With all the budget-priced condenser microphones now available to the masses, there are only a few that deliver serious bang for super-low bucks. Among them is the Audio-Technica AT2020, a decidedly no-frills, rock-solid condenser with performance that belies its low price. With a low-mass capsule capable of faithfully reproducing fast transients, this versatile mic captures instruments admirably, and its crisp top end paired with lower-mid warmth is consistently flattering on vocals. And since the AT2020 is priced to fit into any home studio's budget, it's an ideal "first condenser."
You may have heard that condenser microphones are more fragile than their dynamic cousins. True as that may be, the AT2020 sports a heavy, durable build quality that puts much higher-priced condensers to shame. Check the customer reviews for reports of folks unceremoniously dropping this bad boy -- with no harm done to the microphone. Although it's not recommended that you deliberately knock about your AT2020, it's inspiring to have a piece of gear that feels this sturdy and solid on its stand. After all, you'll want to be using this microphone for a long, long time.
Innovative Back-Electret Capsule Design
Being built like a tank is one thing, but when you're shopping for an all-around studio condenser, you need a mic that can deliver the goods sonically. To see what sets the AT2020 apart, take a close look at its unusual back-electret capsule design. Like most condenser microphones, the AT2020 requires 48V phantom power. But while most condensers send this charge directly to the diaphragm element, Audio-Technica instead runs the voltage to the back-plate of the condenser, so the diaphragm itself can be much thinner and more responsive -- a feature often found in professional measurement microphones. Additionally, the AT2020's diaphragm is 16 mm in diameter, considerably smaller than the standard 1-inch diaphragm -- giving it a faster transient response that's great for instruments, or paired up on drum overheads. A gentle 5-15 kHz boost delivers a clean, crisp, airy top end, and an intrinsic low-mid-frequency warmth makes it a favorite on male and female vocals. So don't be fooled by the price -- this mic produces sound quality characteristic of Audio-Technica's higher-priced models without the "hyped" characteristic found in cheap condensers.
High SPL Handling for Loud Sources
The AT2020 is rated at a maximum sound pressure level (SPL) of 144 dB, so it can accurately reproduce loud instruments and strong vocals with clarity and precision. A jackhammer at a distance of one meter measures approximately 100 dB SPL, so you get an idea of the Audio-Technica AT2020's capabilities. Bring on the close-miked horns, crashing drums, and screaming vocals -- this mic can handle them. Whether it's your first studio condenser or just an affordable addition to a well-stocked mic closet, this mic is designed to be as versatile as it is durable.
Cardioid Pickup Pattern: Ideal For Vocals
If you're building a budget-minded home studio, it's likely you'll be recording vocals in the same room as your computer. And that means excess noise in the recording environment. All the more reason to use a vocal microphone with excellent off-axis rejection, like the Audio-Technica AT2020. Its cardioid pickup pattern helps isolate your performance, rejecting sound from the sides or rear. It's the classic pickup pattern for recording vocals, and it's useful for building stereo X-Y pairs or ORTF setups with two microphones -- after all, at this price, you may well want to pick up a pair.
- Unbeatable price/performance ratio for a studio condenser
- Sturdy build quality reminiscent of much more expensive models
- Unique low-mass diaphragm reproduces fast transients faithfully
- High SPL handling: record loud sources, even without a pad
- Excellent off-axis rejection -- ideal for home studios with computer noise
- Included stand mount for easy placement
- Excellent "first condenser" and introduction to Audio-Technica quality
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- Element: Condenser
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 Hz
- Open Circuit Sensitivity: -37 dB (14.1 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa
- Impedance: 100 ohms
- Maximum Input Sound Level: 144 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% T.H.D.
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 74 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa
- Dynamic Range (Typical): 124 dB, 1 kHz at Max. SPL
- Phantom Power Requirements: 48V DC, 2 mA typical
- Noise: 20 dB SPL
- Weight: 12.1 oz (345 g)
- Output Connector: Integral 3-pin XLRM-type
- Accessories Furnished: Stand mount; 5/8 in. - 27 to 3/8 in. - 16 threaded adapter; protective pouch
- Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
- Base Item
- Shipping Weight: 2 lbs
- with Tripod Boom Stand and Mic Cable (18.5 Foot)
- Shipping Weight: 8 lbs
Audio-Technica's stringent consistency, reliability and quality standards bring professional performance to an extremely affordable price point in home/project studio microphones.
- The AT2020 has the price/performance standard in side-address studio condenser microphone technology.
- It is ideal for project/home-studio applications.
- High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility.
- Custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response.
- Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source.
- Pivoting, threaded stand mount attaches securely for easy and precise placement of the microphone.