Audio-Technica AT2020 vs AT2035 (Side By Side Comparison)

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  • AT2020 vs AT2035: How are these two popular microphones different?
  • What are their technical specifications?
  • Which one is better valued, and best suited to you?

AT2020 vs AT2035: Which Is Better?

Both mics sound excellent. They’re both clear with a relatively low noise floor. But is one still better?

You may find that the warmer sound of the AT2020 suits your taste for cabinets or electric guitars in general. The AT2035 might sound nicer on acoustic guitars due to its slightly emphasized higher range and general crispness. I love the AT2035 on acoustic guitars and the AT2020 sounds great on a cab.

If you are starting out and/or on a budget then I would suggest the AT2020, it will cover most applications and is a great value mic at such a low price. If you don’t mind spending that little bit extra and getting a few more features, then the AT2035 is the one for you.

One thing to point out would be the flatter bass response on the AT2035.

I find this makes it better for vocals than the AT2020 and with its lower signal to noise ratio, pulling the mic back to capture a bit more of the room sound can be really nice. For years, this topic of AT2020 vs AT2035 has been heavily debated and if I had to choose one for vocals, it would be the AT2035.

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone, Black, Ideal for Project/Home Studio...
Our Pick!
Audio-Technica AT2035 Large Diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone
Model
AT2020
AT2035
Requires Phantom Power?
Polar Pattern
Cardioid
Cardioid
Frequency Range
20Hz-20kHz
20Hz-20kHz
Dynamic Range
124dB
136dB
Impedance
100Ω
120Ω
Signal-To-Noise Ratio
74dB
82dB
Sensitivity
-37dB
-33dB
Pad
Filter Controls
-
HPF
Shock Mount Included?
Price
$99.00
$239.99
Find Out More
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone, Black, Ideal for Project/Home Studio...
Model
AT2020
Requires Phantom Power?
Polar Pattern
Cardioid
Frequency Range
20Hz-20kHz
Dynamic Range
124dB
Impedance
100Ω
Signal-To-Noise Ratio
74dB
Sensitivity
-37dB
Pad
Filter Controls
-
Shock Mount Included?
Price
$99.00
Find Out More
Our Pick!
Audio-Technica AT2035 Large Diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone
Model
AT2035
Requires Phantom Power?
Polar Pattern
Cardioid
Frequency Range
20Hz-20kHz
Dynamic Range
136dB
Impedance
120Ω
Signal-To-Noise Ratio
82dB
Sensitivity
-33dB
Pad
Filter Controls
HPF
Shock Mount Included?
Price
$239.99
Find Out More

Understanding What To Look For In A Good Mic

Microphones are perhaps the most important tool for recording. Each one has its own flavor and one is never enough. Over the years, new mics come but very rarely go. 

They are a simple concept and the technology in them doesn’t really change at its core, so it’s no surprise a lot of studios and professionals will use the same mic for 20 or more years.

Certain microphones lend themselves to different instruments and different styles. 

Some are great for toms as they may give a nice emphasis on the lower frequencies and add body. Some might emphasize the 4-8kHz range giving your acoustic guitar a bit of sparkle in your mix. 

Using different models on various instruments in a mix can help things breathe and give each part its own flavor so they aren’t all fighting for the same space in a mix.

There are a lot of videos and reviews on Audio Technica’s AT2020 vs the AT2035. But what are the differences and how good are these mics to begin with?

AT2020 vs AT2035: Similarities & Differences

Let the games begin….

Similarities

Both of these microphones are condenser mics meaning they require phantom power to run. In return, you get a much better high-frequency response.

Phantom power is generally standardized at 48V. This could come from the preamps in your mixing console or your audio interface (click here for our recommended list of budget audio interfaces). However, some small portable preamps – say a portable recorder or battery-powered preamp for a camera – might only be able to supply a lower voltage by design.

Both mics have cardioid polar patterns meaning they are focused on what’s in front of them while cancelling out the noises from behind and the sides.

They both have a frequency range of 20Hz – 20KHz which is the range of the human hearing.

