The review that sparked the Audio-Technica 'As Good As It Gets' ad campaign
I got to try out the Audio-Technica AT2020 in the studio. We wanted to review it and compare it to some different mics. Every now and again, it's a good idea just to pull out mics and listen to them up against each other.
We looked at the AT2020 and used a Beyerdynamic Soundstar MKII, Shure SM58, the original version of the Studio Projects B1 and an Audio-Technica AT4040 for comparison. We chose a Millenia TD-1 as the mic preamp. Even though the Millenia TD-1 ads brag about its twin topology, the mic pre only uses the FET topology with mics.
The AT2020 is a side-adress cardioid-pattern electret-condenser mic requiring 48 volts of phantom power. For better or worse, it does not really have a noticeable proximity effect. Most times, lack of proximity effect is a good thing. You can get right up on the mic without any boominess or bassiness. And, I found the cardioid pattern to be tight enough for most home recording situations. Due to its lack of proximity, the AT2020 is a good choice for VO and broadcast.
I looked at the frequency chart and I knew why no proximity. The AT2020 starts to shave the frequencies at around 200 Hz.
On the top end, the mic comes across on the bright side. I don't consider it brittle. Some bright mics sort of distort the high frequencies so that the highs you do get end up being grainy or even brittle. I found the AT2020 put across the high frequencies with quality sonics. One good thing about brighter flavored mics is that you can use a fabric or foam popfilter to soak up a little high frequencies if the highs become problematic or if you want a slightly different sound.
I found the AT2020 to be a reasonably good instrument mic. I also found the AT2020 to be a decent vocal mic. I don't know of another side-address condenser that I've used in the price range of the AT2020 that can perform as well on both instruments and voice.
Someone complimented the AT2020 and said of this mic that it sounded fine on his voice and decent on his acoustic guitar. No mic in this price range is going knock your socks off. Those sorts of mics cost a lot more than the AT2020. But, making a mic of quality build that sounds fine on more than one kind of source and streets for around $100 is an achievement.
The Bottom Line: I found the AT2020 a versatile mic for the price. Street price is around $100. It is recommended. If the $100 price range is your budget, then rest assured that the AT2020 is as good as it gets in a condenser mic that can handle vocal and instrument duties.