Review: Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP

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Review: Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Audio Technica AT2020USB-XP | Technical Audio Group | RRP 349.00

Content creation is a growing market, and the AT2020USB-XP is here for it. With more and more makers earning some of their income through videos and podcasts, as well as branching out their network – now having an excuse to meet, interview and liaise with other industry professionals. We can all appreciate the importance of having equipment that is A) mobile and B) reliable for this kind of work, an especially important point when you float in circles that have the technical know-how to understand what you’ve done wrong when something fails!

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To help us along, Audio-Technica have consistently produced products for music makers of all levels, and while the AT2020USB-XP is an all-in-one solution for content creation, it does act as a great solution for recording music or other content on the fly. The 2020USB-XP is a cardioid condenser mic, but connects via USB, and includes latency-free monitoring on board. Can’t travel with a mic, preamp and interface? Take the AT2020USB-XP and you’ll be covered for all of this, with a stand and pop-shield to boot!

AT2020USB-XP lifestyle

The AT2020USB-XP connects via USB-C (cable included!) and has both a headphone control and computer/microphone mixer control to blend between either sound from your computer or direct from the mic, and any blend between the two! This allows you to hear computer sounds, albeit with some latency, as well as monitoring your own voice latency free. Buffer size and latency can be an instant session killer, so the AT2020USB-XP does away with this risk entirely! The headphone output of the mic is a 3.5mm output, so will fit most standard headphones. The mic itself has a cardioid pattern, capturing a true representation of whatever it’s pointed at, while rejecting whatever is behind it. This is especially helpful for music, as well as podcasting when multiple sources might be facing each other. The rejection helps reduce ambience, phase issues and improves clarity and directionality of the sounds!

The AT2020USB-XP joins the 20 Series family that include the AT2020 wired cardioid condenser, AT2031 end address condenser and AT2050 multi-pattern condenser microphone. The AT2020USB-XP encapsulates this entire series in a complete bundle that connects via USB rather than XLR, making it ideal for recording and creating on the fly.

When diving into creating on the fly, your surroundings can be less than ideal. The AT2020USB-XP has three levels of noise reduction available, including no noise reduction at all for a full-range, untreated recording. The AT2020USB-XP includes a mute button that dims to red when muted, or returns to blue when unmuted, also indicating the mic is receiving power from your computer. Being an all-in-one solution, the AT2020USB-XP has automatic gain control available. This means you can record consistent, well-balanced audio without having to watch your input levels or use bulky compressors and limiters.

In use, the AT2020USB-XP is a breeze, connecting quickly and being recognized by a DAW, the blue light letting me know the AT2020USB-XP was ready to go when I was. The noise reduction is transparent, offering a subtle shift in room ambience for a speaking voice, but no noise reduction at all makes for a great music recording and demoing solution for a band on the road. Sophomore slump be damned, the AT2020USB-XP helps you record fleeting ideas quickly and easily, even on a bus, in a car, waiting at an airport or in a hotel room. Toggling between computer and microphone sound is easy, the blend control feeling robust and well built, allowing you accurately set (and forget) the settings so you can focus on the incoming sound without any delay introduced from the round trip to your computer. The headphone output offers plenty of volume, easily controlled by the volume slider. The mic also, pleasantly, has no ‘click’ or ‘pop’ when the mute is engaged, which can sometimes be the undoing of a podcast listening experience, the pop going against everything a mute button is intended for.

In the box, you’ll find the AT2020USB-XP itself, as well as cables to connect it all up. As it’s intended for use with content creators, streamers and podcasters, it includes desktop stand to isolate it from bumps, and the included windshield protects the microphone’s diaphragm from picking up to much wind or air from plosives, i.e. the blast of air from sounds like ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘k’ and ‘b’ words. The AT2020USB-XP is built to capture great sounding audio no matter the situation, each of these little additions to either build, design or additional accessory playing its part to keep quality high.

All in all, the AT2020USB-XP is a great solution for a creator of any level. Those delving into their first microphone will always find a use for this, either as interviewer, music producer (and eventual interviewee after your first Grammy nomination), while it’s also great for musicians wanting to easily demo at home or while on the road. Recording typically takes a few pieces of kit that need to work together to capture sound, while also occupying more space in your baggage than you may have to spare – but the AT2020USB-XP is a microphone and audio interface in one. It’s robust, includes everything you need to start recording, while also having measures and technology in place to ensure every recording you make with the AT2020USB-XP is a good one. Even if they’re throwaway ideas, or recordings of magic as you stumble over placeholder lyrics – they’ll always sound great.

You can redeem a free accessory with any 20 Series microphone when you buy from any authorised Australian dealer, head to Audio-Technica for more information.