AT2020 vs 2035 vs 2040 (Differences + Which Is Right For You?)

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  • The AT2020 and AT2035 are great beginner cardioid condenser mics
  • The AT2040 is a dynamic mic designed especially for podcasting and broadcasting
  • The AT2020 and AT2035 are quite similar, while the AT2040 is its own beast

The Audio-Technica AT2020 and AT2035 are two of the most popular condenser microphones for beginners or those on a tight budget.

As a matter of fact, both mics are extremely similar, although you can think of the AT2035 as the big brother of the AT2020. 

Audio-Technica AT2020
$87.00

The AT2020 gives you classic Audio-Technica sound quality at an incredibly low price! Capture the subtleties and nuances of vocals and acoustic guitars, then take on screaming guitar amplifier cabinets - all with one mic.

Why We Love It:
  • Ideal for home studios
  • Superior transient response
  • Great dynamic range
View Price On Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

Then there’s the AT2040, which is a dynamic mic intended mostly for voiceovers, broadcasting, and podcasting. The three mics connect via an XLR cable and are very well-built. 

All these mics come from one of the most respected companies in audio. Audio-Technica are known for producing exceptionally priced ‘studio-quality’ gear that is popular with both bedroom musicians and professionals.

Audio-Technica AT2020 vs 2035 vs 2040: Which Is Best?

The AT2020 and the AT2035 are quite similar. They actually look the same and can be used for the same applications.

The difference between them is minimal, with the AT2035 including a 10 dB pad switch, a shock mount, and a bit higher max SPL than the AT2020. But for this, you’ll have to fork over an extra $50.

On the flip side, the AT2040 is a different type of mic with its own sound and approach. The Audio-Technica AT2040 is a dynamic mic rather than a condenser microphone.

It is intended to capture the spoken voice well. Also, dynamic mics typically aren’t among the top choices for recording vocals, acoustic guitars, etc. 

Which one is best for you will depend mostly on what you want to do and if you are willing to pay more for some extra features. 

Commonalities

Both the AT2035 and AT2020 are extremely similar mics. For example, they both feature a cardioid polar pattern, which is great for picking up the source in front of the mic and rejecting noise from the sides and back

Besides, both mics are condensers, perfect for picking up subtleties and nuances that your typical dynamic mics do not capture.

In short, both mics will work well in a studio situation, particularly for home or project studios. But you will want to make sure your room is well treated before you use condenser microphones in particular.

BEST VALUE
Audio-Technica AT2035
$149.00

Audio-Technica's stringent consistency, reliability and quality standards bring professional performance to this extremely affordable line of home/project studio microphones.

Why We Love It:
  • Extremely versatile
  • Consistent
  • Reliable
View Price on Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

Both of these mics do a nice job of picking up voice and guitar, and this is probably the most common application for beginners with home studios. 

Another point in common between the AT2035 and AT2040 is their frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

This is a typical response for a condenser mic in this price range and is enough to capture voices and acoustic instruments with detail. 

On the other hand, besides connecting via an XLR cable, the only similarity that the AT2040 shares with the mics above is the price range.

This dynamic mic costs exactly the same as the AT2020, and is just 50 dollars less than the AT2035.

Differences

Although both the AT2020 and AT2035 mics are remarkably similar, they do have differences that may help you make your final purchase decision.

As mentioned above, a diaphragm condenser microphone like these two Audio-Technica models is capable of capturing the detail and subtlety of sources like vocals and acoustic guitars quite well. 

Contrast that with the AT2040. Although some engineers and producers like to use dynamic mics to record vocals and acoustic guitars, the AT2040 is not known as a top choice for these applications

Mics like the Shure SM7B have become one of the go-to choices for dynamic mics in the studio. As you’d expect, it also costs four times more than the Audio-Technica AT2040. 

The AT2040 was designed with voiceovers, broadcasting, and podcasting in mind. That said, you can still use it in the studio to record vocals and acoustic instruments.

After all, which mics you use for what is largely a matter of taste. 

Max SPL and Self Noise

The AT2035 has a maximum SPL rating of 148 dB. Contrast that with the AT2020 which features a maximum SPL of 144 dB.

In other words, the AT2020 can take sources that are a bit louder before it begins to distort. That said, this is only a 4 dB more and though theoretically it can make a difference, it probably won’t be much.

On the other hand, the AT2020 features 20 dB of self-noise, while the AT2035 has 12 dB of self-noise, making the latter a bit quieter than the former.  

