Since its introduction in 2006, the Audio-Technica AT2020 has resided right at the pointy end of this sector. With its sleek design, incredibly tantalising price-tag and studio-ready sound, the AT2020 has long been the go-to option for entry-level home recordist and budding content creators alike, and as such, has received a mighty second wind with buyers over the past six COVID-ridden months.
To celebrate the longstanding success of the AT2020, Audio-Technica have released a brand new limited edition variant with the AT2020V Vision Edition, decked out in a shiny silver chassis and including a brand new shock mount to make for the ultimate addition to any home studio or broadcast setup.
Straight out of the box, it’s clear that Audio-Technica are making it known that the limited edition AT2020V is nothing short of a victory lap for the triumphs of their ultra-affordable microphone. Tucked into a snug box and boasting a nifty leather pouch for storage and transportation, the AT2020V is both sleek and compact, and the painted silver finish sure is a sight for sore eyes. It’s all too common for gear manufacturers to simply opt for a drab black or grey-wrapped chassis for the bulk of their products, and the prospect of something as shiny and tactile as the AT2020V is worthy of all possible applause.
To protect the precious innards, the AT2020V’s cardioid polar capsule is bolstered by two layers of fine mesh, in turn helping to prevent glaringly obvious pops or sibilance – although we’d recommend using it with a pop filter if you’re looking to record studio-ready vocal tracks. Similarly, the surprising heft of the AT2020V should immediately provide any anxious buyer with peace of mind: despite being grouped into the beginner price bracket, there’s nothing amateur about the build quality of the AT2020V, and this becomes all the more apparent when it’s plugged into an interface with phantom power and cranked into action.
Considering its cost price, the sound quality of the AT2020V is simply phenomenal. Despite the smaller diaphragm of the AT2020V’s capsule, the microphone delivers a full sound with a surprising (but not overwhelming) amount of bass, while the warmth of the lower midrange lends itself perfectly for those looking to lay down instantly impressive vocal tracks without fussing too much over EQs.
Similarly, Audio-Technica’s champion microphone does a mighty job when placed up to a dreadnaught acoustic, and requires minimal tweaking in order to achieve a workable tone for crisp-sounding demo tracks. The microphone’s high maximum SPL of 144dB also makes it extremely versatile when used with a range of vocal styles, particularly those looking to get nice and loud when tracking in their bedroom studio.
Another drawcard for the AT2020V is its focused sound, with the cardioid polar pattern of the microphone minimising unwanted sonic artefacts from the sides and behind of the unit to improve the isolation of your instrument or voice. It’s all too common for entry-level microphones to possess too much presence or colour, creating drastically different performances when used with varying singers or sound sources, and as such, I was pleasantly surprised to find the AT2020V stand up on its own when put to the test on a range of voices and instruments. As an aside, the AT2020V makes for a sublime microphone for spoken word vocal performances, and the subtle sweet spot between 5kHz and 15kHz makes for a delightful ASMR microphone.
Perhaps most appealing about Audio-Technica’s limited AT2020 Vision Edition is the inclusion of a new shock mount, a thoughtful inclusion that makes the experience of recording with the microphone all the more satisfying. It fits nice and snug around the AT2020V, and helps to eradicate those pesky floor or handling vibrations you often pick up when recording to help create ultra-clean tracks. Another common trope of these beginner microphones is for the accompanying shock mount to be a totally flimsy and superfluous accessory, which makes the rugged build and performance of this particular Audio-Technica shock mount all the more impressive.
Reflecting the microphone’s dominance in the amateur recording and content creation sector, the AT2020V is available in both XLR and USB variants, which shows just how far the market has come in recent years. Long gone are the days of harsh-sounding, noisy USB microphones and crummy XLR condensers, and with the AT2020V, Audio-Technica prove once again that they’ve got their finger on the pulse of what customers are seeking in an entry-level microphone.
The new sliver finish works a treat and helps add a decidedly professional aesthetic to the AT2020V – particularly when paired with the shock mount – and the crystalline audio quality across varying sound sources really just speaks for itself. For this price bracket, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that’s going to top the Audio Technica AT2020V: two big thumbs up.