NEW: Audio-Technica
AT2020USB-X

NEW from Audio-Technica: AT2020 USB-X

This new Audio-Technica microphone offers the “critically acclaimed, award-winning sound of the original AT2020 with the convenience of a plug-and-play USB-C operation with a custom desk stand”.

Why do we like it? Let’s dig in for a closer look.

According to Audio-Technica, AT2020USB-X was “specially designed to meet the needs of content creators, making it the best microphone for streaming, podcasting, recording music, gaming and video recording”

The new King (of Zoom & Teams)

We’ve given AT2020USB-X a proper flogging now, for online meetings.

The best feature is…. the sound.

In the middle of one meeting last week, we blurted out “this is a new mic, how does it sound?” to the person at the other end.

A great answer came back – from the non-audio nerd in the meeting…

What we particularly loved about the “You don’t sound thin” quote – is that it came from someone who sits in online meetings all week long.

For him (the aforementioned non-audio nerd) to hear a significant difference from all the other microphones he is forced to listen to every single day, and was able to articulate that difference – speaks volumes for AT2020USB-X

These are testing times

Following “the meeting”, it was time to take AT2020USB-X into our studio and give it a test. In particular, how did it sound in comparison to other popular side-address USB condenser microphones?

Before we get to that – our second favourite feature of this mic (after the sound quality) is the silent on/off touch button.

“A simple touch of the capacitive mute button immediately silences the microphone. The mic’s LED ring changes from blue to red indicating that the audio is muted.”

The ‘mute’ colour looks more orange to us.. but that’s a small detail.

Because the mute button is ‘touch’ rather than a mechanical switch, you won’t hear any handling noise, nor a clunk at the other end – so it makes for a really handy ‘cough button’ for those times you can’t keep it together.

Back to the test:

Like most USB condenser microphones, AT2020USB-X has a nice ‘top end’, but it also has a defined and developed mid-range, which helps to capture the natural tone of a human voice.

Get close to the microphone, by adding a boom arm, for ‘more voice and less room sound’ or just use the included desk stand, and AT2020USB-X still sounds great.

The blurb from Audio-Technica:

“The microphone’s advanced analog-to-digital converter supports multiple sampling rates, with resolution up to 24-bit/96 kHz for extremely clear, natural sound reproduction”

Podcasting with AT2020USB-X

Being a great sounding USB condenser microphone, AT2020USB-X will work nicely for podcast – for a single seat.

If you’re more the ‘get-4-people-in-a-room’ podcast host, there are a few products out there that handle multiple microphones, headphones, talkback calls, jingles, which will work better than negotiating all the above with USB microphones.

However, if your podcast is more like an audiobook (single person delivery), AT2020USB-X has great sounding audio-to-digital conversion, a handy headphone socket for zero-latency monitoring, and will be an excellent choice.

Streamers, Gamers, Content Creators…

Right. Is this mic going to suit streamers?

That’s a big, fat, YES.

Favourite feature #3

The headphone socket (3.5mm) around the back of AT2020USB-X allows for latency-free monitoring – that is, no lagging or delay between your voice and what you hear in the connected headphones.

The two control wheels are simple to use:

  • Right Wheel = overall headphone volume control
  • Left Wheel = mix between microphone and computer volume levels

You can set yourself up in the ideal environment between hearing you own voice, compared with what you’re seeing on the screen, and there’s enough ‘grunt’ in the volume of the headphone amp to power most headphones you’re likely to come across in the streaming / gaming worlds.

110 mW (at 1 kHz, 1% T.H.D., 32 Ω)

If you’re unsure about which headphones are going to work best, remind yourself of why the Ω symbol makes a difference in the world of pro audio vs consumer audio – in our Guide to Choosing Headphones article here (from July 2021).

USB mic for music recording and production

Look. We’ll come right out and say it.

USB microphones for recording and music production are not our first choice.

Do they work? Yes.

Are there better options? Also yes.

For a tiny hobbyist budget, it’s going to do just fine – and you’ll have a whole lot of fun along the way.

Should you wish to expand and/or upgrade your home studio gear, there won’t really be a place for this mic in your studio toolkit… so shift it back to being an excellent Teams/Zoom microphone, a ripper Streaming mic, and a great choice for single seat podcasting)

If you are reading about USB microphones because you’re thinking about a home studio… talk with us first, and we’ll make sure you get looked after!

AT2020USB-X final word:

This is a great all-round USB mic.

The 3 best features are:

  • The sound
  • Capacitive mute button
  • Headphone controls

It comes with a desk stand, but you can easily mount to any of your existing stands. It’s very quick to plug-and-play (simple set up), and is USB-C compatible.

AT2020USB-X is an excellent choice.

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