Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone Review

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid CondenserThe AT2020 cardioid condenser mic by Audio Technica is an affordable, versatile model. While this mic looks like a large diaphragm condenser. The back-electret capsule at 16 MM means that it’s actually a medium diaphragm mic. This condenser features a simple design with no filters or pads. Most musicians recommend picking up a shock mount considering the mic only comes with a threaded stand mount. This model has been produced for several years and continues to appeal to recording engineers and musicians on a budget.

Audio Technica has a reputation for good sounding microphones and solid engineering, and when trying to find a reliable condenser mic on a budget, this model tends to work well with a number of applications. It has also been built to the same standard as the manufacturer’s higher priced models and is known to offer subjective sound quality. In fact, for some applications, it offers better results than mics that cost twice the price, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that this model is one of Audio Technica’s top selling mics.

AT2020 Condenser Studio Quality Mic Overview and Features

You can expect a broad 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, which is typically something you’d find with a large diaphragm condenser. This model offers a fairly flat response, however, it does have a dip in the low end. The microphone offers a warm, fuller sound that provides the user with presence without harshness, making the mic suitable for acoustic instruments and both female and male vocals. When it comes to the proximity effect, most users describe it as minimal. This mic is a good choice if you’re concerned about vocals sounding too boomy. This model doesn’t have any sibilance issues either and is often used to record acoustic guitars or overhead drums. Priced affordably, the AT2020 tends to appeal to recording engineers and novice home studio users alike.

With a max SPL rating of 144DB, this model can handle most sources easily. It also offers a dynamic range of 124DB.

With a sturdy wire mesh cover over the capsule and a solid metal construction, the mic weighs in at just twelve ounces, making it compact and not overly heavy.

The mic also features an inbuilt headphone jack and USB output, with mix and volume control. The mic comes with a pivoting stand mount and small storage pouch.

The included extras and limited bit rate show that the mic is targeted at consumers who are interested in field recording, voice work, and even podcasting.

Audio Technica Condenser Microphone Pros and Cons

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio MicrophonePros: This model is Audio Technica’s entry level condenser and it’s a popular choice for home studio recording. Priced affordably, this mic provides decent sound quality. It’s also designed for a wide range of applications including acoustic instruments, voice work, and vocals. It features a no-frills simple design and offers reasonably flat, warm reproduction. The mic’s polar pattern is fixed cardioid, with no switches for filters or pads. Most engineers can agree that it’s a mistake to think that a smaller diaphragm equals less warmth of solid sound. This mic offers a ton of bass extension with only a slight dip in the center, making the mic very versatile. The design is chunky and quite thick, and the tough wire mesh works well to screen and protect the capsule. You’ll also find the mic encased in a second layer of mesh that’s much finer and works to reduce the popping. However, most pros still recommend using an external pop shield if you plan on recording vocals. The mic also features 14.1 MV/PA open circuit sensitivity, making it comparable to other studio quality vocal mics.

Even though the mic is priced pretty low, it still delivers a believable, mature sound for instruments and vocals. When used for vocals it will display a type of mid-range warmth that can flatter most vocals. It combines the vocals really well with a very subtle peak presence that adds clarity and air without too much harshness or sibilance. The mic will work well with a wide range of singers because it doesn’t hype the character of the original sound. When used with an acoustic guitar, the microphone will instantly give well-balanced sound. Most users were impressed with the mic’s depth of clarity and off-axis characteristics. This model offers exceptionally good rejection of sounds that are coming from ninety degrees off axis.  This is definitely good news for users working in studios on a PC because keeping the PC noise out of the mic can be a huge headache.

Obviously, the big draw for this mic was the lower price, buy many users were pleasantly surprised at its versatility and overall quality.

Cons: The sound of this mic won’t please everyone and it has a somewhat high self-noise. With a noise figure that’s slightly on the high side of average, most users still felt that the mic was worth the purchase and the perfect option for recording acoustic instruments and vocals. Basically, by today’s standards, the noise figure isn’t brilliant, but it isn’t really an issue when you’re close micing instruments or vocals. However, the mic definitely isn’t recommended for classical instrument recording at a distance. This model does not come with a shock mount, which was a big minus for most users. However, the manufacturer obviously didn’t include one in order to keep the mic priced relatively low.

Consumers looking for the perfect dynamic mic for vocals had better luck using the Shure SM7B microphone, which is said to be a little more forgiving and versatile.

AT2020 Mic Conclusion and Rating

Considered a general purpose capacitor mic, it’s pretty hard to find any faults with this model. Most consumers liked the mic’s well-balanced sound both for acoustic guitars and vocals. Consumers who purchased Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone gave it a user rating of four and a half stars out of five stars for overall quality, versatility and pricing.