Looking for a cheaper microphone can really test your instincts. Take this mic for example: it bears the name of Audio Technica, one of the most trusted names in microphones, but it goes for a price that is exceedingly affordable for the project studio. How can this be?
Take a look at the construction and the mystery deepens. No cheap plastic parts….solid metal grill….feels solid, far too heavy for a cheap microphone. What gives?
Nothing, really. You find the same quality construction present in all their microphones, with a few of the extras trimmed away. For instance, bigger ticket models like the AT4040 sport a -10 db pad switch and an optional HPF at 80 Hz. Losing those brings the sonic glory of Audio Technica into the home studio realm, with an almost unbelievable price.
Most users agree that this mic could easily sell for several hundred dollars more than it does. There are a few reasons for the incredible sound of the microphone.
The designers went through great pains to create an open wire basket around the capsule, to reduce reflections inside the mic. Some microphones can have a sort of muffled sound, due to extra material packed around the capsule. Without this, you get a much more faithful reproduction of the sound you’re after.
A low self-noise factor helps, as well. This is an issue that particularly plagues condenser microphones. The lower the noise, the quieter you can record. Totally possible with the 2020, though nuanced ambient recordings might be out of the question.
Finally, it is a fairly flat frequency response with a high frequency hump that really brings out the crystal, crisp highs. This is a hallmark of large diaphragm condensers(LDC), which the 2020 delivers accurately, maybe even a little too much for some people. A quick survey of user comments shows that some people find it perfect, while others think it a bit too shrill or bity. But then again, it’s just a microphone. And a damn good one, at that.
Quite a few producers are looking for a sort of buttery low mid range from an LDC that adds some oomph to voices, and you get that with the 2020, as well, even though the frequency response chart doesn’t really indicate it.
Though the smaller capsule size means that the 2020 isn’t a true LDC, that doesn’t stop it from serving perfectly on most sound sources. Throw it at just about anything and you can expect very faithfully rendered results.
If you’re in this game for the long haul, consider the AT 2020 to be a core component of your toolbox.