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If you’re on the market for an affordable beginner mic that’s under or around USD $100, chances are you’re spoiled for choice. There are tons of affordable mics, many of them top quality, which is why when a good mic in an affordable price range stands out, it stands out. That mic is the Audio Technica AT2020, a cardioid condenser mic that’s become a favorite for home studios worldwide.
Audio-Technica is a Japanese company that was established in 1962 that manufactures audio equipment, most notably professional microphones and headsets. Their stringent quality standards set their microphones apart from the rest, and if you want to find out just what makes the AT 2020 so special then this review is for you.
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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.
20 dB SPL
DYNAMIC RANGE (Typical)
124 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL
The AT2020 mic has an affordable price that on its own is enough of a plus, but this mic’s benefits go far beyond that. As an Audio Technica Mic, you can be sure that the AT2020 packs a punch, and its performance is so good that it’s frequently ranked among the best condenser microphones on the market.
This cardioid condenser microphone has a low-mass diaphragm that was custom-engineered for extended frequency response— 20 Hz to 20,000 kHz, to be specific. Despite its small diaphragm, it offers plenty of bass extension, with a warm and solid sound that makes every recording a pleasure to listen to.
When pit in blind tests against other mics in the same price range, this Audio Technica microphone vastly outperforms its competitors. As a studio mic, it can fit in a variety of roles, from recording vocals to keeping acoustic instruments well-rounded. For vocals, the AT2020 provides depth and smooth highs without letting the upper ranges get too harsh. This versatility makes it an absolute winner in our book.
The AT2020 was designed for the studio market, and it certainly meets and sometimes even surpasses the standards. Its controlled top end allows it to perform well even when recording elements like cymbals or percussions, and provides a full sound with minimal fiddling.
Despite its affordable price, the AT2020 has a solid make, forgoing lightweight plastics for sturdy, well-formed metal casing. However, despite its durable materials, it’s fairly balanced and unobtrusive in a studio set up. It also comes packaged with a metal swivel mount and a leatherette travel pouch, making it easy to pack up and transport when needed.
Although it’s certainly on the cheaper end of microphones, the AT2020 is able to provide a mature, round sound that performs excellently with vocals and instruments. Its lower mid-range warmth is flattering for most types of voices, and offers clarity without sibilance or popping. The overall sonic picture is one of depth and clarity, and it also has a solid rear-axis rejection to avoid unwanted noise filtering in.
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is the ideal mic for both home and project studio use, and its versatility, durability, and sound make it the standard for many of the mics in the same price range. With a low self-noise that makes it ideal for digital recording, this is definitely a must-have for any home studio set up.
If you’re worried about getting your AT2020 up and running, never fear. The unit comes with a pivoting, threaded stand mount that attaches firmly and allows an easy and precise placement for the microphone. Simply clamp the stand securely to the table, adjust the boom arm to your desired angle, tighten the screws, and attach the mount and microphone to your stand.
In order to ensure that you’re getting the best possible sound quality out of your AT2020, you’ll need to optimize your set up. Make sure you have a shock mount for your unit, and if you want to avoid microphone pops then a pop filter might be helpful. Background noise reduction isn’t particularly complicated thanks to the uni-directional nature of the cardioid pickup pattern, but just in case make sure to keep fans and other noise-making equipment at a reasonable distance from the microphone.
The AT2020 is an Audio Technica condenser mic with USB connection, so setting it up with your computer is fairly easy. Simply connect the USB cord to your computer or laptop and navigate to your Sound and Audio Devices preferences menu. From there, your computer will be able to detect the new hardware, and once you set the AT2020 as your default recording device you’ll be all set.
For many users with a home computer set up, especially those who use their Audio Technica mics for streaming or other activities, reducing keyboard noise can be a particularly important consideration. In order to reduce the chances of your mic picking up on keyboard noise or tapping sounds, you can set it up with the provided mic stand several inches above your keyboard.
Every set up is different, and it may take a little bit of fiddling to get your AT2020 levels just right. If you feel that the gain on the unit is too high, simply open Properties for the hardware on your computer and adjust the levels. Depending on your OS, you’ll probably be able to turn down microphone sensitivity and hit just the right amount of sound pickup.
The Audio-Technica AT2020’s specs mean that this mic packs a punch for the price, and it’s a favorite for many home studios. While it can be a good fit for podcasting, its high sensitivity means that it can pick up unwanted sounds like keyboard clatter. However, its warm sound and cardioid setting make it perfect for musicians and singers looking for an affordable mic. Vocals on this microphone will sound clean and natural, and will be able to cut through the sound of most instruments. If you’re looking for the right mic for your home recording sessions, this could be it.
The AT2020 is among the best affordable mics on the market right now, and has a place of pride in any home studio’s set up. Thanks to its affordable price, durable make, and clean and clear sound, it’s become a favorite for podcasting and recording worldwide.
Audio-Technica’s AT2020 puts in a star performance no matter where it is. Despite its low price, it has the same standard of performance as the company’s more up-market mics, and often puts in better results compared to other microphones in the same price range. No matter how simple your home studio set up, with the AT2020 you are guaranteed a professional result each time. Find the best deals for the Audio-Technica AT2020 here.