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How To Set Up The Audio Technica AT2020?
This guide assumes you are brand new to XLR mic setups.
Buy an Audio Interface or Mixer
I recommend the Scarlett 2i2 3rd generation, a fantastic product with incredibly high ratings.
I previously owned one and loved it.
The only reason I sold it is that the 1st generation (pictured below) isn’t compatible with my newer laptop.
I plan on getting a 3rd generation unit very soon.
For the XLR version, you will need some sort of Audio Interface, Mixer, etc. to connect into.
Because the AT2020 requires 48V phantom power. This essentially boosts the microphone to line level so you’re able to hear what’s going on.
For that, we’ll need an Audio Interface. What does an Audio Interface Do?
Think of the Interface as the intermediary between you and your recordings.
The Interface acts as the ADC (or Analog to Digital Converter). As soon as you press record and start singing into the mic, your interface processes the information and converts it into a language that it can understand.
This is called binary language and manifests in the form of 1’s and 0’s.
- Related: Bit Depth vs. Sample Rate
The interface can also be referred to as a DAC (or Digital to Analog converter).
The same applies as above, only the situation is reversed. A DAC converts digital information into analog so YOU can hear it through your speakers, headphones, etc.
Plug the interface into your PC via USB
Make sure that the interface you choose is compatible with your PC. The Scarlett 2i2 mentioned above is compatible with most PCs.
If you only need one input, I like the Solo.
If you need 2, go with the 2i2. I personally like having the 2i2 just in case I want to record myself playing guitar and/or singing and rapping.
Use an XLR cable from the microphone into the front of the Interface.
We’re almost ready to go.
Just plug in an XLR cable from the interface to the mic and turn on phantom power.
It will either be a switch or a button (as in the case of the Solo/2i2).
Fire up Audacity and use the drop-down to find your source.
It will display the name of your microphone. Select it.
Now just press record and start talking!
I don’t currently have an interface but it’s pretty straightforward.
Another thing to keep in mind is gain.
With the AT2020 and Solo/2i2, you won’t need that much. Just play around until you find the right level.
I’ve used anywhere from 75 – 95% at any given time. It really just depends.
The most important thing is to avoid clipping at all costs.
The Solo/2i2 has a halo light around the gain knob for easy identification.
Start talking into the mic and observe the light. Does it turn green and stay green? You’re good to go. If it’s red, you’ll obviously want to lower the gain knob until you find the sweet spot.
Connect your interface to studio monitors
If you plan on listening to your mixes on studio monitors, you’ll need a set of balanced TRS to XLR cables (make sure to get 2, one for each monitor).
The TRS ends plug into the back of the Solo or 2i2, and the XLR ends plug into each monitor.
Most monitors now have both TRS and XLR options, but always make sure before purchase!
The only thing left to do is plug both monitors into wall power and make sure your audio output settings are on “JBL LSR305” (or whatever monitors you’re using).
The cool thing about the 2i2 is that you can simultaneously monitor on headphones or monitors.
Just turn the volume down on the big knob and plug the headphones in.
With that, how does this mic sound?
Audio Technica AT2020 (XLR version)
Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay!
- Microphone Type: Condenser. Condenser mic vs. Dynamic mic
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Diaphragm Size: 0.63″ (16mm)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Max SPL: 144 dB. What is SPL?
- Output Impedance: 100 Ohms
- Signal to noise ratio: 20dB
- Color: Black
- Connector: XLR. What is XLR?
- Weight: 0.76 lbs.
- Included Accessories: Stand Mount, Microphone Pouch
- Manufacturer Part Number: AT2020
The AT2020 is a phenomenal entry-level cardioid condenser microphone. What is a cardioid capsule?
It feels really solid and durable in your hand and is super easy to set up. The sound coming out of this puppy is impressive, especially for the price.
One thing I really appreciated is that it rejects background and ambient noise quite well.
My room currently does not have any Acoustic Sound Treatment, but with the AT2020 you may not even need any.
I did end up recording under a blanket for you to hear how it sounds when the environment is completely dead. More on that a bit later!
- Crisp sound and good sound quality for such an inexpensive piece. It has a very flat and neutral response and does well with EQ.
- Durable and quite heavy. Feels built to last like Duralast 😛
- Comes with a nice carrying pouch.
- Versatile piece. Does well in many recording situations.
- The storage bag is a bit flimsy and doesn’t have any padding.
- Doesn’t come with XLR cables or shock-mount.
Video Review + Mic Shootout
Comparing the C01, AT2020, and Blue Yeti! Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. Any support is much appreciated! 🙂
Stu’s Sound Test with Pop-Filter:
with Pop-Filter under a blanket:
with Pop-Filter, under a blanket, farther away:
Here’s a rap I recorded with the AT2020 that I use on my YouTube videos:
I’ve seen this thing used for nearly everything. Bold indicates what I utilized the AT2020 for.
- Acoustic instruments
- Rap vocals.
- Electric guitar
- Spoken word
- Twitch shooter commentary
- Conference calls
What you will need?
This mic requires:
- 48v phantom power via your audio interface, mixer, or preamp. I would just go with an interface here.
- XLR cable(s).
- A Mic stand. I used to own a Pro-Line boom stand, and though it was Rock-solid and heavy like Thanksgiving at Grandma’s, I decided to ultimately sell it and instead invest in a Scissor Arm – which is much more convenient and streamlined.
- A shock-mount. Optional, but helps out in minimizing the vibration that travels from the mic stand to the diaphragm.
Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
- The AT2020 doesn’t have any onboard features like a dB pad or low-cut filter, etc. It’s bare-bones Jones baby!
- A majority of the negative reviews (specifically the 1-star) failed to recognize that this mic does NOT plug and play. It’s an XLR condenser microphone that requires 48v phantom power. The difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone. Please keep this in mind before purchase!
- Does well with darker sources, as well as deep, husky male voices.
A versatile mic with a frequency response that does well with EQ, but also sounds crisp and even without it. Durable and heavy. Really does a phenomenal job of blocking out background noise, even without room treatment.
If you’re looking for an entry-level option at this price range, I would wholeheartedly recommend starting out with the AT2020.
You can always upgrade or try out different mics later, and it’s a great investment for a musician or vocalist starting out.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audio Technica AT2020 Setup & Review, and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please contact me!!
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How did I do? Are you less confused about what you need to get set up? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,