Audio-Technica is a bit of a beast in the pro-audio world, offering a tonne of really great mic models at pretty affordable prices.
Two of those models that sit at the entry-level end of their catalog are the AT2020 and AT2035.
The two mics look pretty similar (more or less identical, in fact), so you’d be forgiven for wondering what the heck the difference even is.
Today, we’re going to 9 different points of comparison, so you can decide which of these two excellent Audio-Technica microphones is the right choice for you.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035 comparison:
- Frequency Response
- Polar Pattern
- Build Quality
- Pads and Switches
- Noise and SPL Handling
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
30-Second Summary: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
So when it comes down to Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
- Go for Audio Technica AT2020 if your budget is tight, you already have a shock mount, and you aren’t worried about low-cut filters or pad switches.
- Go for Audio-Technica AT2035 if you need a shock mount to help acoustically isolate the mic, better SPL handling, lower self-noise, and a pad switch and high-pass filter.
1. Sound: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Sound: Audio Technica AT2020
The Audio-Technica is a fairly neutral-sounding mic, with a flat response that works really nicely on instruments like acoustic guitar or vocals.
It’s not particularly heavy in the low end, so I’d suggest a different mic if you’re needing to record bass guitar or kick drums, but it’s a good choice for vocals where you want to tame some of the low end.
Sound: Audio-Technica AT2035
The AT2035 is fairly similar in sound, which makes sense considering both mics are part of the AT2000 series.
This mic has a stronger, more robust bass response than the AT2020 though, which lends itself to applications like recording piano or double bass.
The low-cut filter (more on this soon) means the AT2035 can still be used in situations when you don’t want a whole lot of low end.
You’ll also notice, if you listen to the two mics side by side, the AT2035 is a bit crispier and has more going on in the upper mids.
This adds some nice sparkle to acoustic guitars, attack to toms or snare drums, and brings vocal performances forward in the mix.
Sound: Bottom Line
Both of these mics sound very professional and not at all harsh or mid-heavy like a lot of budget-friendly condensers do.
And although the sound profile is really a matter of preference, and both mics have pros and cons in different applications, I’d give the AT2035 the edge here for it’s enhanced mid-range and deeper bass response.
Sound Winner: Audio Technica AT2035
2. Frequency Response: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Frequency Response: Audio Technica AT2020
The frequency response of the Audio-Technica AT2020 is as follows:
- Deep cut in the low-end which is most pronounced at 80Hz (down to -5dB)
- Flat throughout the lower mids
- A few subtle peaks through 4-14kHz
- Dropping off steeply from 14kHz to around -4dB at 20kHz
Frequency Response: Audio-Technica AT2035
As discussed in the previous section, the AT2035 has a much deeper bass response, filtering off slowly from 150Hz but only by 1-2dB.
Like the AT2020, this microphone is flat throughout the midrange, but it has more pronounced peaks in the upper mids with a presence boost around 6kHz and a bright, airy lift between 10 and 15kHz.
Frequency Response: Bottom Line
I’m going to call this a tie and here’s why. For some applications you might require a brighter, more present mic like the AT2020. For others, you’ll need something a little more subdued like the AT2015.
For most everyday situations, either mic will get the job done.
Frequency Response Winner: Tie
3. Polar Pattern: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Polar Pattern: Audio Technica AT2020
The AT2020 is a condenser mic with a tight cardioid polar pattern.
If you’re new to the world of microphones, a polar pattern describes a mic’s sensitivity with regard to direction.
A cardioid mic is sensitive to sound from the front, a little from the sides, and not at all from the rear.
Polar Pattern: Audio-Technica AT2035
The Audio-Technica AT2035 is also a cardioid condenser mic
This makes it suitable for situations where you want to record what you’re pointing the mic out (like vocals or guitars) but not so much the ambiance in the room.
Polar Pattern: Bottom Line
There are no winners here, as both microphones offer the same polar pattern: a standard cardioid shape.
Polar Pattern Winner: Tie
4. Build Quality: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Build Quality: Audio Technica AT2020
Something you’ll notice about the Audio Technica AT2020 when you unpack it from it’s box is that it is incredibly well-made.
A lot of budget-friendly consumers feel cheap, poorly made, and not very durable at all. AT2020 is the exact opposite of those.
It has a robust all-metal body with a nice matte, grippy feel to it. It’s also relatively weighty, which makes it feel like a solid piece of equipment,
Build Quality: Audio-Technica AT2035
The AT2035 has a very similar body (it might even be the same one with different electronics inside).
It too has an all-metal body that neatly encapsulates the black metal grille and protects the mic capsule with ease.
Build Quality: Bottom Line
While I certainly wouldn’t risk taking either mic on tour without a solid case (they are condenser microphones, after all), both the AT2020 and the AT2035 feel like really solid units that will go the distance.
A two-year warranty backs this up, though I can’t imagine the physical build of these mics wouldn’t keep them safe for years.
This one’s a tie.
Build Quality Winner: Tie
5. Pads and Switches: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Pads and Switches: Audio Technica AT2020
The Audio Technica AT2020 is a pretty no-frills microphone if we’re honest.
No pads, no buttons, no switches. Just plug it into your interface and get going.
Pads and Switches: Audio-Technica AT2035
The Audio-Technica AT2035, on the other hand, is a little more complex.
It features an 80Hz high-pass filter, which you can engage to fight proximity effect when recording vocals up close or to remove the boominess from an acoustic guitar.