Frequency Response

As mentioned above, both the Audio-Technica AT2035 and the AT2020 feature a frequency response ranging between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This is a good range to capture nuance and details on acoustic instruments, voices, and more.

On the other hand, the AT2040 features a frequency response that goes from 80 Hz to 16 kHz. Naturally, this is more limited than the range found on the AT2020 and AT2035.

However, the range of the AT2040 is great for broadcasting and podcasting, which is exactly what this mic was intended for. 

Audio-Technica AT2040

With the AT2040 from Audio-Technica, your dreams of crisp, clear podcast audio will finally come to fruition.

Why We Love It:
  • Perfect for podcasting
  • Ultra-smooth audio
  • Multistage foam mesh windscreen
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Again, you can use it for recording voice and acoustic instruments but you will miss that very top end. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide if the limited frequency response is fine or not for your needs. 

There are some ‘bumps’ to be aware of with each mic. The AT2020 has a 5 dB dip around 80 Hz and a bump of 6 dB around 8 kHz, while the AT2035 has a 7 dB bump around 15 kHz.  

Price

The cheaper condenser mic is the AT2020. At 100 dollars, it is the same price as the AT2040.

However, although both share the same price, they are very different mics, as we’ve stated throughout this article.  

The AT2035 is the mic that is closest to the AT2020 in features and function, but the former is 50 dollars more expensive because of the extra features. 

Sound

The sound that you get from both the AT2035 and the AT2020 is comparable. Some might say that the AT2035 has a bit more ‘air’ with an overall pristine quality.

This is likely due to the more pronounced bump around 15 kHz. However, the difference is really not that big. 

And like most things in audio, it is all about a matter of taste, especially because of the difference in sound between the two are small.  

Both mics capture vocals well, and with a full sound. The same applies to acoustic instruments.

In the case of the AT2040, it does a great job at capturing spoken voice, keeping it clear and crisp at all times, but without being overpowering. 

Storing

Condenser mics are sensitive to hits and abuse and should be treated with care.

This is another key difference compared to a dynamic mic. Because of their transducer, condenser mics do not do well with falls, bumps, hits, spilled beer, and other hazards of live gigs. 

In other words, you need to be able to store your condenser mic in a case that ensures its protection

The AT2035 comes with a pouch that offers greater protection than the AT2020 pouch

Similarly, the AT2035 ships with a shock mount, while the AT2020 just comes with a stand mount.

As you’d expect, shock mounts offer protection against hits, bumps, and other unintended movements that might happen during recording. 

Conclusion 

Although they are very similar mics, the Audio-Technica AT2035 does come with more features than the AT2020.

From a higher Max Sound Pressure Level to a lower self-noise and a pad switch, and better accessories, the AT2035 is the better choice

BEST VALUE
Audio-Technica AT2035
$149.00

Audio-Technica's stringent consistency, reliability and quality standards bring professional performance to this extremely affordable line of home/project studio microphones.

Why We Love It:
  • Extremely versatile
  • Consistent
  • Reliable
View Price on Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

The question then becomes how much those extra features are worth to you. Would I pay 50 more dollars for these extra features? No, I would not.  

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is almost identical to the AT2035 and can be used in basically the same situations.

On the other hand, the AT2040 is in another league. Sure, you can use it to record, but this dynamic mic was specifically designed for podcasting, voiceover work, and broadcasting

All in all, these three mics are great choices for beginner musicians and engineers or those on a tight budget

To read more about these mics, check out our other comparison articles:

FAQ’s

Does the AT2020 need phantom power?

Yes the AT2020 and AT2035 require phantom power to function. Phantom power can be provided by an audio interface, preamp, or mixer.

Is the AT2035 or AT2020 better for recording vocals?

Although both of these mics provide very similar sound, the AT2035 has a bit more ‘air’. So it depends on what you think suits your vocals best.

Do either come with a shock mount?

The AT2035 comes with a shock mount, while the AT2020 does not. It ships with a standard mount instead.  

Is AT2040 good for podcasting?

Yes, the AT2040 is a good choice for podcasting, voiceovers, and other applications where you need to capture the human voice with great clarity. 

Although the frequency range does not extend beyond 16 kHz, this is not a problem for podcasting and broadcasting which use lossy compression that often won’t reproduce these higher frequencies anyway.

Are the AT2035, AT2040, and AT2020 durable microphones?

Yes, the AT2035, AT2040, and AT2020 are all well constructed and durable. They should last a long time if you take care of them. 

Because the AT2040 is a dynamic microphone it is not as fragile as the other two. Still, you should be careful with all microphones regardless of the type.