Hi friend and Welcome!
The Studio Projects B1 vs. AT2020. What a comparison. What a time to be alive. Grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
of each microphone
- Sound Test from Stu’s Lab (AT2020 only)
- Video Review
- Who this mic benefits?
- What you will need?
- Thoughts from Stu’s notepad (B1 only)
- Similarities & Differences
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
Studio Projects B1
- Microphone Type: Condenser. Condenser mic vs. Dynamic mic
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid. (What is a cardioid capsule?)
- Diaphragm Size: 1″ (25.4mm)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Max SPL: 132dB. What is SPL?
- Output Impedance: 200 ohms
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 82dB
- Self Noise: 12dB (A-weighted)
- Low Cut Filter: 75Hz, 150Hz (-6dB/octave)
- Pads: -10dB, -20dB
- Color: Silver
- Connector: XLR.
- Included Accessories: Shock Mount, Windscreen, Microphone Pouch
- Manufacturer Part Number: B1
This is quite a beastly large diaphragm condenser microphone, especially considering its very entry-level. Large diaphragm vs. Small diaphragm. I had heard a lot of great things about Studio Projects, and just recently got to do some more research on them. The B1 in particular has been compared with the likes of a Neumann U87 (and favorably). Another chap also mentioned he liked it better than the Bluebird. Bluebird vs. Blue Spark.
One of the biggest advantages of the B1 over other cheaper made condensers is the fact that its low end isn’t boomy or muddy. A lot of people complained about this in regard to the MXL 990. Not so with the B1. It has a wonderfully warm low end that still retains detail. It’s also great for mid-range voices, and its treble is clear and crisp, but to some may be a bit sibilant. What does sibilant mean?
- Comes with a spider shock-mount including a locking swivel with two standard thread types, as well as a spare band for the shock mount.
- Hard case, as well as a zippered case, is provided.
- Comes with a slip over the windscreen.
- Priced far lower than it should be. Competes with mics way out of its range. Very underrated piece.
- Warm low-end that still has detail.
- Good for mid-range voices.
- Clear and precise. May not need to EQ.
- No low or mid-range muddiness.
- Virtually no self-noise. A very quiet mic.
- Heavy and sturdily built. A user reported he dropped it on the floor and it still worked.
- Crisp and neutral sound.
- The sound may be a bit bright/harsh to some.
Who this mic benefits?
I’ve seen it endorsed for:
- Acoustic guitar
- Hand percussion
- Ambiance/Room sounds
- Drum overheads
- Electric guitar amps
- Rap Vocals (you can scream as loud as you want into it apparently :D)
What you will need?
You will also need:
- XLR cables. This was a huge “complaint” from people that didn’t know what they were buying. You will need at least 1 XLR cable to plug from your mic into the front, back, or top of your interface or mixer.
- Shock-mount. Optional but recommended. If the mic accidentally gets hit or something during recording, this will absorb that shock and won’t alter your vocals or record something you didn’t intend.
- Pop-filter. Should be a standard purchase with most microphones. This will prevent those plosives from coming through. Plosives are just the S’s, P’s, and other consonants that sound harsh coming out of your mouth at loud volumes. The pop-filter quiets them down. It also prevents spit and other undesirables from entering the microphone and damaging the diaphragm inside. Think of it as a shield. I recommend the Samson PS01. I’ve had one since 2007 and it’s worked wonders ever since.
- Mic Stand. You can either go with a boom stand, a scissor arm, or a desktop stand. I love the desktop stands convenience, as I don’t have to actually stand up and record (I’m lazy lol). Just make sure you go with what YOU need.
Learn more about how your computer processes the sound from your interface: Bit depth vs. sample rate!
Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
(* = general consensus)
- It ships with a windscreen, but one guy said it colored the sound and was unsatisfactory for him. You may opt to purchase a separate pop filter.
- *Included shock-mount has its shortcomings. It’s difficult to insert and remove the mic. You have to pry the plastic open with a quarter or screwdriver. It’s not very user-friendly. The hinge is also somewhat flimsy and unreliable. Needs to be tightened a bit past what is comfortable. B1 may flop over if the shock mount isn’t tightened enough.
- The zippered case may break over time, but is pretty decent all in all.
- There is a pad switch for dB cut and a filter switch that cuts down the higher frequencies if you so choose.
- For recording guitar, you want to stay somewhere between the soundhole and the 12th fret. Either above
the sound-hole pointing straight in or pointing towards the 12th fret or vice versa.
- Some say it’s picky when it comes to positioning. Good recordings when the mic is closer and on-axis with the source.
