Updated on Dec 29, 2020
The Audio Technica AT2020USB+ Cardiod Condenser is one of the hottest microphones on the market for podcasters, thanks to it's deep, rich sounds with an extended frequency response, making it the ideal microphone for vocal use. With one of the best ratings on Amazon, it's clear that the Musician Nerds aren't the only ones who love it.
Many years ago I first purchased the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ for vocal recording when making a tutorial. I was a massive fan of the AT2005, and so I wanted to see how the higher end condenser would sound and I was nothing short of blown away.
We're going to take a deep dive into what makes this popular microphone such a hot choice for podcasting, streaming, YouTube videos, and even music. Of course, it's also important for you to understand the downsides, and we'll recommend some alternatives for certain situations.
One thing we love the most about the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ Cardiod Condenser is the design aesthetic. The vintage look of this microphone paired with the superior audio quality offers a certain level of confidence.
This USB microphone utilizes a tripod desktop stand, perfect for desktop use with podcasts, streams, and gaming. The legs are meant to lock into place, though they can be a bit fragile. While that may come included, it looks significantly better on a boom stand, which helps you avoid any handling noises from desk vibrations.
The versatility of the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ stems from the build. It utilizes a medium-weight diaphragm with a permanent cardioid polarization to offer a massive amount of flexibility. This well-rounded USB microphone offers both deep, rich lows with crisp highs to give your vocals that extra boost on both ends for a professional experience. When we compared it with the highly regarded Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic, the leader in speech-based microphones, we found some similarities in how they boost these frequencies.
The Audio Technica AT2020USB+ comes packed with a few great features. The first one is their headphone preamp, offering a latency-free monitoring experience. They also offer mix control for blending your microphone signal and pre-recorded audio, which in my opinion is a must for the best USB microphones. Lastly, the volume control is another essential, as every situation is different and this allows you to bypass the need for an intermediary device or preamplifier.
It's also just really affordable. I mean, when it comes to finding the best cheap microphones, a strong USB compatible product made by such a reputable company is always going to be a solid path. There is a lot going for the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ and next we'll dive into what it's best used for.
The versatility that we've touched upon makes the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ a great choice for a number of uses. I've used it personally for vocals, speech, and instruments. I've also been seeing a rise in popularity for it as one of the best ASMR microphones because of it's high-quality capabilities & high sensitivity.
Being an industry leader for podcasting, this USB microphone is going to be great for vocal/speech applications, including gaming, streaming, voice overs for YouTube, and more. The cardioid pattern was perfectly executed so that when close up, all attention is on you, but as you move further away, you get a stellar ambience in your audio.
This makes the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ a great choice for recording instruments like the acoustic guitar, providing a level of depth that we expect from studio condensers. We've also tested it with a kick drum and found the transient response was in-line with what we look for in microphones like this.
While we hear about the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ being popular for speech-based applications, it does such a good job with musical instruments as well. That level of versatility is always admirable. Furthermore, if you want to find the best ASMR microphone, this one is definitely to be considered!
The first major downside we found is with the tripod stand. When we first purchased the Audio Technica AT2020USB+, we struggled for a while to get it to stand up. This isn't that uncommon of an issue, but a bit disappointing for a microphone in this price range. That being said, there are alternatives out there for both tripod stands and boom stands, which we would recommend you look into anyways.
The other downside we find with this USB microphone is the permanently polarized condenser. If you aren't sure of what microphone polar patterns are, it's the indication of how sensitive it is to sounds from certain directions (and can also be referred to as "directionality"). Some microphones only take input from the front ("Cardioid", like this one), others may take it from all sides ("Omni"). The Blue Yeti, for example, offers 4 different pattern modes, offering massive flexibility for any environment.
With all of that being said, I would never base a microphone purchase off of their included stands. The polar pattern con is a reasonable issue depending on your circumstances.
Best Used For
For some people the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ Cardiod Condenser may be out of the budget. Others may have the opposite problem, and want to invest in a little more kick. Regardless of what boat you're in, we're confident in some of these next few choices.
If you're looking for something easily comparable but at a more affordable price, the Audio Technica AT2005USB is the microphone for you, coming in at around half the cost. Cheaper condenser microphones can be difficult to manage, and so Audio Technica wisely built the AT2005 to be dynamic, focusing all efforts on strong mid-range quality for a single person.
The Audio Technica AT2005USB also offers both XLR & USB microphone capabilities, and features a low-mass diaphragm for rapid response times and increased audio accuracy. If you're interested in one of those microphones, you can get a live price check here. You may also be interested in reading Review Of The Audio Technica AT2005USB.
Those looking for a little more punch will likely get what they need from the higher-end models of the Blue Yeti series. This USB microphone series is one of the industry leaders, as they offer flexibility & durability as well as being feature-rich, but most importantly, having studio-grade quality. Their two best models are the Blue Yeti X and the Blue Yeti Pro, which offers the highest resolution with the option of using an XLR connection.
If quality is your primary concern and you can stretch that budget, the Blue Yeti series is always a fine choice. If you want to learn more, we've written a review on the base model.
Overall the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ is an amazing USB condenser microphone, and we can see why it's found so much popularity with the podcast community. The professional quality and durability paired with the versatility makes this one of our favorite USB microphones.
While it would be great if it had that extra kick from higher resolution, we're not all too sure that it even needs it. We're more than happy with where this microphone is at now, and if you're debating it, you should probably take the dive. If not, one of the listed alternatives should be perfect for you.
If you do make the purchase, we'd love to hear your feedback below! And if you went with one of the alternatives, let us know which one! And as always, we're open to criticism. Do you disagree with one of our points? We'd love to hear about it.
Posted on Sep 29, 2020
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