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AKG P120 vs. Audio-Technica AT2020: A side-by-side comparison

In this article, I’ll be pitting two extremely cost-effective microphones against one another: the AKG P120 and Audio-Technica’s AT2020. Both are comfortably priced at around $100, offering an affordable entry point for budding musicians, podcasters, and content creators alike.

Let’s dive in and see how they compare against each other.

AKG P120 and Audio-Technica AT2020 microphones
P120 and AT2020 microphones | Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict: AKG P120 wins by a hair

Even though both of these microphones offer impressive value for their price range, the P120 offers a marginally higher performance in both its versatility and build quality. However, the AT2020 can hold its own in specific applications like studio vocals and guitar cabinets.

Why you should trust me

I’ve worked with a diverse spectrum of gear over my decade spent in the field of audio production and engineering, both in the studio environments and on live productions.

Brandon Schock, author and contributor at Higher Hz

Working with names such as Shure, AKG, Neumann, and Sennheiser, among many others, has lent me nuanced insights into the practical application of audio equipment, and what value it provides users ranging from novice to seasoned professionals.

Polar pattern and frequency response: AKG P120 wins

Both the Audio-Technica AT2020 and AKG P120 are cardioid condenser microphones with frequency responses of 20 Hz – 20 kHz.

However, the AKG offers a maximum SPL of 150 dB (compared to the AT2020’s 144 dB) and also operates slightly quieter with a self-noise level of 19 dB (in contrast to the AT2020’s self-noise of 20 dB).

The AKG P120 offers a nominally better performance.

Vocals: AT2020 wins

In terms of studio vocals, the performances of these two microphones are somewhat comparable. Both deliver warm, slightly compressed vocals.

However, the AT2020’s frequency response is moderately more neutral. Also, the P120’s presence peak around 15 kHz is a bit harsher in practice than the AT2020’s ragged-looking 10 kHz bump.

Neither are ideal candidates for live applications due to their design and sensitivity.

AKG P120 microphone
AKG P120 microphone | Image: Higher Hz

Podcasting: It’s a draw

While the AT2020 is a clear winner for studio vocals, both microphones offer exceptional clarity and warmth suitable for podcasting. I’d suggest shooting them out side by side to see if you find one is more complementary to your voice than the other.

AT2020 microphone
AT2020 microphone | Image: Higher Hz

Guitar amps: AT2020 wins

The AT2020, with its depth and rather warm mid-range, is more well-suited for capturing electric guitars than the P120. The P120 does offer more bottom-end, although it is rather turbid and indistinct.

Bass amps: AKG P120 wins

Neither of these are great for bass cabinets, but if you must choose one, I suppose that the P120 would perhaps make a better candidate. The mic’s more prominent low-end, however messy, could probably work in a pinch with some careful positioning.

Otherwise, either microphone can fare fine when used in conjunction with a more dedicated microphone with cleaner lows and lower mids.

Acoustic guitars: It’s a draw

Neither are going to deliver a fantastic tone in this regard, both lacking the higher-register sparkle and low-midrange definition necessary for a “proper” acoustic guitar tone. Positioning will also prove important here, to avoid any unwanted harshness or muddiness, conversely.

Drums: It’s a draw

It should be mentioned that drums are neither of these microphone’s strong suits. However, due to their relatively high SPL’s, either could work in a pinch.

While I can’t recommend either for a dedicated kick mic, both mics could work on snares, as knee mics, overheads, or room mics. Depending on your room and kit, it might take some fine-tuning in terms of positioning.

AKG P120 microphone with stand mount
Image: Higher Hz

Build quality: AKG P120 wins

The AKG P120 is slightly more durable than the AT2020, thanks to its all-metal construction. Although both microphones can certainly handle a fair amount of abuse. Worse comes to worst, you could easily buy another if they break.

AT2020 microphone with a stand mount
Image: Higher Hz

Conclusions and alternatives

The AKG P120 just barely beats out the Audio-Technica AT2020 in terms of its versatility and build quality. However, more folks are partial to the AT2020 on the whole, I myself included.

That might be confusing to some, but the overall message here is to trust your ears and taste rather than specifications or ratings.

Thankfully, both of these microphones are cheap enough to buy, test, and return without much hassle. Even better, you can find both of them used and try to spend the same amount of money for one of them for new.

Here are a few other microphones to compare against both the AT2020 and AKG P120.

P120/AT2020 vs MXL 990

Generally speaking, the MXL 990 is a better performing condenser than either the AT2020 and the P120. The downside, of course, is that the MXL has a rather short shelf-life.

MXL 990 microphone
Image: Higher Hz

I had run through many of them before I began taking the time to learn how to mod and fix microphones myself. They tend to run for about $40 used.

Read my full MXL 990 review

P120/AT2020 vs Lewitt LCT 240 Pro

The Lewitt offers a slightly better performance than both the AT2020 and P120. It’s a bit smoother and a bit more versatile on the whole.

Lewitt LCT 240 Pro microphone
Image: Higher Hz

That being said, I’d always suggest trying to do a side-by-side comparison for yourself before choosing.

Read my full Lewitt LCT 240 Pro review

P120/AT2020 vs Blue Yeti

While the Blue Yeti is a quite popular choice for entry-level USB microphones, it’s not really good at anything. Offering more in its description than its performance, I can’t recommend the Blue Yeti for anybody.

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