Audio Technica are a Japanese company that were founded in 1962. With almost 60 years of innovation behind them, they are an established brand that delivers very high-quality audio solutions to the consumer.
The legendary Phil Ramone
I was first introduced to the Audio Technica range of microphones by the legendary Phil Ramone in the late 1990s. That’s where my interest in Audio Technica microphones began, and it continues to this day. If they were good enough for Phil Ramone, then they are obviously a quality microphone with lots of character and charm.
As I mentioned in another article, I recorded all of George Michael’s vocals from the end of the 1990’s on-wards, using an Audio Technica AT4060 microphone. If you listen to the vocal recordings from that point on, you can certainly hear more depth and clarity in the vocal than on earlier recordings.
The Audio Technica AT2020 is an entry-level cardioid condenser microphone. It may have a lower-end price point, but it responds like a microphone that’s a lot more expensive than it actually is. This is one of the reasons that I am a fan of Audio Technica because they deliver quality even in the lower-priced models of their extensive microphone range.
Therefore, I was excited to try one of their lower-range vocal microphones. So, let’s take a look at one of their entry-level microphones in our in-depth Audio Technica AT 2020 Review…
The Audio Technica AT2020 is a good solid build, as you would expect from Audio Technica, and weighs in at only 12.1 ounces. It’s an attractive microphone with a steel body, finished in matt black. It also has a rugged, black mesh grill housing and protecting the capsule. As you would expect, it uses an XLR cable.
The capsule is a 16mm back-electret capsule. This is quite small for these types of microphones but doesn’t mean corners are being cut, as many more expensive microphones also feature them.
The capsule has a full frequency bandwidth of 20Hz to 20 kHz. This microphone is nicely present with a lift from around 5Khz to 15kHz. You also have more than enough bass and warmth here, which again at this price is a bonus.
A pad and filter switch are not included on this microphone, which is an understandable way of delivering a low-cost, budget product. Plus, as with all condenser microphones, you will also need a unit with 48-volt Phantom Power to use this microphone; thankfully, 99.9% of interfaces and mixing consoles provide this.
What’s a Cardioid polar pickup?
Microphones with a cardioid polar pickup pattern are more sensitive at the front. The back and the sides pickup far less sound, which makes cardioid microphones the perfect choice for vocals and a number of instruments.
The AT2020 has a well-designed diaphragm that uses neodymium magnets to produce its pickup patterns. This is a microphone that is capable of handling a lot of level without any distortion; in fact, it is comfortable handling signals up to 144 decibels.
If you are working on a really dynamic song, you will have no problems really blasting out those vocals. For example, if you were recording gospel singers with lots of dynamics, there shouldn’t be any problem. If you are recording close mic’d breathy vocals, with that presence lift, your vocals will sound clean, crisp, well rounded with lots of depth.
A good pop shield would be a great investment. Even though the capsule is well housed, it is pretty sensitive and will pick up un-wanted pops in your vocal performance.
I recorded some acoustic guitars with the AT2020. The recorded sound was really well balanced, full bodied, with excellent clarity. On both vocals and acoustic guitars, it delivered to a very high standard. I can imagine many other applications where it would deliver equally well.
The AT2020 works very well for close miking, but it is fairly sensitive and can be a little noisier than average. The noise level is acceptable, but I don’t recommend this as a microphone for orchestras or anything that needs a bit of distance.
Superb for podcasting
For the podcasting community, I think the AT2020 is a fantastic option at a great price. With that cardioid polar pickup pattern, you should have no problems from unexpected room noises. It will cover all broadcasting needs, video work, and anything with spoken word.
Use a quality microphone preamp…
Being the budget microphone, I would recommend using either a good quality mic pre or a good software option.
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Permanently polarized condenser with fixed-charge back plate.
- Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz.
- Sensitivity: -37 DB (14.1 mV).
- Max input level: 144 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% T.H.D.
- Signal-to-noise Ratio: 74 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa.
- Dynamic Range: 124 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL.
- Weight: 345 Grams.
- Phantom Power: 48-volt DC, 2 mA typical.
- Dimensions: 6.38 inches long by 2.05 inches wide.
- Output connector: 3-pin XLR.
What’s in the box
- Audio Technica AT2020 cardioid condenser microphone.
- Stand-mount for 5/8” -27 threaded stands.
- Soft vinyl zip-up protection pouch.
Audio Technica AT 2020 Review Pros and Cons
- Great price point.
- Good vocal microphone.
- Excellent quality sound.
- Good for acoustic guitars.
- No pad or filter switch.
- Basic stand-mount.
- Can be noisy in some applications.
Audio Technica AT 2020 Review – My Verdict
What I have experienced in my short time reviewing Audio Technica microphones is that Audio Technica are all about delivering quality at a price without trying to cut many corners. They seem to be able to somehow deliver excellence across the range, regardless of the budget.
Don’t get me wrong; the more expensive products are better. But for an entry-level microphone, you’ll be hard pushed to find something at this price that will give you a very usable, high quality, finished sound that sits easily in the mix.
Such good value for the money…
In a hugely competitive market, the Audio Technica AT2020 has been extremely popular and sold by the bucket load. There are, of course, many options around from other well-established brands, all of which will do an excellent job for your needs. However, I personally think that you can’t go wrong with the AT 2020, considering the quality and price.
The fact that Audio Technica have maintained their high standard throughout their range gives the consumer a product that can compete with the big boys.
It’s a fantastic product which I highly recommend, and will give you a high-quality recording experience.