Audio-Technica AT2020USB appears to be yet another side-address condenser microphone with USB digital output. But this is actually a piece of hardware that is worth a full review. It delivers sound superior to mics of this price range. You can get done voiceovers and podcasts with some instrumental with AT2020USB. And at the very least, this is a fine specimen of a $100+ condenser mic. A little note here, AT2020USB+ is the model that will be available in foreseeable future as the basic AT2020USB has been discontinued, but is still available on Amazon.
Features and sound quality
AT2020USB features some serious stuff. Custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response. Cardioid polar pattern does exactly what you expect it to do. Low self-noise is what we love about a mic (and people). So, you take that AT2020USB or AT2020USB+ and plug it right into your computer’s USB port, it is going to work both with PC and Mac. And then it continues functioning seamlessly with your favorite recording software. Compatibility is here.
Obviously, AT2020USB+ is better as you can make use of the built-in headphone jack. The volume control makes it even handier. There is another unobvious good thing here – adding the headphone does not add latency, sound stays in sync, give or take the headphone. It also allows mix control while blending your microphone signal and pre-recorded audio. In other words, you can download music on your computer and record over it while listening it. No volume controlled jack on the basic AT2020USB model. High-quality A/D converter with 16 bit, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate is another reason to go with the more recent version. You can see and therefore easily access the two controls for those options. The mic has a steady frequency response that makes it good for music. This is actually one of the best curves you can see on a USB mic.
USB interface has some limitations, though. You can get crispier sound in a higher part of spectrum with XLR cable mic, that also has the shortest name, AT2020. Good news is the higher part of spectrum does not include vocals and most instruments, so you are good with AT2020USB.
If you want to hear the difference between this mic and cheaper, use it in a room prepared for sound recording. Otherwise, you will will feel like you wasted your cash.
The body of AT2020USB is made of metal intended for durable performance, and indeed, it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna crack in your hand or both hands. Nothing sticks out to get broken, the capsule is behind a metal grill. It uses a good old USB connector, hard to detach or bend accidentally. 10 ft USB cable comes bundled, that may be too short for some. But this is another good thing about USB – replacements are super easy to find.
The package also features a tripod. As you can see, the tripod is too low and wobbly, though. If you already have your favorite save this contraption for reselling or your kid playing three-legged alien invasion.
- Crystal-clear, natural sound.
- Low self-noise.
- USB connectivity.
- For AT2020USB+ model: headphone jack with volume control and mix control.
- Maybe less crispy than XLR version in some frequencies.
- Some background noise.