Even after all these years, it still takes time and effort to find a proper vocal microphone, even if you’re making your own home studio.
Today’s demands for home-based vocalists or content creators is at a high level, so we’ll look into two different condenser microphones for this purpose – Audio Technica AT2020 and Blue Yeti.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti comparison:
- Main Specifications
- Features and Functionalities
- Recording Sound Quality
- Build Quality
- Ease of Use
- Price & Value for Money
- Pros & Cons for each mic & who they’re best for
Ready? Let’s get started…
Main Specifications: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
The main thing to know about every microphone is the frequency response or the frequency range that it’s covering, as well as how exactly it covers every part of the audible range. Firstly, both of these microphones cover the entire audible spectrum, anything from 20 Hz and up to 20 kHz. And that’s exactly the same range that you get with the Blue Yeti mic.
On the other hand, the distribution of frequencies is different. According to the official data and practical experiences, they do cover the spectrum a bit differently. For instance, Audio Technica’s AT2020 has a significant bump in the area between 5 and 15 kHz, adding a bit more presence there. Blue Yeti, on the other hand, is a bit “flatter” in this area and it also has slightly fewer bottom ends.
Blue Yeti also has other polar patterns to choose from, which gives it more options in this particular sense. It comes down to personal preferences, but Blue Yeti will give you more options here.
The sound pressure level, or maximum SPL, is all about a microphone’s ability to handle the pressure before unwanted distortion occurs. The higher the level, expressed in decibels, the more room you have for this.
Audio Technica AT2020 has a significant advantage here and comes with a 144 dB max SLP. Meanwhile, the Blue Yeti measures at 120 dB for this particular parameter. This gives AT2020 much more room for louder applications, but we’ll get to that a bit later.
The signal-to-noise ratio, also known as SNL, is the ratio between desired and undesired parts of the signal that goes out of the microphone. It can be represented as a ratio (like 1:1 for example) or it can also be expressed in decibels.
Either way, the larger the number, the lower is the amount of unwanted signal in the mix. In this particular sense, the Blue Yeti mic prevails with 100 dB of SNL. Meanwhile, the Audio Technica AT2020 comes 26 dB shorter of this level, measuring at 74 dB.
The polar pattern refers to the way your microphone is picking up all of the sound and noises going on around it. Microphones usually come with one polar pattern, but there are some with two or more switchable options. And that’s exactly what we have with the Blue Yeti microphone.
Aside from the standard cardioid pickup pattern, the Blue Yeti mic also has bidirectional, omnidirectional, and even stereo polar patterns. Each of these polar patterns also brings a different kind of frequency distribution over the audible spectrum. But more importantly, it lets you record or stream different types of sources depending on the pattern.
This gives Blue Yeti a significant advantage in its use, but that’s a topic of its own and we’ll get to that. While it’s popular as a podcast microphone, it also serves its purpose for singing, instruments, sometimes even loud instrument amplifiers, and even multiple vocals at once.
In this aspect, Blue Yeti has a significant advantage against Audio Technica AT2020. It’s not that AT2020 is bad or anything, but it’s far less versatile in this sense, so its use is limited compared to the Blue Yeti.
Main specifications winner: Blue Yeti
Connectivity: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Connectivity: Audio Technica AT2020
Looking into Audio Technica’s AT2020, things are pretty much the standard deal as you’d expect from a regular studio microphone. Sure, this is a condenser mic, it requires phantom power (the +48 volts feature) on your mixer or an audio interface. But other than that, the microphone features the conventional XLR connection, just like you’d find on any other condenser or dynamic microphone intended for studio work. It’s the same old formation that you’d expect to see on any microphone.
Connectivity: Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti mic, on the other hand, is not your conventional mic, both in terms of connectivity and other features. But while we’re at the issue of connectivity, the main connector is USB Micro-B. Although a digital connection, it’s based on the “plug and play” principles and works with any standard Windows or macOS operating system. It also provides power to the microphone, which essentially has an audio interface in it.
Additionally, the Blue Yeti microphone also has an additional 1/8-inch jack that serves as a headphone output. It makes it useful for any kind of monitoring, but it can also be the main output for any other purposes.
Connectivity: Bottom Line
Technically, Blue Yeti here has more connectivity options compared to the Audio Technica AT2020 mic. Nonetheless, it’s really hard to say who’s the “winner” here as both of these microphones come with their connectivity types and features.
AT2020 is a classic XLR mic, while the Blue Yeti is an “all-in-one” kind of thing that pairs with a computer through a USB connection. This is why it was really hard to say which one’s actually better in this so we called it a tie.
