Audio Technica’s AT2020 Cardioid Microphone Is a Great Way to Begin Recording Sessions

The Audio Technica’s AT2020 USB Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone was the first microphone I attempted to use to record my weekly podcast, and I have to say, even at the affordable price of $149.00 it’s been one of the better microphones I’ve used to date.

I scoured Reddit, and microphone forums for days on days looking for a suitable microphone that would allow me to project my voice in tandem with GarageBand and Zoom.us (the platform my co-host and I use to record our show) that would not sound muffled or in all honesty, cheap. The AT2020 checks all positive boxes in that regard.

Upon unboxing, you get a pretty simple setup with your AT2020, including a threaded stand mount for 5/8-27 stands, a threaded adapter, a soft protective pouch, and the microphone itself.

Here are some other specs on the Audio Technica AT2020:

  • Microphone Technology: condenser
  • Sensitivity: -37 dB
  • Impedance: 100 Ohm
  • Microphone Power Source Voltage (DC): 48 V
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio: 74 dB
  • Noise Level: 20 dB
  • Dynamic Range: 124 dB
  • Max Sound Pressure: 144 dB
  • Audio Input Details: Cardioid – 20 – 20000 Hz

CONNECTIONS

  • Connector Type: Microphone (XLR)

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Color Category: black
  • Included Accessories: microphone stand, microphone stand adapter, protective pouch

DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT

  • Width: 2 in
  • Depth: 2 in
  • Height: 6.4 in
  • Weight: 12.17 oz

Audio Technica prides themselves on the AT2020’s sound isolation, so much so that you can honestly use the microphone without a wind cover and you’ll barely hear any ambient noise thanks to the Cardioid polar pattern picking up just what’s in front of it. In doing this, the AT2020 eliminates the side and back noises as best it can. I found myself recording output audio about eight inches away from the microphone for the clearest sound while recording. To the microphone’s detriment, however, it has a slight issue distinguishing further than that, so if you are a podcaster or musician, you may end up finding yourself up closer to the mic than you need to be in order to be understood in playback. Luckily there’s a solution to this with an external microphone stand that you could purchase from Amazon for less than $25 from any third-party vendor.

The AT2020 microphone is versatile in many ways, thanks to its included headphone port which sits opposite of the volume rocker in the middle of the microphone. I’ll admit if you have the phone sitting in a mic stand instead of the smaller dock that comes in the box, the controls are hard to actually monitor or change. This was a huge hindrance for me when attempting to record audio from my computer and monitoring the audio without latency the first time I tried. After a few tries, I learned that it’s best to leave the volume around 60-70% from the mic’s physical buttons, especially if you plan on picking up audio from your laptop or mixer without it sounding choppy.

Where the microphone falls flat, however, is in response. Since testing the AT2020, I’ve tested three other microphones that cost upwards of $50-100 more, and I can attest that the AT2020 finds it hard to navigate hearing the audio in your headphones sometimes. The mic picks up everything in front of it (as most USB microphones do), including keystrokes from your desk if you have the microphone sitting on it. And since there are no laptop apps or settings you can change on a mac, other than a MIDI setup, the proximity effect makes it so you hear everything that’s placed in front of the mic, from you putting a glass of water down, to you tapping your feet on the floor beneath it. As of right now, I haven’t found a change for this, but I will update when I find one.

While many musicians and podcasters will tell you NEVER to use a USB microphone (their reasons may vary), if all you have to record with is your laptop and your microphone, the Audio Technica is a great start to getting things in order. You’ll eventually need items such as a mixer, or even a better microphone. However, the AT2020 for me was the best possible start when it came to USB microphones, and I can recommend it at one of the top three best microphones under $150, even over the Snowball.

For more information about the $149 Audio Technica AT2020, click here. 

Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit

What I Like: Cardioid mic filters airflow well

What Needs Improvement: Volume control/headphone jack should be moved to accommodate stands


About the Author

Greg Alston
Diehard Apple fanboy, and lover of all things tech. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Greg enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, family and friends, live sporting events, good bourbon, Tetris, and pizza. In that order.