Today, we’ll be reviewing Audio-Technica’s AT2020 medium-diaphragm condenser microphone. As far as budget options are concerned, this is one of the better choices you can make. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Our verdict on the AT2020
For all things considered, the AT2020 is a fantastic microphone. While there are better microphones in the world, at $100, the AT2020 delivers a performance well beyond its price.Check availability, prices, and deals: SweetwaterAmazon
Polar pattern and frequency response
The AT2020 features a fixed cardioid pattern, with no switches or filters available. It has a 20 Hz – 20 kHz bandwidth, and has a surprisingly rich sound. It has a narrow dip around 70 Hz and a slight presence boost in the high end in the 5 – 15 kHz range. It has a max SPL of 144 dB, so it’s well capable of handling louder sound sources such as drums and brass, with minimum distortion.
Weighing in at about 12 oz, the AT2020 is a fairly sturdy mic. It’s chunky, and a heavy wire mesh protects the capsule inside. Phantom power is required, and there are no battery replacements available.
The AT2020 is a fantastic choice for vocalists. While it may not cut through the mix as well as brighter microphones like a Shure or MXL 990, it provides depth and a silky high end that can be quite favorable for many singers.
Theoretically, this microphone could be used in live applications due to its high SPL level, although it wouldn’t be our first choice. It isn’t meant to be handheld, and although the mesh protecting the capsule is rather heavy, a pop filter is still more or less necessary. So can it be used live? Technically, yes, but there are far more practical options.
With proper gain staging and mic placement, the AT2020 can hold its own surprisingly well when recording drums. Its high max SPL level of 144 dB can make it a great choice as an overhead, tom mic, over hi-hats, etc. We might refrain from placing it inside of a kick drum, considering its roll-off around 20 Hz, but for $100, the AT2020 is respectably versatile.
The AT2020’s depth, and warm mid-range presence can make it quite useful for recording electric guitars. Some time should be allotted to finding proper positioning, but once you find your placement, this microphone does a great job.
This wouldn’t be our first choice to record bass guitar, or anything that has prominent frequencies under 100 Hz. However, it can perhaps be used to add another layer of character in conjunction with a more suitable microphone.
Again, placement is key here. After spending some time finding the best positioning for the AT2020, you can get some very usable acoustic guitar sounds out of this mic.
Compared to other condenser mics
Before you settle on the AT2020, here are a few suggestions of other microphones that might be a good alternative to consider. You can also check our recommendations for the best budget condenser mics under $100.
AT2020 vs. Audio-Technica AT2035
The AT2035 is the big brother of the AT2020. It has a slightly higher max SPL, but just about the same frequency response and character – albeit with a few additions. The AT2035 features a switchable 80 Hz roll-off switch as well as a 10 dB pad. If it’s worth it to you, the AT2035 could be a great option if you have the money, but they perform roughly the same.
AT2020 vs. Blue Yeti
While on paper, the Blue Yeti may seem like a great choice – keep in mind that it’s a budget microphone that offers a whole lot more than what one would expect. The result? A microphone that isn’t particularly good at anything. Paired with being strictly a USB microphone, latency will always be an inevitable issue. We choose the AT2020.
AT2020 vs. AKG P120
In our opinion, the AKG P120 simply isn’t worth it. Either get the AT2020 or opt for an AKG P220 or an MXL 990.
AT2020 vs. Hyperx Quadcast
The AT2020 is objectively the better sounding microphone. Far more detailed, and a wider polar pattern make it the better option for serious musicians. Although the Quadcast features some perks, such as an internal pop filter as well as multi-device and chat program compatibility. The Quadcast is directly towards Twitch streamers or Discord users, although the AT2020 can probably do a better job of this anyway.