The first thing I thought when popping my shiny new Audio Technica AT2020 out of it’s box was ‘Wow, this doesn’t look like it cost under £100’.
Having said that, accessory wise it’s slim pickings: The microphone comes packaged with a soft vinyl zipped case and a basic threaded stand mount.
While not the most feature rich piece of kit in the world (you won’t find and frequency switches or volume dials here) the AT2020 has got it where it counts: sound quality and build quality.
That feeling that the microphone really over delivers on it’s modest price tag continues through set up and testing. You get a whole lot of microphone for your moolah here.
There’s a reason this microphone has become so popular among musicians, podcasters and especially YouTube creators in recent years. It simply sounds fantastic in pretty much every situation.
Here comes the science bit
The Audio Technica AT2020 is a fixed cardio pattern microphone. Which means it will pick up sound that’s in front of it (the front and back of the microphone is specified on the casing). Good news for home studio set ups, where external noise (computer fans, traffic noise or your upstairs neighbour’s tap dancing lessons, for example) can sometimes be picked up when recording.
The AT2020 also has an impressive frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz, so you’re not losing any low end frequencies in your recordings.
You’ll also need an interface that provides 48V phantom power run the AT2020. Luckily 99% of modern audio interfaces come with phantom power included.
How does it sound?
There’s a lovely mid range warmth to the AT2020’s sound that suits vocal recordings and acoustic instruments especially. I find it really easy to find the ‘sweet spot’ when miking up my acoustic guitar and found I could get a very balanced, ‘true’ sound, without the scratchy, jagged high end that some microphones produce.
One thing to note is that the Audio Technica AT2020 doesn’t perform as well at range as it does close up, so I wouldn’t recommend using it to record anything further than a meter or two away.
To give you an idea of how the AT2020 sounds in comparison to other microphones, heres an audio clip comparing my Macbook Pro’s in built microphone, a USB microphone (the Samson C01U) and the Audio Technica AT2020 (through the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface). When I mention the Scarlett 2i2, that’s the AT2020 you’re hearing.
For an even better idea of how the AT2020 sounds, check out this incredible cover of No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’ by YouTube musician Holly Henry. She recorded the track using the microphone in question.
There’s an almost overwhelming amount of choice for those looking to grab a new microphone for their home studio set up. Audio Technica have a great reputation for creating quality products at a reasonable price point and have done a good job of separating themselves from the rest with excellent pieces of kit like the AT2020.