- May need a de-esser to tame the treble.
A terrific mic with low self-noise, and a clear crisp frequency response. Very versatile, and competes with mics way out of its price range. Solidly built as well. Some say it’s a bit harsh in the treble range and needs to be tamed. It’s a neutral mic and not warm, so be aware of that. Shock-mount is also dead weight. Remember mic positioning is important with this one!
Audio Technica AT2020 (XLR version)
- Microphone Type: Condenser
- 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
Reading the reviews on amazon truly left me disappointed. A good majority of the 1-star reviews that the AT2020 received were from people who had no idea what they were getting into prior to purchase. Guys, this isn’t a USB mic. It’s an XLR condenser mic that will only run off of 48v phantom power. Know what you are buying before you buy it!
There are so many good qualities about the 2020, that it’s hard to sum up. It does really well with husky, deep male voices. It’s well built and durable and comes with a nice carrying pouch giving it an added portability. Really it’s built like a tank and can take a lot of abuse.
As for its sound, it’s extremely sensitive and boasts a flat, neutral response. It also greatly benefits from some EQ’ing. Adding a bit of EQ and compression can really make this mic sound amazing. Know that above all, it is still an entry level mic but proves to be extremely versatile. You can record just about anything with it, and do it well! More on that a little later.
Check out my mega awesome sound test!!
with Pop-Filter under a blanket:
with Pop-Filter, under a blanket, farther away:
- Bold and crisp sound. Better with darker sources more so than brighter ones.
- Extremely Versatile & can handle a wide variety of studio, as well as general applications.
- Very sensitive and picks up a lot.
- Very well built and durable. Will last you a long time. Built like tank.
- Great for small home studios and beginning musicians.
- Gives a nice flat response that can be EQ’d very easily.
- The storage bag is a bit flimsy and doesn’t have any padding.
- Doesn’t come with XLR cables or shock-mount.
Check out the video review!
Who this mic benefits?
I’ve seen this thing used for nearly everything:
- Acoustic instruments
- electric guitar
- spoken word
- twitch shooter commentary
- conference calls
What you will need?
Before you buy this mic, or any mic that is XLR, you will need the following:
- 48v Phantom power via audio interface, or some sort of mixer. What does an audio interface do?
Here are a few options I recommend
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. I have this one and recommend it highly. It’s extremely reliable and will work wonders with the AT2020. You can also upgrade your mic in the future and still use it. A Great piece of equipment.
- Roland Tri Capture. Saw this mentioned by a very reliable source. It comes bundled with the AT2020 AND an XLR cable on amazon as well, so you can’t go wrong.
- Behringer Xeynx 802 Mixer. If you’re just starting out, you may not want to spend an arm and a leg on an interface. The 802 comes in handy because it has two XLR mic inputs, so you can record your vocals.
And the same accessories as with the B1:
- XLR cables.
- Mic Stand.
The AT2020 is a good starter investment because it comes from a reputable brand with a long line of great mics. It’s also a great workhorse mic that excels with many different applications. It’s well built and durable, and most of the complaints came from people who didn’t know USB from XLR. One negative I came across is that it may sound a tad bright, not unlike the B1. Also, make sure you add a bit of EQ and compression before you write it off. The raw vocals may not amaze you.
Similarities & Differences
- Both mics are very versatile.
- Both are similarly priced (around the $100 range).
- Both mics require the same gear to operate (48v phantom power, etc.)
- Both mics are very sensitive to sound, but also very durable.
- Both have a flat, neutral response.
- The AT2020 is a lot noisier than the B1. You can see that from the specifications but also from people’s experience online.
- The B1 may be a little smoother and fuller sounding.
- You may be able to scream a little harder into the 2020, as its Max SPL is 144 dB as compared to the 132 of the B1.
- The B1 may be usable on more sources than the 2020, due to the 2020 having a pronounced roll-off on the bottom end.
- AT2020 doesn’t have any switches for gain, dB, filter, etc.
- Color. Black vs. Platinum
Other than that, they are very similar mics at similar price points.
Well, it’s a bit tough to make a choice here. I’ve done a lot more research on the 2020, in part because it has more reviews and is a more popular choice. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, and I do have a bit of an issue with the sibilance factor that some people pointed out with the B1. From what I’ve read, the B1 slightly edges the 2020 because of the subtle differences, and because of that, I will recommend it over 2020, although it is an extremely close call. With all that said:
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve come away with some valuable information in this Studio Projects B1 vs. AT2020 article…
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know down below or Contact me!!
Which of these wins out in your mind? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,