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May 18, 2023
251 x 247 x 95 mm
The AT2020USB-XP is a new addition to Audio-Technica’s AT2020 microphone series. It is a USB-C microphone that is meant to be used for recordings and other computer-related audio tasks. However, since it’s based on a microphone designed for studio work, is it really the right choice for people just wanting a microphone for work meetings?
Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP is, first and foremost, a studio microphone and is best suited for musical performances or recording podcasts. However, it’s also useful as a microphone for voice and video calls. If you’re a Twitch streamer, you might want to consider the rest of your space, as the microphone’s sensitive design is liable to pick up the sounds of button presses during games.
What’s it like to use the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP?
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP is well constructed and sturdy, made primarily out of metal. It is a condenser microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern, very similar to the other AT2020 series microphones. It comes with two different accessories that make it easy to set up and use: a desktop stand that screws into the bottom and keeps it upright on a flat surface; and a pop filter that snaps into place in front of the microphone. You can plug your headphones into the back of the microphone in order to have it handle both input and output duties, rather than relying on an audio interface. It’s also possible to mount it on any standard microphone stand.
How do you control the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP?
The Audio Technica AT2020USB-XP has three onboard controls that allow you to adjust the sound. Directly on the front is a touch surface (not a button) that allows you to mute the microphone, which changes the LED from red or blue to indicate whether it’s muted or not. On the bottom of the microphone are two buttons to adjust the automatic gain control and the noise reduction. There are also two dials on the front that allow you to adjust volume and sidetone, which only apply if you have your headphones plugged into it. The AT2020USB-XP lacks some features found on other microphones, such as a high-pass filter, but this can be achieved with some digital EQ to make up for it. Given the 24 Bit and 192 kHz resolution available, editing after the fact is not a big issue.
How does the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP connect?
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP connects using a standard USB-C cable. A USB-C to USB-A cord is included in the box, but you can easily substitute it for a USB-C to USB-C should you need to. There is no option to connect it via XLR, so if that’s the sort of microphone you’re looking for, you’re probably better off checking out our XLR microphone best list.
No, the AT2020USB-XP does not require an external power source, just a single USB-C cable, of which one is included in the box.
How does the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP sound?
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP has a cardioid polar pickup pattern, making it ideal for capturing sound from in front of it, as opposed to an omnidirectional microphone. With the addition of an automatic gain control and a noise reduction feature, the AT2020USB-XP has really surpassed its predecessors. Compared to prior AT2020 series microphones, where we found them the most useful inside an acoustically treated recording space, the AT2020USB-XP is effective when used in a casual recording environment at home.
The new noise reduction isn’t perfect, and can sound a bit unnatural when on the higher settings, but it does an effective job of making this a much more versatile microphone. The automatic gain reduction also solves clipping issues that haunted the previous iteration of USB AT2020 microphone. You can listen below and judge for yourself how it sounds, as well as compare it to our previous AT2020USB-X review.
Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP microphone demo:
Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP microphone demo with noise reduction:
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP?
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP is a notable step up from the previous model. While it is more expensive than its predecessor, the improvements do a lot to justify that price change. The design and construction has been consistently solid across the AT2020 series of microphones, but now we finally have robust sound quality to match. This microphone is much more versatile, and can be used in a wider range of environments, and for more purposes. If you’re looking for a middle of the range microphone to start podcasting or streaming, this may be a great option for you, especially if your acoustic environment is sub optimal.
What should you get instead of the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP?
While it is a good microphone, the AT2020USB-XP isn’t applicable to every situation you might want to use it for. If you’re wanting something for a louder environment or for streaming while playing with something like a mechanical keyboard, then a gaming headset will work better. If you want a microphone primarily for podcasting, then maybe you might want to consider competitors in the same product category, either the cheaper HyperX DuoCast or the more expensive Shure MV7. If you’re wanting to do professional studio work with instruments then you might want an XLR microphone instead of a USB one, in which case you might want to consider the cheaper original AT2020, the premium workhorse Shure SM7B, or every studio engineer’s best friend: the Shure SM57.
Frequently asked questions
The AT2020USB-XP is the newest version of the AT2020 family of microphones, an update to last year’s AT2020USB-X. The biggest change is the addition of an automatic gain control and noise reduction button, which really improves the sound in any environment that isn’t a recording studio.