MORE THAN A SPEECH MIC
Chances are, if you’re looking at the AT2020USB-X and not the cheapest option from OfficeWorks’ house brand, it’s because you care about sound. So, how does the Audio-Technica mic sound?
Compared to a dynamic counterpart, the cardioid condenser capsule has a definite sizzle in the upper trebles. The upside is you don’t need to do much to arrive at a polished sound on speech or instruments; the downside is the high-end emphasis won’t always pair nicely with your source. But if you’ve ever used an AT2020 before, you’ll know the mic has no issues going between guitars, percussion, sung vocals, acoustic pianos, and practically whatever you put in front of it. The slightly scooped midrange maintains a clean sonic signature even when the tracks stack up. Plosives, rumbles and generally an overdose of low end can be an issue – a built-in HPF would be most welcome – but it’s nothing a filter in post can’t fix.
One thing worth pointing out is the 120° cardioid polar pattern. That’s fairly wide for a mic of this sort. If your room isn’t acoustically dead, expect to hear lots of it. As always, proximity is your friend if you want to tighten up those reflections. On the flip side, the pickup width combined with the sensitivity of a condenser capsule means it does a great job in scatter gun scenarios – picking up half a table full of presenters in a conference room, capturing a one-mic sketch of a bunch of musos in the same space, or at the back of the room at a live show.
All that is to say the AT2020USB-X is a perfectly viable option for not only video calls, but music or other content creation purposes. Or, importantly, any remote recording purposes. Did I mention you can use it with your smart devices? Keep one in your bag to capture a spontaneous idea, then use it to record a formal version into your DAW when you get home. Zero latency monitoring and the built-in headphone output makes a quick recording sesh a breeze. It’s nice when a product works without complaints with whatever device is nearest to you at the time.