There’s also a USB version of the AT2020 mic, the AT2020USB+, which has some additional features and works as an audio interface, just like Blue Yeti. But we’re looking into the basic version here, not the USB one, so we have to call this one a tie.
Connectivity winner: Tie
Features and Functionalities: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Features and Functionalities: Audio Technica AT2020
Audio Technica has built its reputation for high-quality microphones. AT2020 is a great mic as well. Not as their high-end stuff, but still pretty awesome within its price range.
But while we’re at it, AT2020 is like a standard studio microphone, only more focused on vocals. As far as features go, there’s nothing that exciting about it. It’s a microphone designed to sound great when plugged into a mixing board or an audio interface, so that’s about it. No volume knobs, no switches, just a simple condenser microphone serving its purpose.
Features and Functionalities: Blue Yeti
With a microphone like Blue Yeti, we have a completely different setting. Firstly, this is more than just a microphone that’s connected to your computer through a simple USB cable. It is, in fact, an audio interface and a mic in one device. It comes with a basic audio resolution of 16-bit depth and 48 kHz bitrate.
As we mentioned, the mic also comes with its own headphone output. This is a 1/8-inch jack that can also be used for additional speakers. But that’s not all. There’s even a volume control, mute switch, gain control, as well as a toggle switch for four different pickup patterns.
Features and Functionalities: Bottom Line
Looking at these two microphones, it’s pretty obvious that Blue Yeti has a significant advantage when it comes to features and functionalities. It carries an audio interface, along with input gain and output volume controls, as well as four different polar patterns. In this particular aspect, it blows AT2020 out of the water.
Features and functionalities winner: Blue Yeti
Recording Sound Quality: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Recording Sound Quality: Audio Technica AT2020
Now, here’s where things get a bit tricky.
With these two different kinds of microphones, some things get pretty difficult to determine. This is mostly due to the fact that both of them are designed for different purposes and it’s sometimes hard to compare the same aspects.
For instance, Audio Technica’s AT2020 is more focused on conventional uses, in terms of vocals and acoustic instruments. Additionally, its higher maximum SPL rate allows easier recording of instrument amplifiers or louder sources in general.
But the main trait of a microphone like AT2020 is that it brings more presence with the higher mids and high-ends. This makes the mic extremely useful for vocals, speech, as well as some acoustic instruments, like acoustic guitars.
Recording Sound Quality: Blue Yeti
When it comes to the recording quality, there’s one problem with the Blue Yeti that you must know about. This is a digital device and its recording quality is always set to 16 bits and 48 kHz.
And, to be fair, 16 bits and 48 kHz is not exactly a pristine resolution. Sure, it makes the whole process of recording vocals at home or doing various content creator stuff much easier. But you can’t expect to record vocals and instruments at a semi-pro or pro level.
Sure, it offers versatility and it has some great choices for different uses. You can definitely use it for anything that you want, even acoustic instruments and electric instrument amplifiers. But there will always be that limitation of 16 bits and 48 kHz.
It’s good enough for home use, podcasts, vlogs, or streaming. But if you’re doing anything more than that, you won’t exactly have the best sound quality with Blue Yeti.
Recording Sound Quality: Bottom Line
With all this said, it’s pretty much obvious that Audio Technica’s AT2020 has a superior sound quality compared to the Blue Yeti. Sure, they’re both well-made condenser mics, but AT2020 has a regular analog output and no limitations to its potential.
It’s up to your other equipment, mainly your audio interface, to help you achieve maximum possible potential with this mic. So AT2020 wins the sound quality category.
Recording Sound Quality Winner: Audio Technica AT2020
Build Quality: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Build Quality: Audio Technica AT2020
To be fair, Audio Technica’s AT2020 is solidly built. In fact, it’s easily comparable to their more expensive stuff. The mic isn’t that heavy, weighing in at around 0.76 lbs (or 345 grams). But nonetheless, it still feels pretty sturdy. In fact, it can withstand even some rougher handling and can even cover some live show actions. In short, these mics are built to last.
Build Quality: Blue Yeti
What you need to know is that the main idea behind a mic like Blue Yeti was to have an all-in-one device that’s simple to use and that comes with additional features, all at a fairly decent price. But this comes with some sacrifices. The build quality isn’t that bad, but it certainly doesn’t hold up to Audio Technica’s AT2020.
After all, it’s designed for home use. It might have plastic switches and an overall less sturdy build quality. But it will serve its purpose.
Additionally, it’s also noticeably heavier compared to AT2020, weighing in at 1.2 pounds. But that’s because it comes with an integrated audio interface and additional features.
Build Quality: Bottom Line
It’s no secret that AT2020 has a much better build quality. That doesn’t mean that Blue Yeti is bad, especially not within its price range. However, if you’re aiming for a microphone that can withstand more, then Audio Technica’s AT2020 would be a better choice between the two.
