Updated on Dec 29, 2020
First released in 2012, the Audio Technica AT2005 is yet another widely popular studio microphone in the renowned AT 20 series. Like many of the microphones we review, the AT2005 was built to be versatile. Acting as both an XLR microphone & USB microphone, this handheld device can be used for anything, from stage use to digital recording.
Coming in under $100, it's easy to see why this microphone has such a high popularity as one of the best cheap microphones the market has to offer. While it looks like a performance microphone, and fits the bill as a dynamic microphone, we actually see it used more for podcasting and streaming. This is actually quite common under $100, because lower-end condenser microphones can be more difficult to work with, and so we often nudge our readers towards dynamics in this price range, anyways.
With the dual USB/XLR capabilities, we want to dive in and see which areas it can shine in the most. Does it hold as a performance and recording microphone or is it only good for podcasts? Let's find out.
The first noteworthy feature is the dual-connection, offering USB digital output and XLR analog output. Some of you may have read our debate on the difference between XLR microphones and USB microphones, where we noted there was a bump in quality for the analog (XLR) output. If you're undecided on the type of output you desire, or you plan to use this for both recording and performance, this could be a great feature.
Being a dynamic microphone, our first thought is usually stage-use, which is likely the main reason they added the XLR compatability. However, this microphone has much more popularity on the voice-over / video front, whether for podcasts, streams, YouTube, etc., and so you'll likely be more interested in the USB capabilities.
At 50Hz - 15kHz, the Audio Technica AT2005 offers a smooth, extended frequency response, which will be most effective on voice-based applications. This is further enhanced by the low-mass diaphragm, something we see in condenser microphones to increase the response time.
The AT2005 also has a durable metal construction, making it less likely to break from rough handling. This is an important feature for me, as I have broken several expensive microphones over the years, and have seen them break on live stages mid-performance. I don't get the feeling this microphoone would break easily.
As with many dynamic microphones, the Audio Technica AT2005 features a cardioid polar pattern, which blocks out noise from the sides and rear. This is absolutely perfect for stage performances, as it prevents feedback from the speakers.
However, for many of us, when recording at home, whether it's music based or a stream/podcast, it's not always easy to find a quiet space. It's not like houses are built with studio noise-proofing included, and so it can be difficult to find the perfect recording space. Unlike condenser microphones, which are built to be highly sensitive, this dynamic microphone will block out a lot of that background noise we're worrying about.
We mostly see this microphone being used for podcasting, streaming, and gaming, and it was very clearly built for desktop use. It records vocals in an incredible way, whether speaking or singing. Due to the affordability, I've noticed a rising trend in it being used as an ASMR microphone as well.
Other than the USB capabilities, the AT2005 comes with a tripod desktop stand, allowing it to sit right in front of you as you work. However, the desktop stand might not be right for you, and so it also comes with a conventional microphone clip, compatible with most stands.
In fact, my favorite stand to use with this microphone is a boom stand like this one from InnoGear, as you can place the microphone right in front of your mouth. This will be especially handy if gaming, but it's also common for podcasting to do this.
To summarize, the Audio Technica AT2005 has a lot of uses, from performing to studio recording, but is going to be best for stuff like podcasts and gaming. There's better microphones at a comparable price for music-based applications, and so we would really recommend it more for voice work.
The first major downside we noticed was the low output. This is not uncommon in dynamic microphones, but for a beginner friendly mic, it poses as a serious caveat.
As we've noticed in other dynamic microphones, like the Shure SM7B, they effectively block out the background noise successfully, but then require a ton of gain to sound good. With the Shure, we use the Cloudlifter CL-1, a simple ultra-clean gain booster, that bring the microphone up to normal volumes.
The problem with that is, it's not only an added expense, but only supports XLR connection, so you'll need either an XLR to USB converter or another audio interface with USB output. However, the problem may be correctable post-production, if you don't mind recording at a lower volume.
Any Digital Audio Workstation is going to allow you different options for altering your audio volume, such as using compression effects. Whether you're recording for voice-overs, YouTube videos, music, etc. it's best practice to master via your preferred software, and this can just be another step of the process.
Another issue worth bringing up is the lack of an internal shock mount. Unlike what we've seen in the comparable Shure SM58, the Audio Technica AT2005 has no way of managing handling noises, and yet built to be used with a desk stand. Illogical, if I do say so myself, but at least it's a dynamic microphone, so it will be a little less susceptible to desk noises.
Best Used For
While the AT2005 is a fine choice for many, and at it's price point, there's not much to compare it with. It's not often we're rating an <$100 USB microphone at a 9.0, but there's certainly far better if you can stretch the budget. Furthermore, there's potentially better choices at comparable price points for singing, whether live or on recording.
The Shure SM58 has a few more built-in features, like an internal pop-filter, pneumatic shock mount, and spherical wind. All of these work to enhance the quality of your audio by removing any unwanted noises. Add on top of that the cardiod polar pattern for blocking out background noises.
If you're interested in one of those microphones, you can get a live price check here. You may also be interested in reading our review.
If you're looking for a little more quality, and can stretch the budget, one of our favorite series of microphones is brought to us by Blue.
The Blue Yeti series is a fine choice for podcasting, streaming, and gaming. Offering studio-quality audio, this condenser microphone is one of the best USB microphones we have ever used, offering a host of features, superior quality, and is as simple to use as the AT2005.
This microphone sets a standard for USB computer mics.
If you want to learn more, we've written a review on the base model.
Overall, the Audio Technica AT2005 makes for a strong podcast, streaming, and gaming microphone, offering superior handling of background noises by being both quiet and cardioid. This is definitely essential for the beginner who can't find quiet space in their home.
It's certainly far from perfect, but for the price point it comes in at, that should be expected. There's a lot of great uses you can get from this versatile USB/XLR microphone, and if it's closer to the top of your budget, we definitely recommend it.
Posted on Sep 27, 2020
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