You also have access to a -10dB pad for us while recording loud sound sources.
Pads and Switches: Bottom Line
It’s probably pretty obvious, but the Audio-Technica AT2035 wins this round on account of it’s included low-cut filter and pad switch.
Pads and Switches Winner: Audio Technica AT2035
6. Accessories: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Accessories: Audio Technica AT2020
In keeping with the bare-bones style of the mic itself, the Audio Technica AT2020 doesn’t come with a whole lot in the way of accessories.
You get a nice carrying bag (which to be honest is more of a dust cover and scratch protector, as it’s not going to protect the mic from heavy bumps and knocks), and a handy mic stand adaptor which is hinged, allowing you to accurately position the mic when recording.
Accessories: Audio-Technica AT2035
The Audio-Technica AT2035 doesn’t include a whole lot more, but what it does ship with is a shock mount.
This helps to isolate the microphone from acoustic interference and vibrations, resulting in a quieter and smoother recording experience.
Accessories: Bottom Line
Personally speaking, I would rarely want to record with a condenser mic without using a shock mount.
Condensers are super sensitive to small vibrations and knocks, so if you don’t isolate the mic capsule acoustically, then you’re at risk of picking up small noises in the lower register.
So, though it’s the only additional accessory that the Audio-Technica AT2035 includes, it’s still a really valuable one, so it’s definitely the winner here.
Accessories Winner: Audio Technica AT2035
7. Noise and SPL Handling: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Noise and SPL Handling: Audio Technica AT2020
The AT2020 has a signal-to-noise ratio of 74dB, which is much of a muchness.
Considering that high-end microphones like the AKG C414 boast signal-to-noise ratios of 88dB, this isn’t really anything to write home about.
Still, it’s better than super cheap mics like the Behringer C1.
It has a dynamic range of 124dB, which is about as loud as a police siren and has a sensitivity of -37dB.
Noise and SPL Handling: Audio-Technica AT2035
On the whole, the AT2035 offers a better set of specs.
To start with, it has a signal-to-noise ratio of 82dB, which means the AT2020 is nearly twice as noisy.
It can handle sound levels more than twice as high, with a dynamic range of 136dB, and has a sensitivity of -33dB which means it can pick up even more subtle noises.
Noise and SPL Handling: Bottom Line
When you dive into these specs, you can really see why the AT2035 is a much more expensive mic. It wins this round, but is it worth the money?
We’ll find out below…
Noise and SPL Handling Winner: Audio Technica AT2035
8. Price & Value For Money: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Price & Value For Money: Audio Technica AT2020
The Audio Technica AT2020 is a pretty damn affordable microphone, all things considered.
It slips in just under $100, which is definitely in the lower mid-range of mics.
There are cheaper condenser microphones, for sure (the Behringer C1 is about $50) but there are also more expensive units in that same range (the Rode NT1A is about twice the price).
All things considered, this mic represents decent value for money.
Price & Value For Money: Audio-Technica AT2035
You’ll pay an extra $50 for the Audio-Technica AT2035, as it comes in at $150.
From our perspective, though the AT2035 costs more, it represents better value for money.
That additional $50 buys you an 80Hz low-cut filter, a -10dB pad, a shock mount, and a mic that is capable of handling louder sound sources with lower self-noise.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
The AT2035 is the winner here, offering really great value for money considering it’s only $150.
The only reason I could see to go with the AT2020 is if you need to grab two for stereo setup or for a two-person podcast., and your budget is limited.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Audio Technica AT2035
9. Pros & Cons: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035
Audio Technica AT2020 Pros & Cons
- Tight cardioid polar pattern
- Smooth, natural tone
- No pad or high-pass filter
- No shock mount
- A little noisier
Audio-Technica AT2035 Pros & Cons
- Forward sound but not overly aggressive
- -10dB pad an 80Hz high-pass filter
- Superior SPL handling and lower self-noise
- Comes with a shock mount
- Would have been nice to include a regular mic stand mount as well, just to have the option
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Audio Technica AT2020 vs Audio-Technica AT2035 comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Sound – Audio Technica AT2035
- Frequency Response – Tie
- Polar Pattern – Tie
- Build Quality – Tie
- Pads and Switches – Audio Technica AT2035
- Accessories – Audio Technica AT2035
- Noise and SPL Handling – Audio Technica AT2035
- Price & Value For Money – Audio Technica AT2035
Overall: Audio-Technica AT2035
Both the Audio-Technica AT2020 and the AT2035 really capable, professional-sounding cardioid condenser mics.
However, there can only be one winner, and in this case, it is the Audio-Technica AT2035.
Just to recap, Audio-Technica AT2035 is better than AT2020 because it offers:
- Better SPL handling
- Lower self-noise
- A shock mount
- -10dB pad
- 80Hz low-cut filter
- A wider dynamic range
- Stronger bass response
- A more present sound palette
Check out how they sound here:
Audio Technica AT2020
Products Comparison Table:
Spec / Feature
Audio Technica AT2020
Audio Technica AT2035
Fixed-charge back plate, permanently polarized condenser
Fixed-charge back plate, permanently polarized condenser
20Hz – 20kHz
20Hz – 20kHz
144 dB SPL
158 db SPL
Signal to noise ratio:
6.38″ (162.0 mm) long,
2.05″ (52.0 mm) maximum body
2.05” x 6.69″