notable feature of this budget-friendly mic is that it is incredibly sturdy and includes black speckles. This adds a nice finishing to the final product that I’m sure, many recording enthusiasts will appreciate. For its incredibly affordable price, I’d say that the mic offers just the right amount of durability.
I’ve had this microphone for a couple of years, and I’ve been pretty impressed by its performance and sturdy form.
How Does it Sound
Now, let us talk about what’s really important: the sound quality. The mid-range warmth offered by the AT2020 is something worth raving around. Although, it might take some effort to find the ‘sweet spot’ of this microphone. I personally found the sound very well-balanced, better than most budget-friendly microphones that I’ve worked with.
I would recommend you use the mic for recording acoustics or for vocals. Either way, we’re sure you’ll be able to achieve superior results just as long as you set your mind to it. Also, based on our personal experience, I’d recommend you only use the microphone for recording things that aren’t placed too far away. For instance, a meter or two should be good.
Your purchase should come with a few accessories but you’ll have to buy the cables and shock mount separately. In our experience, using the mic with a shock mount provides better balance, allowing you to achieve better quality without the sound being too muffled. Also, you’ll have to arrange a phantom power supply so that can also add to minor inconvenience.
Pros of the Audio Technica AT2020
I’ll be honest: there are a number of things that I liked about this mic. I wouldn’t say that it’s absolutely the best microphone that I’ve worked with all these years but it still does a pretty decent job. To throw some light on the subject, here are some major pros of this microphone:
In my experience of using this microphone, my band and I discovered that it produces warm sound without bursting your eardrums. We particularly liked how there was no harshness hence we do not have any complaints here.
I will also add that this makes the mic a good all-rounder. One of our female band-members tested it out and she sounded great too. Recording acoustic instruments also becomes a breeze with this mic, making it incredibly versatile.
Don’t you just love products that perform exceptionally well and can be used for multiple purposes? We really liked how versatile this model really is. Because of its high SPL handling, it does a pretty good job at recording vocals but can also be used for recording a variety of instruments. We have personally used this mic for some of our low-projects and we were pleasantly surprised by the results.
Try using it for acoustic sound and you’ll understand what we mean. We highly recommend this product for folks who are in search of a no-frills, simple and flat reproduction.
I am personally a fan of gears that not only perform well but look great too. The AT2020 offers a stunning design which means using it for recording sessions should be twice as fun. Despite its affordable price, the mic offers a sturdy build and doesn’t feel cheap at all. And that’s probably the reason why this product has quickly become popular among content creators, podcasters and other studio recording professionals.
It also includes a black-electret capsule which further contributes to the functionality and appearance of the mic. The whole thing weighs about 12.1oz which means it’s pretty solid on its own. You’ll also find that the cast metal is sturdy and quite thick, unlike other microphones that are available at a similar price range. The rugged construction and black speckles on the mic allows it to stand out from other competitors. However, if you’re on the lookout for something slightly more extravagant, perhaps you’d like to get your hands on the sE X1 S (check out our detailed review here).
They say you get what you pay for, but there are quite a few exceptions in the market (if you’re willing to dig deep enough). AT2020 proves to be a spectacular mic despite its low price tag. While there are a few minor inconveniences that you may have to experience – it doesn’t come with any additional cables and does not operate like your standard USB microphone.
Overall, my mates and I were pretty ecstatic about our purchase. We didn’t have too much trouble setting about the microphone (since we’ve been in this business for quite some time) hence, we weren’t bothered by such things. But if setting up tuning your surroundings seems like a hassle to you, you might want to start off with a standard USB mic. That is usually the best options for beginners because of its simple plug-and-play feature. This might also suit you better if you’re an absolute beginner and don’t want to wrap your head around the complicated stuff just yet.
I can say this with sheer honesty, almost without doubt – the sound quality of this microphone is pretty impressive. In fact, it performs better than some pretty expensive gear in the market. Based on my experience, the off-axis characteristics is worth raving about. The product also does a pretty decent job at rejecting external sounds; this further makes the AT2020 a very versatile product that’s fun to work with.
As far as the overall performance of the mic is concerned, I’m pretty sure that you won’t be disappointed.
Reduces Unwanted Reflections
The fixed cardioid polar pattern of the mic does an impressively good job at isolating performance. Furthermore, we’ve also found that the At2020 also reduces unwanted reflections. For those of you who are still learning about the basics of sound recording, this means that the microphone only picks up noise from the front.
This eliminates external noises that may find its way into your room such as noisy neighbors or traffic noise. All these features makes this mic an excellent buy for beginners who are recording in the same room as their computers. Of course, you are likely to experience better results if you tune the environment and take care of optimal mic placement.
Check out our comprehensive guide on how to reduce echo in a room. Once you have taken appropriate measures, you’ll be able to achieve a crisp sound with minimal effort.
I have to say, I was pretty impressed with this microphone. Aside from the mic, you will also receive a small leather pouch along with a stand adapter. Yes, you won’t be getting any cables with this which means you’ll have to figure out those things beforehand. At most, this may delay podcasting and streaming for a day or two until you have the right equipment but despite this minor inconvenience, we thoroughly recommend the AT2020.
Plus, the lack of accessories perfectly explains the affordability of this mic. Yes, it is a tad bit complicated to use compared to your typical USB mic but you can definitely expect better results.
So, what are some of your favorite budget-friendly microphones? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Further reading: 10 best laptops for music production.