Both are considered large-diaphragm mics meaning they have a lower noise floor and are less sensitive to higher frequencies.

They also share a very similar build. They are made of high-quality metal and have a metal grille to prevent damage to the capsule/diaphragm inside

Polar patterns are how we measure the directionality of a microphone. Because microphones react to various frequencies in different ways, this test is taken at set intervals in Hz. 0° is the front of the capsule and 180° is the back. Although this diagram is shown in 2-dimensional space, it is illustrating a sphere in a 3-dimensional space.

So How Do They Differ?

Although these mics are very similar on a basic level, they both sound different at the end of they day and that is the important part!

AT2020

The sensitivity of this microphone is -37dB.

The sensitivity is the ratio between the sound pressure hitting the diaphragm vs the output voltage going to your mixer or interface. The higher this number, the more sensitive it is – keeping mind these are negative numbers so -37dB is lower than -30dB.

The dynamic range of this microphone is 124dB. This is the loudest sound this microphone can handle before it starts to distort.

Its signal to noise ratio is 74dB. This is the level of noise the microphone has when idle. The higher this number the stronger the signal.

It has an impedance of 100Ω. This is the resistance of the microphone. Simply put, the lower this number, the longer cable run you can have without signal degradation.

Sale
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone, Black, Ideal for Project/Home Studio...
  • The price/performance standard in side address studio condenser microphone technology
  • Ideal for project/home studio applications; The noise level is 20 db SPL
  • High spl handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility
  • Custom engineered low mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response
  • Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source....

AT2035

The phantom power on the AT2035 can operate at between 11+v – 52+v meaning you would be able to use battery powered preamps, offering more portability.

Its sensitivity is -33dB meaning it’s a hotter signal for your mixer or interface. This also means you will have to apply less gain to your signal so less of the noise floor will be amplified.

Its dynamic range is 136dB meaning it can handle louder sounds than the AT2020.

It has a signal to noise ratio of 82dB giving it a lower noise floor. Therefore it will sound just as clean further away from your source.

It has an impedance of 120Ω. Although this is higher than the AT2020, it is an almost unnoticeable amount and won’t hinder your sound at all.

The AT2035 also features a -10dB pad and a HPF (High Pass Filter). The -10dB pad will cut your output signal level in case you are running into your interface a bit hot. The HPF has a gentle roll off at 80Hz.

This microphone also comes with a shock-mount. This is a cradle to help isolate it from vibrations transferred through the microphone stand be it footsteps or a slight knock of the acoustic guitar.

At A Glance…

So really the main features the 2035 has over the 2020 are:

  • -10dB pad 
  • HPF (High Pass Filter)
  • Phantom power requirements
  • Shock-mount

So let’s look at how this can change how you work…

  • The -10dB pad would make life easier if you like hot preamps for recording. 
  • The HPF is there to remove unwanted rumble, so your environment pays a huge factor in this. You may have a studio with noisy neighbors banging on the floor above. Or maybe you are recording multiple instruments at once and want to make room for bass elsewhere in the mix.
  • Phantom power on the AT2035 is more versatile than the AT2020. So whether you are using a portable or battery powered preamp then this microphone won’t miss a beat. 11+v – 52+v will cover you for most phantom power supplies.
  • The shock mount. This will further remove rumble from your recording just like the HPF. Both are good but not 100% effective so having both really helps.
The AT2020 is also available as a USB mic.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I prefer the AT2035. I like the sparkle it gives my acoustic guitars and I do like using it to capture a bit more of the room for both guitars and vocals.

The flat bass response makes it ideal for ASMR and spoken word with a very ‘up close and personal’ feel. The shock mount means I don’t have to worry about rumble from outside influences as much, so this just rounds off the whole setup. I didn’t mind spending $50 for these extra features but some may just not need them.

Whatever you pick, make sure you think of its current and future applications. There’s no point buying something now that won’t fit the bill in a year or two’s time. Both microphones handle guitars, cabinets and acoustic instruments as well as vocals with ease.

Either way, you can’t go wrong!

Last update on 2020-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API