Build Quality Winner: Audio Technica AT2020
Practical Use: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Practical Use: Audio Technica AT2020
Despite being somewhat limited compared to Blue Yeti, AT2020 has a wide variety of use. Although it is a vocal mic, it can also come in handy for acoustic and electric instruments. Also, bearing the conventional XLR connection, it can go in any mixer or a supported audio interface. Essentially, it works for any setting where you’d need to pronounce those sparkling high-ends and higher mids.
Practical Use: Blue Yeti
Blue Yeti, on the other hand, is designed as a simple solution for individual content creators and podcast hosts. It can also serve its purpose for singing and voice-overs, where it shows good results. Although it has its limitations, Blue Yeti can be used for acoustic and electric instruments if you’re making demo recordings. Nonetheless, its main focus is still on content creators.
Practical Use: Bottom Line
Honestly, it’s kind of hard to compare these two mics. AT2020 is based on classic studio microphones but can serve its purpose for some content creators and podcast hosts. On the other hand, Blue Yeti is made specifically for content creators, usually those who do all the work on their own, without additional guests. With all this said, it’s hard to say which one is “better” as they both have their advantages in practice.
Practical Use Winner: Tie
Ease of Use: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Ease of Use: Audio Technica AT2020
AT2020 is a straightforward condenser microphone with no bells and whistles. You just need an audio interface or a PA system, and you’re ready to go. It’s as simple as it gets. However, if you’re an absolute beginner, you’ll need some basic knowledge of condenser mics and how they’re supposed to be used in different settings. But if you’re getting AT2020, we’ll assume that you’re already familiar with that.
Ease of Use: Blue Yeti
Blue Yeti, on the other hand, is simple to use for other reasons. If you’re a beginner, a home-recording enthusiast, or a streamer, this one is the simplest solution out there. It has decent recording quality and you just need to connect it to your computer.
Ease of Use: Bottom Line
Once again, it gets pretty hard to say which one is better here. Both of them are simple in their own way. However, we can’t help but give this one to Blue Yeti. After all, it has a “plug-and-play” operation, it has its integrated audio interface, and pretty much anyone with basic knowledge can use it. It’s also the simplest solution for those who’re not as experienced.
Ease Of Use Winner: Blue Yeti
Price & Value for Money: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Price & Value for Money: Audio Technica AT2020
Considering the fact that AT2020 is a studio condenser mic, and that it’s made by Audio Technica, it’s a pretty cheap one. Many musicians who have used it claim that it has been one of the best purchases they’ve ever made. You can’t really ask for more within this price level.
Price & Value for Money: Blue Yeti
At this point, Blue Yeti has become a standard among solo content creators and streamers. If you’re following a particular YouTuber or a Twitch streamer, there’s a high chance that they’re rocking a Blue Yeti. It’s slightly more expensive compared to AT2020. But considering the fact that it’s also an audio interface, this is more than a great deal.
Price & Value for Money: Bottom Line
Like we’ve mentioned in some of the previous discussion points, it’s difficult to go out there and say which one is better. In fact, they’re both pretty great and are some of the best options in this price category. You can’t go wrong with either of these, but you’ll still need to know what you’re aiming for.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Tie
Pros & Cons: Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti
Audio Technica AT2020 Pros & Cons
- Pretty great deal for the price
- Good recording sound quality
- It’s sturdy and can handle some rougher handling
- Despite its simplicity, it has wide variety of use
- It could use some additional features
Blue Yeti Pros & Cons
- Very versatile
- Very simple to use, plug-and-play operation
- Comes with an integrated audio interface
- An ideal option for content creators, streamers, and podcast hosts
- Its integrated audio interface is somewhat limiting in terms of sound quality
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Audio Technica AT2020 vs Blue Yeti comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Main Specifications – Blue Yeti
- Connectivity – Tie
- Features and Functionalities – Blue Yeti
- Recording Sound Quality – Audio Technica AT2020
- Build Quality – Audio Technica AT2020
- Ease of Use – Blue Yeti
- Price & Value for Money – Audio Technica AT2020
Overall: Audio Technica AT2020
Although these are both condenser microphones, it’s kind of hard to compare them to the full extent. Each has its main purpose, but they can also both come in handy for different settings.
But it all comes down to what you’re aiming for.
- If you’re a musician or a podcast host, AT2020 is the way to go.
- If you’re streaming, but occasionally also feel like recording some demos of your music at home, Blue Yeti will probably serve you better.
You’re also free to do as you wish and use these mics the way you want to. But while you can’t really go wrong with either of these options, AT2020’s sound quality is what puts it ahead of Blue Yeti.